From what I can tell, you can buy the thing online and have it delivered to you (something you can do with San Francisco's Clipper [formerly TransLink] but not with TAP).
It also has a cash purse right off the bat. So far, this is standard operating practice for smart cards around the world (except in Los Angeles).
The thing that really gets me is that the CharmCard is completely compatible with Washington D.C.'s SmarTrip card. The two cards combined are usable on light rail, subways and bus services (although sadly not commuter rail) in Baltimore, Washington and Northern Virginia. And not just Washington Metro's fare gates, but the local muni bus lines in places like Loudoun County, Virginia.
Consider that TAP can't be used in San Diego. Or Orange County. Or even in Santa Monica.
Oh, and SmarTrip and CharmCard were built and designed by CUBIC.
The lack of a cash purse in TAP is an embarrassment that prevents me from using one since I don't ride every day or need a monthly pass like I did in the past. The fact that paper tickets can't be used with TAP is also not good. I see tourist waiving the paper tickets at the gates to make them open, very sad. I guess they think it works, since they open.
Post by James Fujita on Sept 30, 2010 20:12:55 GMT -8
Theoretically those changes should be able to be made.
All smart cards in use around the world from Tokyo to Hong Kong to London to Washington to San Francisco use exactly the same technology. If there's any differences whatsoever between them, it's sort of like the difference between a Mac and Windows. It's even the same vendor for a lot of the American systems.
And its not even particularly new technology, either. Tokyo's Suica has been around since 2001, the Bay Area has had TransLink since 2002 (Clipper and TransLink are the exact same thing, they just rebranded the program for some reason).
Suica, like Tokyo's subway system itself, is awesome. Its feature list is a mile long. But it's basically the same technology as TAP, just with a kawaii penguin mascot.
Incidentally, both Tokyo and San Francisco have fragmented rail and bus transit systems, but their smart cards work on pretty much all of their respective fragments (San Francisco is still working on it, but they're getting there).
Bottom line: the MTA (and Santa Monica Big Blue Bus and Long Beach Transit, as far as I'm concerned) sucks. The technology doesn't.