Metro Updating Fare Vending Machines, Sheriff Fare Check Devices, and App

New Metro vending machine screens to debut at Union Station this month. Image via Metro handout
New Metro vending machine screens to debut at Union Station this month. Image via Metro handout (updated to color 2:30pm)

Metro is in the processing of updating some of its TAP (Transit Access Pass) card technology.

Metro The Source author Steve Hymon phantom reflection selfie in Metro's new TAP vending machine screen. Via Metro Instagram.
Steve Hymon reflection selfie in Metro’s new TAP vending machine screen. Photo via Metro Instagram

Speaking before the Metro board of directors Finance, Budget, and Audit Committee yesterday, Metro TAP Deputy Executive Director David Sutton announced that, beginning later this month, Metro will debut its new vending machine interface. The new TVM (TAP Vending Machine) screen, shown above and at Metro’s Instagram, will be simpler and easier to use. This month it will be implemented at Union Station Red Line vending machines.

Sutton also announced that Metro has developed new fare checking devices, used by law enforcement to check TAP cards. Metro’s 2014 audit of the Sheriff’s (LASD) performance criticizes current mobile phone fare validators as slow and “highly prone to errors in reading TAP cards.” The new TAP validator enables “faster, more accurate fare inspection.” It is a new smart-phone based application, so it will also be easier to adapt to add new features.

The new fare check devices had been supposed to be in use last July, but had not been implemented as of late September 2014.

At this morning’s Metro Ad Hoc Policing Oversight Committee meeting, Metro Deputy Executive Officer for Protective Services Duane Martin implied that the new fare devices are now in use. In reviewing recent Metro accomplishments in response to last year’s LASD audit, Martin claimed that “we [Metro] have a new mobile phone validator.”

If readers spot the new vending machines and new TAP validators “in the field” let us know via comments.   

Also, according to Sutton, this week Metro is releasing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for development of a new smart phone app. Initially the “no- or low cost pilot” app will allow people to use their smart phone for credit card purchases to add money to a linked TAP card. In future phases, Metro riders will be able to use smart phones to pay fare. This kind of smart phone payment system is used in Seoul, South Korea. Are any readers familiar with it on transit systems in any other places?


  • calwatch

    Of course, on KNX Eric Garcetti promised something which could be completely different, a separate smartphone system for fare payment, Uber, taxi, and bike share. Looks like the Mayor’s Office and Metro staff may have two systems being developed in parallel.

  • Rocio

    In Tokyo you can use your cell phone (incl feature phones not just smart phones) as a tap card. But they hadn’t added the ability to put money directly on it with a credit card when I lived there 5 years ago.

  • Leslief84

    Portland uses a smartphone app for payment in their metro system.

  • Teresa La Farge

    I’m glad Metro changed the screens of the TVM’s. Especially the “Transfer ” option. A lot of patrons buy the Metro to Municipal transfers thinking that they are transfers for the train or cause they don’t want to pay the $1.75 fare. Now it will say “Non Metro”. JUST TO LET EVERYONE KNOW, IF YOU ARE USING A NON-METRO TRANSFER ON THE METRO TRAIN YOU WILL BE CITED!! ~LASD Security Assistant

  • Fakey McFakename

    What about passes & EZ Passes?

  • calwatch

    On the smart phone app issue, the problem is all this is moving in parallel since Metrolink put out an RFP for mobile ticketing, that includes every single transit agency in its scope of work EXCEPT Metro.

    So Metro is spending money to procure an app, and Metrolink has an app. And the Mayor is developing his own app. So now we have three entities trying to do the exact same thing. Wonderful.

  • June H

    Regarding the fare check apps, why can’t they just rely on occasional rotating sheriff presence at various turnstiles or validators to ensure people are tapping? The machine beeps differently and shows a red light if your card isn’t valid. It seems less harassing and just as effective. I’d rather see the occasional undercover sheriff crackdown on loud music, littering, aggressive behavior to dissuade people from doing that than TAP card checks where they just leave the car as soon as they know everyone has paid.

  • Kevin Freund

    They only bother people with the means to pay fines. Total police state in the subways.


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