Metro’s TAP problems – Bus Driver Training
Metro has received a lot of attention lately because of the implementation of their TAP – Transit Access Pass fare collection system. CityWatch published a pretty accurate list of TAP issues that frustrate transit users on a daily basis. Metro’s in-house news team The Source published a rebuttal with a memo from David Sutton, Deputy Executive Officer, TAP.
Metro did provide some explanation and solutions to some of the issues, but certainly did not give anyone the impression TAP is going to get any better soon. Those major issues aside, I think Metro has a bigger problem on hand that they don’t talk about. Bus driver implementation of the TAP program.
I recently wrote about my experience trying to purchase a Day pass from a bus operator using the stored value on my TAP card, after all one of the reasons to go to a smart card system is to store money on it for ease of purchasing 1 trip fares or day/monthly passes. 2 drivers didn’t know how to add a day pass using the stored value on the TAP card or they said it couldn’t be done. I understand 2 is a small sample size to judge a system with over 4,400 bus/rail operators but as a customer it only takes 1 bad experience to get frustrated with the failing system.
Most of the time my journey starts at a metro rail station where there are plenty of vending machines to quickly add a day pass to my TAP card using the stored value. However when I do start a journey using the bus I expect the same level of service to add my day pass to the TAP card. Yesterday I tried to do this one more time. I boarded the 158 bus toward Chatsworth station and asked the driver if I could purchase a day pass using the stored value on my card. He gave me a questioned look and said it was $5.00. I said yes a day pass is $5.00 and I want to deduct it from my card. He said if I had stored value just tap the card and the reader will deduct the fare. I insisted I wanted a day pass and it required him to do something before I Tapped my card. Again he was confused, so I surrendered yet again to the ignorance of the bus driver and tapped my card to pay a one way fare.
This was not only frustrating by embarrassing as I was showing a new bus rider how to use the system. Certainly your first experience on the bus should not be met with confusion by the operator. I sent a complaint to Metro customer service for a second time on this issue. I am afraid each time I try to purchase a day pass from a bus operator I will be wasting my time and money complaining.
I did tweet a message to @metrolosangeles stating my issue (I errantly put the wrong bus number 165 instead of 158, but does it really matter) and they replied back with a message that they are working on a TAP sales training program for bus drivers for which I asked if TAP has been in use for over 3 years why are they now just implementing a training program? Metro has spent a lot of money on the TAP system and still have not met the customer needs when it comes to executing it on a daily basis. Lets hope Metro follows through and I won’t have to battle bus drivers and tell them how to do their job.
I just received a call from the metro customer service center. They wanted to let me know that my complaint was being addressed and apologized for the inconvenience. The agent also noted if you have a driver that does not know how to do it, to tell them to hit the day pass button and then you can tap your card and the $5.00 will be deducted and the day pass will be loaded.