Local Transportation TAP Card Explanation

The TAP CARD is the sole medium for DAY PASSES, WEEKLY PASSES and MONTHLY PASSES for all Metro rail train & bus lines.  (You can still pay $1.75 for each individual Metro bus ride but Metro rail rides must be paid for using a TAP CARD that you have pre-loaded with fare).  The TAP CARD is a ‘credit card sized’ plastic card that you can use over and over throughout your visit. To use it, simply ‘add fare to it’ by buying fare ($1.75 for each single-ride you wish to make, $7 for each ‘day pass’ you want, $25 for each ‘weekly pass’. or $100 for each 'monthly pass'). Note: only ONE person may use each card per day. Only one DAY PASS may be added to the TAP CARD at a time. 

You needn't use the card on the day that you add the PASS to it.  Simply start using the card on the day you wish and the Pass will beome activated for that day and is valid until 3 a.m. of the following day.  For example the WEEKLY PASSES become validated on the day that you first use them.  For example, if you load a WEEKLY pass onto your TAP card on a Monday, but don’t use the card until Thursday, the Pass will start on Thursday (the day you first ‘tapped’ the card on the ‘card reader’ on a bus or metro rail train scanning post).

You may load any combination of PASSES and individual fares onto a TAP CARD, so for example. you can load a DAY PASS ($7) as well as a single-ride fare ($1.75). 

Note: if you load a DAY PASS onto a TAP CARD and ALSO add cash fare onto the card, the Metro system will use the DAY PASS to pay your fare on the day that you start using the CARD.  Any cash fare loaded onto the card will be ignored by Metro until the next day.  Let's look at an example: You plan to take only ONE RIDE on the Metro system on a Monday but you plan to take 5 rides on the Metro system on a Tuesday.  To prepare for these rides, you load onto the CARD $1.75 in fare as well as a DAY PASS thinking that you'll use the $1.75 on Monday and the DAY PASS on Tuesday.  In reality, the Metro system will act as follows: On Monday, when you tap your card for the one and only ride that you plan to take on that day, the Metro system will take payment from you using the DAY PASS and will leave the $1.75 fare intact on the TAP CARD; on Tuesday, it will deduct that $1.75 cash balance for the first ride of the day; when you use the card for the next ride, you'll be informed that you have no fare 'loaded' onto the card (since the DAY PASS was used for the prior day).

So, keep in mind that Metro will always pay for trips when you present your TAP CARD by looking for DAY PASSES (and other PASSES) first.  The lesson to be learned is: if you plan to maintain a cash balance for an upcoming trip(s), do not load a DAY PASS onto the TAP CARD until you have finished taking those trips.  (Any bus driver can add fare -- a PASS or a 'Cash Balance' -- to your TAP Card.  You can also do this at any metro rail station).  The only exception is the following: if you plan to use the cash balance for rides on public transit that is NOT PART of the Metro system of buses and trains (like buses run by the city of Santa Monica or the city of Culver City), you can load both a  PASS and a cash balance and then each public transit company will know whether to pull fare from the DAY PASS or the 'cash balance'.  If you're still in doubt or confused, just load one DAY PASS onto your CARD and then pay cash as you need to out of your pocket.  (The only time you can pay cash is on buses and you can always do so by using currency and coins.  On Metro RAIL, all fares must be paid using the TAP CARD.  PASSES will always work on the Metro rail system because it's part of 'METRO transis system' whereas some of the buses are not part of 'METRO' and that's when you'd need to have cash loaded onto the TAP CARD or pay by cash).


All ticket vending machines at Metro Rail stations sell the TAP CARD (including the Metro Rail station at Union (rail) Station in downtown Los Angeles - here, the TAP cards are sold in the red/purple and gold line metro rail stations -- not in the main ticketing area of the train station.) You may also buy TAP CARDS from one of Metro’s vendors whose locations are in popular ‘tourist friendly’ neighborhoods as listed below.  

You can add fare to your existing TAP cards at any of the locations where the TAP CARDS are sold or you can add fare to your TAP CARD on any Metro bus.  Just ask the driver to add a PASS or cash balance to your TAP CARD. You can, sometimes,  purchase a new TAP CARD (if you don't have one yet) from the driver of a bus but supplies are not always available.  If the driver has a supply, you must purchase a DAY PASS (at minimum) when you purchase the TAP CARD.  The COMBINED cost for the reusable TAP card + DAY PASS varies depending on where you buy it.  If you buy it on a bus, the cost is $8.  If you buy it at a metro rail station, the cost is $8.  If you buy it at one of Metro's vendors, the cost is $9 ($7 for the DAY PASS and $2 for the TAP CARD).  Note: There is no place to buy a TAP card at (or near) LAX except as follows:

1. At the Green Line Metro Rail Station which is adjacent to the airport. Transfer info to this station is in our FAQs section called “ARRIVAL / DEPARTURE TRANSPORTATION”

2. At the Ralph’s supermarkets at:
i. 8824 S. Sepulveda Bl, Los Angeles, CA 90045.  Phone: (310) 645-2035 (about .5 miles / .8 km NORTH of LAX)
ii. 500 N Sepulveda BlvdEl Segundo, CA 90245.  Phone: (310) 615-0537 (about a mile / 1.6 km SOUTH of LAX).
These stores are open late but they sell the TAP CARD during normal daytime working hours only.  Call the stores to check on availability.  It’s a short drive to either store from LAX.  If you’re relying upon public transit, you’ll need to transfer to the bus plaza adjacent to the airport.  (If you take a taxi for the short ride, it will cost $19 + tip -- the minimum charge for taxi rides INITIATING at LAX).  See the LOCAL TRANSPORTATION section of the FAQS for instructions on transferring to the LAX bus plaza.

Once you purchase this card, you must buy the fare that you want and ‘add it to the card’. One way to do this is at the same place you buy the card. For example, if you want a card with a DAY PASS on it, you would pay $8  -- $1 for the cost of the card plus $7 for the DAY PASS’s fare on your new card. You can add fare (also known as ‘loading value’) to your card in the following ways:

1. Using the vending machines at any metro rail station

2. Using the vending machines at any orange line (busway stations in the San Fernando Valley)

3. At most METRO retail/vendor outlets (listed below).

4. Online at the TapToGo.Net website (Click the yellow box in the middle of the homepage)

5. Aboard any METRO bus (not, DASH buses or Buses of any municipality. like the Santa Monica or Culver City Buses, for example). This may change in the future but for now, only METRO buses will be on the TAP system.

You can buy the TAP card, and (optionally) add fare to it at the  locations, below.  Be aware that these vendors have limited hours during which time they sell the passes, usually between 9 a.m. and either 5 p.m. or 7 p.m.:

1. In Hollywood:

a. (In Central Hollywood) The Hollywood Visitor Information Center on the front of the Hollywood & Highland Center Mall to the right (east of) the Virgin Megastore. The mall is located on Hollywood Bl, just west of Highland Avenue in the center of Hollywood.

b. (In eastern Hollywood, adjacent to the Los Feliz Community) at

i. Ralphs Grocery Store, 5429 Hollywood Blvd

ii. Vons Grocery Store, 4520 Sunset Blvd.

2. In downtown Los Angeles, at:

a. LA Convention & Visitors Bureau, 685 S. Figueroa Street

b. L.A. Dept of Transportation, 201 N. Los Angeles St, Suite #1

3. In the western part of Hollywood (just east of West Hollywood) at the Ralph’s Grocery Store, 7257 Sunset Blvd.

4. In West Los Angeles (east of the city of Santa Monica and south of the Brentwood neighborhood) at the Ralphs Grocery Store, 11727 Olympic Blvd.

5. In the city of West Hollywood (just south of the Sunset Strip) at the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, 8272 Santa Monica Blvd (between Crescent Hts Bl & La Cienega Bl, next to the West Hollywood City Hall.

6. In Beverly Hills (south of Wilshire Bl at the corner of Olympic Bl & Beverly Bl) at the Pavilions Place Grocery Store, 9457 W. Olympic Blvd.

7. In the city of El Segundo (south of LAX) at the Ralphs Grocery Store, 500 N. Sepulveda Blvd., El Segundo

8. In the city of Hermosa Beach (which is between Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach in the ‘south bay’ section of greater L.A.) at the Hermosa Beach City Hall, 1315 Valley Dr., Hermosa Beach

10. In Venice, at: Continental Currency Services, 303 Lincoln Blvd., Venice

11. In Marina del Rey, at: Ralphs Grocery Store, 4311 Lincoln Blvd., Marina Del Rey

12. In Santa Monica, at:

a, Vons Grocery Store, 1311 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica

b. Ralphs Grocery Store, 1644 Cloverfield Blvd., Santa Monica

13. In Long Beach, at:

a. Any Nix Checking Cashing Office

b. Any Continental Currency Services Office

c. Ralphs Grocery Store, 4250 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach

14. In Pasadena, at:

a. Any Continental Currency Services Office

b. Berry & Sweeney Pharmacy, 1377 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

15. In Sherman Oaks, at:

a. Vons Grocery Store, 14845 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks

b. Any Ralph’s Food Store

16. In Burbank, at:

a. New Village Deli & Market, 211 E. Olive Ave., Burbank

b. Ralphs Grocery Store, 25 E. Alameda Ave., Burbank

17. In Studio City, at:

Vons Grocery Store, 4033 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Studio City

For more locations in these neighborhoods and for locations in other parts of the city, you can look at the complete list of vendors (below) or look for one of the following large retailers who sell TAP cards at their locations throughout the L.A. metro area:

1. Ace Cash Express

2. Continental Currency Services

3. Nix Check Cashing

4. Papa Cash

5. Payless Foods

6. Ralphs Grocery Stores

7. Vons Grocery Stores

Okay, click below to find the locations of the stores selling the TAP CARD: