LA Metro’s Touchless TAP App

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) on Sept. 4 extended functionality of its regional Transit Access Pass (TAP) automatic fare collection (AFC) card to the iPhone and Apple Watch, describing it as “a new and safer way to pay transit fare that allows Metro and 25 TAP transit agencies in L.A. County to offer easy, contactless bus and rail fare payment to riders.”

Metro’s TAP program has been working with Apple and Cubic Transportation Systems, the agency’s fare payment solutions supplier, to deploy the technology. With the TAP card mobile app on the iPhone and Apple Watch, riders hold their device near the TAP reader upon boarding a bus or train, and fare is validated immediately. There’s no need to use Face ID, Touch ID or wake the device. Riders can also quickly add Stored Value directly from Apple Wallet or in the TAP mobile app with Apple Pay and riders no longer have to use or touch a TAP vending machine or purchase a TAP card from a vendor.

Metro notes that adding a TAP card to an iPhone or Apple Watch is easy. Either add the card directly through Apple Wallet and load Stored Value, or download the TAP mobile app for easy account management, regional trip planning and access to all passes, including Metro Bike Share. The TAP app also supports Reduced Fare, Low Income Fare is Easy (LIFE) and cash paying customers. And, riders can transfer an existing physical TAP card to their iPhone or Apple Watch via the TAP app.

TAP card on iPhone and Apple Watch and the new TAP app work on iPhone 8 and later and Apple Watch Series 3 and later. An Android TAP app is in the works for implementation later this year.

“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, this new feature offers a great option for essential workers, honors social distancing with no bus operator interaction needed by the rider and works on all TAP participating agencies, whether riders board at the front or at rear doors,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington.

“With TAP cards now available on iPhone and Apple Watch, those in Los Angeles using public transportation have a safe, secure and extremely convenient way to pay for their bus or train fare,” said Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s Vice President of Apple Pay. “By simply placing their Apple device near the TAP [reader], Metro riders can quickly board and avoid touching vending machines—all while keeping their transaction information private.”

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