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Seniors TAP their way into transit system

New bus pass is easy to use, environmentally friendly and secure

Posted: July 19, 2009 5:40 p.m.
Updated: July 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Corie Hill, right, a transit division administrative analyst, guides two seniors through the Transit Access Pass process at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center on July 8 in Newhall. The city of Santa Clarita transit facility provided information booklets for seniors at a Transit Access Pass workshop.

It's smart. It's simple. It's secure. And seniors from the Santa Clarita Valley left the Senior Center on Wednesday satisfied after signing up and receiving their new Transit Access Pass.

The TAP is a reloadable, microchip-embedded, plastic fare card riders can use month after month to ride city of Santa Clarita Transit local and commuter services.

With TAP, riders "tap" their cards on the farebox upon boarding a bus or metro, reducing waste and freeing riders from hauling around exact change.

The TAP cards will eventually replace all Santa Clarita paper passes, a transition expected to last a year, according to the city of Santa Clarita Transit Web site.

The city of Santa Clarita upgraded to Los Angeles County's new bus fare payment card program and started selling TAP cards in June. All city's transit routes officially transitioned to TAP on July 1.

Instead of mailing an application and waiting for the card to come through the mail, the city of Santa Clarita held two TAP workshops for seniors at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center in Newhall.

"We came here for a one-stop shop for seniors," said Corie Hill, administrative analyst for the city of Santa Clarita transit maintenance facility.

Interested seniors filled out an application, had their photo taken and left with a card ready to be used.

The entire process took about 3 minutes, Hill said.

Santa Clarita Valley seniors didn't hesitate to get on board with the new technology.

"We had about 75 seniors (sign up) on June 23," said Brendie Bandara, administrative analyst for the city of Santa Clarita transit maintenance facility. "We had over 100 people today."

Senior Tommie Ward, originally from Edison, Ga., who moved to Santa Clarita in September, looks forward to using her new TAP card.

"We don't have a program like this in Georgia," she said. "It's just something terrific."

Ward took extra applications and plans to invite three of her friends who didn't make it to the workshop Wednesday.

These cards are "very convenient to have," she said.

Seniors older than 60 years old were asked to provide photo identification and proof of age in order to get their cards.

The TAP cards for seniors over 60 are orange, in contrast with fare cards, which are blue.

The cards are not only convenient for seniors but for transportation personnel as well.

"It's a form of ID," Hill said. "If someone wants to check the age of senior riders, the card saves (transportation personnel) time."

The TAP system is administered by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and is valid on a number of different travel systems in Los Angeles County.

"Even if they ride free, they can use the card with other agencies," Hill said.

Foothill Transit, Culver City Bus, Norwalk Transit and Los Angeles Metro Rail are among agencies currently accepting the TAP card, Hill said.

"More agencies will be joining in the coming months, including Antelope Valley Transit Authority," she said.

If seniors plan on riding other participating lines (like Foothill, Metro or Norwalk), senior discounts don't apply until 62 or 65 years of age, depending on the agency.

Seniors can easily load up money on their senior TAP card and it can be used to pay fares on other participating lines.

"You put money on the card like a phone card," Hill said.

Interested seniors can apply for a TAP card at two locations: Transit maintenance facility located at 28250 Constellation Road. Office hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Cash or checks are accepted.

City of Santa Clarita City Hall at 23920 Valencia Boulevard. Office hours: 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursdays; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. Cash, checks or charge are accepted. For more info call (661) 295-6328.

Make sure to check for extended hours of operation as additional hours and weekend times could be added.


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