TAP - Transit Access Pass
LocationLos Angeles County, California
Launched2007 (soft launch)
2008 (monthly passes)
2009 (day passes)
2011 (cash purse)
OperatorCubic Transportation Systems
ManagerLos Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The Transit Access Pass (TAP) is a contactless smart card used for automated fare collection on most public transport services within Los Angeles County, California. It is administered by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), and the card and fare collection systems are manufactured by Cubic Transportation Systems. Metro staff manage the web site and provide customer support functions.[1]


The TAP is a blue, or orange for reduced fare, credit-card-sized contactless stored value smart card which can hold a transit Pass or cash balance. The TAP card must be tapped on electronic readers to validate it when entering and transferring within the system. TAP readers are integrated in bus fare boxes, bus validators and standalone readers are located just outside the paid area of Metro Rail stations. Because Metro Rail has a mix of barrier free and faregated areas, it operates on a proof-of-payment system: as such, Metro's fare inspectors randomly check using a wireless handheld unit to make sure TAP users have validated their card. The cards may be "recharged" in person from ticket vending machines in Metro Rail stations, TAP Vendors, at Metro Customer Service Centers or online. The card is designed to reduce the number of transactions at Customer Service Centers. The card costs $2 and is only available with a fare media product (such as a day pass or stored value). Cards can also be purchased on Metro buses (since 15 September 2014) for $2 plus stored value (which works like a debit card). TAP cards expire approximately 3–10 years from purchase.[2]

Currently most operators sell passes on the TAP web site, and Metro sells monthly, weekly, and day passes at rail ticket vending machines. Stored value (cash purse) can be added onto the TAP card at rail ticket vending machines, retail locations, and online. Non-Metro agencies may sell transfers on TAP cards, which can be read by Metro TAP readers. For non-Metro operators, TAP cards are sold at their administrative offices, TAP website, or customer service centers.[3]

There are some agencies in Southern California which do not (yet) accept the TAP card. Transit agencies have been allowed to transition onto TAP at their own pace, and it is not a requirement for receiving Metro funding or participation in interagency transfer agreements.


Prior to introduction of the TAP card, a magnetic stripe card called the Metrocard (not to be confused with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority's card) was introduced in 1993 on Culver CityBus, with later expansion to Foothill Transit, Montebello Bus Lines, Norwalk Transit, and Santa Monica Big Blue Bus. The fare card only offered stored value, and was compatible with GFI Genfare fareboxes used by these systems.[4] The program was dubbed the Universal Fare System, or UFS, for future implementation throughout Los Angeles County.[5] Later innovations expanded the magnetic stripe technology for monthly and day passes.

TAP was initially tested by UCLA students, select businesses (A-TAP and B-TAP program) and Metro staff. In October 2007, TAP had a two-month test program limited to the first 2,000 customers. TAP was rolled out to the general public in February 2008 as a free upgrade for monthly pass customers, and on February 11, 2008, to replace the stored value Metrocards for Culver CityBus riders.[6] Santa Monica Big Blue Bus opted out of the Universal Fare System program entirely and in 2006 converted their existing regional Metrocards to operate only within their system.[7] Other agencies, such as Foothill Transit and Norwalk Transit, transitioned from Metrocard to TAP in 2009.[8]

On March 15, 2009, TAP's scope was expanded to Metro 24-hour passes, which are now only sold on TAP, at Ticket Vending Machines and TAP Vendors [9] (although paper 24-hour passes were still able to be purchased at ticket vending machines until 2012). TAP cards were issued for seniors and the disabled beginning January 2009,[10] and all senior and disabled riders were required to obtain TAP cards by December 2010.[11]

In August 2011, all Metro multi-day passes were converted to TAP cards. The existing monthly and weekly passes were converted into 30 and 7 day passes, respectively, with the period beginning on the first tap after the pass is purchased.[12]

Effective September 2012, all Metro Rail fares are sold on TAP, and paper tickets are no longer sold, with the exception of municipal transfers, which have since also been moved to TAP. All EZ transit passes have been converted to TAP. The fee for obtaining a TAP card is $2.[13]

Between June 19, 2013 and June 18, 2014[14] the fare gates at 40 Metro stations were "latched" so they open only with a valid TAP card. To make the fare gate system possible, other agencies [15] use TAP-compatible fare media in 2018.

Effective July 15, 2018, paper-issued interagency transfers as well as temporary TAP cards used to transfer to Metro Rail have been discontinued. Passengers must use a TAP card with Stored Value to board the first bus or the Metro Rail/Orange/Silver Line, then use the TAP card to transfer to another bus or Metro Rail/Orange/Silver Line to complete the trip. On Metro buses and rail lines, transfers are free for up to two hours.


The default, standard fare TAP card design features a dark blue background with red and yellow circles and the TAP logo, introduced in 2015. The reduced fare design features an orange background and shaded palm tree. Prior to this, the designs featured simple light blue and orange backgrounds with the words "Smart. Simple. Secure" printed at the top.[16]

Since 2012, Metro, LADOT, and other agencies have also released various limited-edition TAP card designs. Past designs have featured CicLAvia, Metro Bike Share, Union Station's 75th anniversary, the Los Angeles Marathon, and the naming of Obama Boulevard. Other designs feature partnerships with schools such as UCLA and USC, sports teams including the Los Angeles Kings and Los Angeles Lakers, along with yearly, commemorative cards for Valentine's Day, LGBT Pride Month, Latino Heritage Month, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day.

Agencies using TAP

A TAP validator at a Metro station
A TAP validator at a Metro station
A TAP reader on a Metro bus
A TAP reader on a Metro bus


TAP is accepted by 26 transit agencies in Southern California as of March 2022:[17]



Metrolink does not use TAP for fare collection and has no plans to do so, but the agency does use TAP-capable paper and digital fare media. The TAP functionality is only enabled on a one-way, round trip, 7 day, weekend and monthly passes issued for trips to or from a Los Angeles County destination, allowing passengers to transfer to connecting services.[18] Passengers boarding buses show their ticket to the driver, passengers entering a rail station with gates scan a QR code on the ticket or mobile app to unlatch the turnstile.[19]

Orange County Transportation Authority

While the Orange County Transportation Authority does not use TAP, the agency will honor TAP cards when passengers board lines that directly serve Los Angeles County (lines 1, 30, 38, 42, 46, 50, 60, 701, and 721) and at bus stops where OCTA buses directly connect with Metro buses.[20]


  1. ^ http://media.metro.net/board/Items/2016/06_june/201606_cac_tap_update.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  2. ^ "TAP card caveat: these puppies expire after 3 years". The Source - Metro Transportation News & Reviews. 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  3. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20110724092227/http://www.taptogo.net/faresanddiscounts.php?hmm=fd. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved July 27, 2011. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Appendix A : Transit Applications of Emerging Fare Developments" (PDF). Onlinepubs.trb.org. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  5. ^ "Universal Fare System" (PDF). Boardarchives.metro.net. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  6. ^ "Culver City :: Culver City Bus :: Metrocard". Archived from the original on 2008-05-19. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  7. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20100115043032/http://metroriderla.com/2007/07/18/big-blue-bus-drops-the-ball-hard/. Archived from the original on January 15, 2010. Retrieved July 27, 2011. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ "LA Metro Home | Getting Started". Metro.net. 2016-01-27. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  10. ^ "Transit Access Pass & Rail Fare Gate Status" (PDF). Metro.net. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  11. ^ "Metro is Converting All Remaining Senior and Disabled Patron Paper Passes and Stamps to TAP Cards Beginning Dec. 26, 2010". Metro.net. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  12. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20120127014729/http://www.metro.net/around/fares/7-and-30-day-passes. Archived from the original on January 27, 2012. Retrieved February 3, 2012. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ "It's time to TAP". Metro.net. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  14. ^ "Latching Schedule". Metro. Archived from the original on 24 November 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  15. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20130119123304/http://bigbluebus.com/Newsroom/News/New_Transfer_Cards_for_Metro_Rail.aspx. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved May 30, 2013. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ "New TAP card design to roll out in October". The Source - Metro Transportation News & Reviews. 16 September 2015.
  17. ^ "TAP Agencies". Retrieved 2022-03-19.
  18. ^ "TAP (Transit Access Pass) | Metrolink". Metrolinktrains.com. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
  19. ^ "Mobile App FAQ". Metrolink. Retrieved 2021-12-27.
  20. ^ "Connections & Transfers". Orange County Transportation Authority. Retrieved 2021-12-27.