We are on the last lap approaching the end of my long exertions as self-appointed chief TAP (Transit Access Pass) watchdog for our region, my friends. This long troubled program has finally unequivocally turned the corner and is fast approaching victory lane. Kudos and plaudits from all quarters are raining down on David Sutton who laist recently dubbed “the guy at Metro in charge of TAP operations.” Sutton built on the yeomen effort mounted by Matt Raymond (until recently Metro’s Chief Communications Officer) who first was handed the unenviable task of fixing TAP after the TAPucrats who labored ten years and spent millions in creating TAP mishandled it in such egregious fashion that one feels as if Raymond was one day handed a broom and told to tidy up the mess left behind by the elephant herd that TAP had become. We now have an actual date for the gate latching that feels real (June 2013) AND promised expansion that will fulfill the long promised potential of the technology (from 9 agencies to 24) in the next 12 months. Who’d have thunk it?
This all of course thanks to the last piece of the puzzle recently falling into place with a solution being found for the vexing problem of how to give Metrolink riders the ability to get through locked Red/Purple Line station gates.
The report being presented at the Metro Board Executive Management Committee meeting today is mostly full of administrative tidying up about staffing and consultants but does have some juicy details worthy of excerpting:
In response to the Board adopted motion to latch Metro Rail station gates, Metro has developed a plan to begin latching in June 2013. In order to meet this deadline, preparation must be done before June 2013 to ensure that access to rail stations for all existing customers is maintained. Closed Caption Television (CCTV) cameras and telephones located by the gates are being installed. Patrons requiring assistance will be able to utilize these telephones to gain assistance from personnel located at the Rail Operations Control (ROC) through a live voice connection. ROC personnel must be trained to address all the different patron issues (i.e. gating and TAP card issues) . Gate Latching tests are currently underway, with testing of the Wilshire/Normandie, Wilshire/Western, and North Hollywood stations already completed. The results of these station tests show that the CCTV cameras and telephones have been successful in assisting customers through the gates.
TAP is expanding to include fifteen (15) additional transit operators in the next twelve months. These include: Metrolink, Torrance, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Burbank, Redondo Beach, La Mirada, County of Los Angeles, LAWA, Monterey Park, Glendale, Santa Fe Springs, Palos Verdes, Pasadena, and Whittier. TAP is nearly tripling in size, expanding from nine (9) operators to twenty-four (24) operators, to include TAP equipment in over 500 more buses throughout the region bringing us closer to providing a truly universal fare system for our customers.
Good news isn’t as exciting as bad news but as a rider I am happy that we have at last arrived at the long promised (but often hard to believe it would ever happen) happy ending!