Rumor: Metro Rescinds TAP Corner Notch Policy (updated, 1:16 P.M.)

3_26_10_metro.jpgRemember this? How about we forget it? Image via The Bus Bench
Eleven days ago, Brown Molyneux completely took apart the Metro Policy as it related to "notching" TAP cards when, for whatever reason, they weren't working. The policy was supposed to work like this, Metro bus drivers would notch a corner of a TAP card when the fare boxes on the bus failed to read the card or the box showed the card didn't have sufficient funds. Once a card got four notches, it would be seized and destroyed, forcing the holder to get a new card.

Given the many problems with the TAP system over the years, and blogs such as the Bus Bench and Metro Rider have more than chronicled the TAP follies and even though I haven't ridden a Metro Bus in two years, it wasn't rare that the fare collection machine was jammed or otherwise inoperable.

This is one of those rare Metro policies, such as the decision to install fare gates to keep us safe from terrorists, that was universally reviled. Regular readers of the comments section were probably shocked to see Dana Gabbard and Browne in complete agreement on an issue, any issue. The main complaint was that Metro's TAP readers have had what we're going to charitably call a "less than perfect" record of working. Horror stories about being thrown off trains, ticketed and even threatened with arrest because readers aren't working were too common a story during implementation and some systems that were supposed to be on the TAP system, such as Foothill Transit, are now opting out. So wouldn't this new policy basically be punishing people for choosing to TAP over paper tickets?

Good news, the new policy is no more. According to sources familiar with the negotiations, the policy was "quietly reversed after the union representing Metro's bus operators objected." While I can't reveal my sources, I will say it's someone completely trustworthy on Metro issues. The drivers didn't like the idea of being forced to confront both fare cheats and people who were being wrongly singled out by a broken system.

Metro's communications office writes that the people in charge of TAP implementation are out today, but we'll get an official confirmation on Monday.

(Update. Got the following email from Metro, we'll continue to monitor and get to the bottom of this:

Damien, here's a response from Matt Raymond, who heads up our TAP program:

The clipping of TAP cards is an interim program to identify inoperable TAP cards. I'm not aware of any union requests to discontinue. We are closely monitoring the program to evaluate next steps. We will let you know of any changes to the program as decisions are made.