Bus TAP fareboxes and equipment could receive upgrades

Busses leaving the McBean Reagional Transit Center on the corner of McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard in Valencia. Cory Rubin/The Signal
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Public transportation commuters who use the Transit Access Pass may soon notice some changes as the Santa Clarita City Council is expected to approve a $1.3 million contract for fareboxes and equipment updates.

A planned project by the city would improve TAP farebox operations by allowing online orders in near real-time via mobile devices, accept more secured smartcards and allow for new payment options.

This comes as a result of equipment operating just beyond its expected life span of 10 years, since installment into Santa Clarita’s paratransit fleet in 2007.

“The current fare collection equipment has exceeded its useful life and is not compatible with current and future fare collection technologies, such as open payment technologies,” according to the city agenda report.

By upgrading, the planned project “will not only upgrade the aging parts, but will include a supply of spare equipment for future use,” the agenda report reads. Because current fareboxes fail to communicate in real-time, a 24 to 48-hour delay is caused between the time a customer purchases a fare product online and the time the product can be used onboard buses.  


Several TAP transit agencies have experienced similar issues. As the equipment continues to age, the agencies using it will not be able to properly collect fare payments or ridership data. The manufacturer has ceased producing Santa Clarita’s version of the motherboard in favor of an updated board.

Changes may soon be underway, however, as council members on Tuesday will discuss whether to execute a contract with Cubic Transportation Systems for the procurement and installation of new equipment.

In December, the company offered the city a proposal for the upgrade project, listing more than 300 equipment items, such as 85 farebox upgrade kits, that totaled $1.19 million. L.A. Metro has agreed to cover just more than $1 million of the city’s total project costs “subsequent to the city entering into a reimbursement agreement,” the agenda report reads.

Local ridership has decreased, with data from the Santa Clarita Transit Center showing an 8-percent drop from 2016 to 2017, or 2.44 million to 2.25 million. Changing demographics, ride-share popularity and student enrollment are all factors in the decline, according to Transit Manager Adrian Aguilar.

Still, hundreds of thousands of individuals use public transportation on a daily basis and depend on well-rounded operating services, including the TAP program, which is an integrated, regional fare collection system comprised of fareboxes, validators, controlling computers and other fare collection equipment. Today, 26 regional transit agencies operate with TAP and more than 675 different fare products across all agencies are available.

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