Fare accountability, improved ridership data and efficiency were the major themes on June 19, when gate latching began in the Tap universal payment system designed and integrated by Cubic Transportation Systems for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).
Metro officials including board chair Michael D. Antonovich and CEO Art Leahy joined outgoing Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to announce that the gates installed by Cubic will be latched to help ensure customers pay with their Tap cards. The latching of the gates ushers in a new era of partnership between Metro with Metrolink and its municipal operators to create a seamless regional transit network bound by Tap technology throughout Los Angeles County.
This has been the agency’s vision since the universal fare system was awarded to Cubic in 2002.
The phased rollout of the system began in 2007 when it went into service on Metro rail and buses. It was originally designed to integrate other transit operators into the system. The system now has increased to ten regional partners with the addition of Metrolink, the commuter rail network serving Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Other regional partners include Los Angeles Department of Transportation and municipal bus operators of Culver City, Foothill, Santa Clarita, Montebello, Gardena, Norwalk, Torrance and Antelope Valley.
The addition of a Metrolink Tap-enabled ticket and the existing Tap/Visa card issued by Access Services, demonstrates the ability for third parties to integrate into the Tap system. In addition, Metro has plans to add 15 more agencies over the next year into the Tap system through the use of a stand-beside validator. Cubic also designed and built the regional central data collection system that provides the regional back office and clearinghouse functions needed to perform funds settlement and financial reconciliation, as well as manage the data for all the regional participants.
“Latching means that the Metro rail stations will be seamlessly connected to stations and bus lines all over the region and an accurate method of accounting for fares is in place,” Villaraigosa said. “With added accountability, we’ll have better data that will help us tailor services and transit demand.”
Metro CEO Leahy noted that, “Currently, we send people to physically count riders, a time-consuming and expensive process. With Tap, we get real time, comprehensive data the Metro Operations team can use to adjust service to meet passenger demand.”