Welcome to LA, prepare to TAP

Welcome to LA, prepare to TAP

I recently landed in Los Angeles, flying into LAX. An airport notoriously known for a lack of public transport options, though this has improved in recent years.

One surprising aspect of arrival was a notification from iOS suggesting I setup a TAP (Transit Access Pass) card to be used on the metro and buses.

One tap on the notification to accept it, and you're given a screen that will be familiar to anyone who has setup a similar card in Apple Wallet:

Setup screen for TAP in Apple Wallet

It's been years since I've visited LA, and I don't think TAP even existed when I was last in the city. Given I hadn't yet decided whether to take the (free) shuttle bus to the metro station or catch an Uber, this swayed me towards to PT option.

Choose the amount to topup, and pay with Apple Pay in-app.

The steps that followed are near identical to any public transport system that Apple hard-coded support for; generally major cities in North America and South East Asia.

The whole process is fast, doesn't have any beef with international cards or accounts (an issue commonly seen in some local apps, that don't permit international App Store download and/or non-local cards), and Apple Pay is of course used for the payment.

Once setup, the next steps provides some information about Express Mode. This avoids the need to authorise a payment via Face ID, simply detecting if you are using an approved card reader owned by TAP (or any public transport authority that supports this mode).

Above: No need to setup Express Mode for TAP, it's on by default.

All this means is that you tap your phone at the barriers for the metro and they'll open up. No need to unlock your phone or choose a card in advance.

None of this is new information to anyone that has been using this or related features for years now.  It's just nice to see the prompt when entering a city. Reducing the friction, increasing the chance people will use it.

My new TAP balance of $10 USD

So new time you're in LA or any city with this functionality, there's almost nothing to lose.

The better long-term solution for transit agencies is to support bank and credit cards, meaning visitors don't have to think about the amount to top up in advance.

Many cities like London, New York and Sydney all use credit card tap-on for public transport. That's the future, but for many cities this is the present, and it's pretty decent.


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