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Passenger Trains > New LA Metro ticket machines


Date: 11/19/12 16:35
New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: Ptolemy

I was in Los Angeles yesterday, and attempted to use the new ticket machines that require you to buy a "TAP" card, and found the system quite wanting.

The information on the machines is not clear, and when you ask for help, you get information scrolled past at a glacial pace, suitable for semi-literate three-year-olds.

It is not at all clear how to buy a ticket; I wanted a senior pass, and it is hard to find on the machines.

To add fare to the senior pass, it turns out that you cannot just add fare, but you have to go back to the senior pass screen and add fare there, not from the general add fare screen.

You have to buy a TAP card (cost $1), even for a single journey, which effectively raises the fare by that amount. If you don't live in Los Angeles but visit occasionally you have to remember to bring your card with you or buy another. The card expires if not used after a while (or charges you another dollar).

I have used transit systems all over the world, including many whose ticket machines were in languages or alphabets I barely understand. Rarely have I found such a user-unfriendly machine.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/19/12 18:01 by Ptolemy.



Date: 11/19/12 17:12
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: rdb3

I'd let them know directly. It's only software, and the more complaints they get the more likely they'll be to make it better.



Date: 11/19/12 17:29
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: DNRY122

This report reminds me of the transit critic who published the percentage of LA Metro employees who actually ride "Their sponsor's product". It was somewhere in the middle single digits, and remember that they get a free transit pass as a fringe benefit. Of course there are some employees who have to be at the "Divisions" at O-dark-30 AM to bring the first buses and trains out, but I don't think 95% of the staff are in that situation. So between the free passes and the overwhelming majority of personal vehicle drivers, there's not that much incentive to provide a "user friendly" fare media system.



Date: 11/19/12 17:41
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: erielackawanna

I have to agree - I have a Master's Degree from the University of Southern California, and I stood at the new Metro machine for about five minutes trying to figure it out. I have had an easier time using SNCF ticket machines in France that were in French (which I don't speak).



Date: 11/19/12 18:30
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: PHall

erielackawanna Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I have to agree - I have a Master's Degree from
> the University of Southern California, and I stood
> at the new Metro machine for about five minutes
> trying to figure it out. I have had an easier time
> using SNCF ticket machines in France that were in
> French (which I don't speak).

There's your problem, your degree is from USC! ;-)



Date: 11/19/12 20:30
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: trainjunkie

I went to ride the Green Line last week after not having ridden Metro for awhile and I too found the whole TAP card and vending machine interface confounding.

You used to be able to buy the fare from your origin point to your destination. If it was less than $5.00, the cost of a day pass, it was worth just buying that amount.

Now that information is nowhere to be found. I only wanted to ride two station stops away and wanted to spend as little as possible but all the machine lets you do is buy a card ($1.00 as mentioned) and add money to it for your trips. But nowhere could I find the cost of a trip. It was so infuriating that I almost abandoned the trip altogether opting instead to drive my truck. But my wife talked me into following through so I finally gave in and just bought a card for each of us and put five bucks or something like that on each one hoping that would cover us. I still have no idea how much the ride cost each of us.

So $12.00 total to ride two stops for 2 people only because I couldn't figure out the machine.

I too can ride all over Tokyo unable to read a single Kanji character, but I somehow find it intuitive. I've ridden systems all over the U.S. as well and never have I found a light rail system as useless and irritating as LA Metro. F-ing retards run this city, I swear.



Date: 11/19/12 21:44
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: erielackawanna

PHall Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> There's your problem, your degree is from USC!
> ;-)


Knew I was setting myself up for a Bruin!!!! :-)



Date: 11/19/12 22:50
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: Railrev

Four of us, all seniors, were completing a journey by train and bus from downtown to Pink's in Hollywood. On the last segment, that should have cost us 25 cents, senior fare on the red line, ended up costing us $1.25 each because we had to buy a TAP card. We were told the system was changing over and there were no other options. A couple of weeks later I took a friend to visit the USC campus and brought the TAP cards along for the ride from Union Station to USC. No tap card required.

The TAP Card is not user friendly for visitors to the city or infrequent riders. Seems like visitors and tourists would be more likely to use public transportation, yet the system seems to discourage it.



Date: 11/20/12 01:19
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: ken15

Hi Everyone:

I am a lifetime transit rider in Southern California and I am in communication with the current TAP card management due to my current TAP card problems.
I will inform them of all of the comments herein.
ken15

Posted from Android



Date: 11/20/12 04:12
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: coaststarlight99

ken15 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hi Everyone:
>
> I am a lifetime transit rider in Southern
> California and I am in communication with the
> current TAP card management due to my current TAP
> card problems.
> I will inform them of all of the comments herein.
> ken15
>
> Posted from Android

Good idea, Ken. Perhaps send them a .pdf copy of this thread? (Hit "Print" and then instead of printing, select "PDF" and you can make a .pdf copy of the whole page).



Date: 11/20/12 06:45
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: Ptolemy

Thanks, everyone, for your comments. When something like this happens, one's first thought of course is that it is your own ineptitude, not the system. But it is the system, and something needs to be done. To pay $1.25 for a ride that costs 25 cents is obscene. It certainly is far from user-friendly, especially for out of town people. If someone has any contacts in the LA Tourist office, it would be worth contacting them as well.



Date: 11/20/12 07:20
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: kk5ol

trainjunkie Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> So $12.00 total to ride two stops for 2 people
> only because I couldn't figure out the machine.

Unfortunately this seems to be "Marketing 101" in the electronic age.
"We don't care what you want! Pay what we want and maybe you'll get what you want."

RailNet802, owevaaaah



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/20/12 07:22 by kk5ol.



Date: 11/20/12 10:57
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: ken15

I talked to the head of TAP a little while ago and he wants to see the postings.
A link sent from my Android phone will be sufficient.
ken15

Posted from Android



Date: 11/20/12 11:44
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: DNRY122

When college graduates and railfans have trouble, one can imagine what it's like for the poor, the elderly and the foreign-born who aren't "tech-savvy".



Date: 11/20/12 13:50
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: trainjunkie

One other thing that ticked me off that I didn't mention earlier is that the so-called "Help" screen didn't mirror the choices in the actual buying process. It made references to a paper ticket and fares, but no such options were actually available that I could fund. It's like they "upgraded" the user interface for the purchasing process and forgot to create a new help system to support it.

Of all places to deploy a confusing vending system, in a mass-transit environment where most people are in a hurry and lines back up quickly when there is trouble. Gotta' love L.A. where doing things right is always an afterthought.



Date: 11/20/12 15:10
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: CPRR

We had the same problem going from N. Hollywood to USC. The machine made no sense, there was no fare chart to know how much to pay. I was not the only one looking confused......



Date: 11/20/12 18:33
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: ken15

Hi Again Everyone:

TAP Management at METRO has read your comments herein and after my signature, has allowed me to post various comments I am sure you are interested in. I have edited out some comments which were addressed to me personally.

ken15

From David Sutton, Interim TAP Operations Manager, METRO:


Hi Ken, thanks for the link to the TAP comments. Please feel free to post this. I agree the TAP machines are difficult to use. As you may have seen we have temporary staff assisting customers at most of the major rail stations including: Union Station; god and red/purple, 7th and Metro, Universal City, Hollywood/Highland and North Hollywood. They are also deployed at major events such as USC games, Christmas Parade etc. We are currently working on a two-fold strategy to improve TVMs. For the short term we are replacing the head sign to better inform customers as to how to buy a fare. We also have changed the screen saver and the LED message sign to help get new customers started. We are redoing our posters and banners mounted in the stations to explain step by step how to purchase a regular one way fare and a senior/disabled one-way fare specifically. We are also highlighting in blue the one-way fares for seniors/disabled on the TVM. For the long term we are redesigning the TVM screens to make it more intuitive for first time riders and provide a shortcut for return riders. TAP cards are good for three years and are required for travel on Metro Rail. A little known benefit is that cards can be registered to protect the balance on the card from theft or loss. TAP cards are necessary for rail travel to prepare for gate locking scheduled now for mid-June.



Date: 11/20/12 18:41
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: erielackawanna

That's a great response. Thanks for sending that on, Ken.



Date: 11/20/12 19:02
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: Ptolemy

>
There are several problems with Mr. Sutton's response.. In the first place, my experience that started this thread was day before yesterday (Sunday). Unless the changes listed were done yesterday or today, my troubles were after these "improvements." Secondly, during my several trips through Union Station and 7th St. on Sunday I saw no personnel available to assist anyone (I did see many people struggling with the machines). And finally, the crucial issue is not addressed: you have to buy (and pay for) a Tap card even to make a short trip, and it is not user friendly for out-of-towners. Anyone who reads the back of the card knows they can be registered; this has absolutely nothing to do with the problems I outlined.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/20/12 19:04 by Ptolemy.



Date: 11/20/12 19:28
Re: New LA Metro ticket machines
Author: ken15

I am forwarding the latest feedback comments to Mr. Sutton both good and bad.

In my opinion, he is very responsive especially for my situation for an old TAP card with the new EZ Pass sticker.

The last few days, the card has been working better but he is still sending me a temporary TAP card, etc.

Continue to post your comments, good or bad and I promised him I would forward the comments on.

ken15



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