Metro has our Dim Sum Ride TAP’d out

I made this short video to talk about how Metro’s TAP card system broke group ticket purchasing. Our bike shop used to use the Gold Line to take a group of bike riders into the San Gabriel Valley (via the South Pasadena station) on an early Sunday morning bike ride to one of many fine dim sum restaurants there. It used to be easy to buy a bunch of tickets for the train: we’d show up with a big group, count heads and then stuff a $20 bill into the machine and buy a bunch of one-way tickets. The whole thing took less than one minute.

Now that the system is TAP-only, we have to buy TAP cards one at a time – which can take a while when you’ve got 15 people with you. If you’re buying all those one way passes with cash, be prepared to deal with a stack of golden coins to juggle as you feed them in buying card after card. The fun is doubled on the return trip when everyone has to cough up their brand new TAP cards and you, one-by-one, re-load them with one-way fares.

Ugh.

There needs to be a quick and easy solution to this! Our taste buds demand easy access to the food of the SGV!

Our recommendations? Add the ability to buy multiple one-way, or round-trip, TAP cards to the ticket machine. We should also have the ability to buy fares in bulk, swiping card after card against the ticket machine. As it is now, it’s slow and frustrating having to insert money, process one card, insert more money, process another card. etc. etc.

Save our SGV dim sum rides!

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5 Comments

  1. Posted April 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I’d love it if you could just use the same TAP card to pay multiple fares in a single trip, but maybe that’s a technical problem that’s just too hard to solve. I have my own TAP card, but a few weeks ago wanted to take a trip with my wife who doesn’t have one. I tried tapping it twice, but was given a confusing error message. I assume they’re trying to keep us from accidentally paying two fares when riding solo, but I can’t be the only person to have tried to use my card to pay for somebody else’s fare.

  2. josef
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    It seems so crazy to me that you can have “fares” in some account with the MTA and your are unable to use them to have a spouse or kid ride with you. I have paid the MTA money and they will not let me use their service because of some computer system complication. Well how about we allow people to simply bypass that whole “pre-pay the MTA” thing and just show up and buy a ticket-like-thing?

    I think TAP is a good idea for high frequency users (I now own about six of the things) but has some serious flaws in its design and roll-out.

    Hopefully this can get resolved before we move on to Get Sum Pupusas for lack of variety of dim sum places to try out.

  3. Eric W
    Posted April 12, 2013 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been thinkgin’ on this: It’s not a bad thing to get people to obtain a TAP card – if they have one they are more likely to use Metro, Culver City’s buses, public transit in general…

    So my thinking runs something similar to this: the ride organizer could be the bank. And at a slight profit for floating the money and getting the cards. Just batch up your TAP card buying task for economy of scale. Buy 20 cards, or however many you think you need, each with $2.50 (two one-way fares). Put advertising stickers for Flying Pigeon on them, maybe even both sides!

    Hand them out at ride sign up for $4 each. At the end of the ride hand back a buck for each card turned in (or $1.50 if you are a even handed type). You might be able to get cards in bulk at one of the many TAP vendors – I see on http://taptogo.net/ that the Shell station @ 26th near Flying Pigeon sells ’em.

    I’d imagine that an increasing number of repeat riders will have there own cards. Though this scheme isn’t perfect I hope it helps make organized ride via Metro smoother.

    Eric W

  4. Posted April 13, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I guess that would handle our issues, and increase our overheads and the complexity of just getting on the darn train with a one-way fare. We’re now in the transit pass business?

    This doesn’t solve the problem for people in large groups or a big family. They still have to line up and buy passes one at a time. Or maybe everyone could pre-pay! Maybe we could all just give Metro our money in advance and they could be in the banking business now too. I like that: a 0 interest loan to the MTA! Hey wait a minute, we do that already! They get 1.5% of every thing we pay sales tax on. How about they just take that money and give us a ticket system that works as well as the last one.

  5. Danny Perez
    Posted April 14, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    thats why i just load it with a 10 until it runs out