Chip to replace graduate student TAP card in spring

Graduate Student Government has launched a program for spring 2017 to streamline the discount Transit Access Pass cards used by USC students to access Metro bus and rail. The program is in partnership with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority.

The new program, the Universal College Student Transit Pass, replaces the TAP cards used by graduate students with a “smart-chip” sticker that can be placed on their USC ID cards.

Instead of applying for a reduced-fare transit pass with Metro, graduate students are now able to purchase the pass online through GSG.

“We’ve been collaborating with Metro since August on this,” said Chris Records, director of campus affairs for GSG. “We adopted the program because it will be significantly cheaper and will allow savings to be passed on to students.”

The sticker features technology that enables the USC ID card to also become a TAP card. There is no change in the fare validation process and users simply tap their USC ID card at the fare validator as they normally did with a TAP card.

The U-Pass system gives students access to all transit services offered by more than 23 TAP-participating transit providers across the Los Angeles County region, including Culver CityBus, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus and DASH, all of which are accessible via the Metro Expo Line.

The U-Pass also comes preloaded with an unlimited Metro Rail and bus pass for the spring semester. This pass can be used over an 18-week period, including spring break, starting from Jan. 9 until May 13. According to Records, approximately 1,400 USC students take advantage of the program per semester.

In addition to USC, a number of other colleges in the L.A. area have also begun implementing the sticker technology. California State University Northridge was the first to introduce the technology during a pilot program in fall of last year.

According to GSG, compared to the previous TAP card system, the U-Pass Program will reduce the fare and still allow students to purchase a discounted semester pass. Full-time graduate students enrolled in six or more units who are interested in attaining a U-Pass can now purchase the pass on the GSG website for $107. After purchasing, students can pick up the pass during designated times at either Ronald Tutor Campus Center or the Health Sciences Campus.

“The cards were significantly more expensive than the stickers are,” Records said. “We hope that switching to the stickers will allow us to significantly lower the cost of the TAP passes and to serve more students.”

1 reply
  1. Sirinya Matute
    Sirinya Matute says:

    Just to clarify, because it is unclear from this article, USC U-Pass is presently a name for the unlimited Metro Bus and Metro Rail pass subsidized for you to buy through GSG. It is loaded onto a smartchip sticker from TAP that you can add to your USC ID card. USC U-Pass will not provide access to the other agencies you named. it’s the TAP technology that does. TAP is accepted on about two dozen transit agencies around LA County. What you can do is add money to that TAP sticker that hosts your USC U-Pass so you can pay for fares on those other operators, such as Big Blue Bus or Foothill Transit. Frankly, the easiest way to add money (aka “Stored Value”) to that TAP card is probably when you’re at a Metro Rail station. You can just go up to one of those ticket machines. I can’t speak to whether you’re able to add money to your TAP sticker when you pick it up.

    Don’t be left stranded! Load stored value onto your TAP sticker.

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