Tap Card Changes Would Hurt Student and Low-Income Bus Riders
The MTA's transition to the TAP (Transit Access Pass) Card payment and validation system in January of 2009 has put up more barriers to public transit use and added greater financial pressure on low-income families. As the MTA moves to eliminate paper day passes in order to reduce paper waste, the TAP technology will shift the cost of this transition to bus riders. The new TAP Card will impose upon bus riders a $2 fee for purchase. The $2 tax/fare increase will be an added cost to the modest incomes of our bus riders, and will be especially burdensome to riders who use the buses to search for employment. Furthermore, the TAP Card fee and the inconvenience of the limited venues from which bus riders can purchase TAP Cards counter efforts to reduce greenhouse gas and air toxin emissions from cars by creating a disincentive for discretionary riders to use public transit.
More importantly, the TAP Card trumps the Bus Riders Union's Student Bus Pass Campaign victory to eliminate the strenuous paper application process that low-income families must undergo in order to obtain a student discounted bus fare. Student discounted bus pass stickers have been accessible at LAUSD schools, the Metro Customer Centers, and more than 800 other Metro venues as a result of the Student Bus Pass Campaign victory. The transition into the new TAP technology proposes to bring back the application process and limits access to student access cards to four Metro Customer Centers. This consequently limits the accessibility of the student passes and re-imposes the financial barriers to bus use that we have worked hard to combat. The TAP Card transition is chipping away at the major civil rights victory for students and low-income black and brown people in undermining mass transit accessibility and efficiency by:
- relying on electronic readers to validate TAP Cards and therefore subjecting bus riders to pay again, citation, and being kicked off the buses when electronic machines show inaccurate readings.
- requiring mass transit users to submit identification as proof of age that will be permanently kept on file
- reinforcing the tedious paper application process for students to acquire Reduced Fare Passes.
- limiting the convenience of being able to purchase day passes on the spot on the buses
We submitted a letter to the MTA board on April 9, 2009 stating our concerns about the TAP Card transition. We are expecting a response from the TAP department soon so stay tuned for updates.
About Duyen Tran
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