Metro has come a long way since abandoning its paper-ticket, and largely honor system-based, approach to collecting fares. In 2012, the agency locked turnstiles in their stations—meaning riders needed a fare to get through—and now every self-respecting commuter has a loaded TAP card in their wallet. But keep an eye on that card's expiration date. Yes, just like dairy products or a drivers license, TAP cards expire—after anywhere from three to 10 years. Worse yet, when TAP cards expire, any money left on them goes into limbo. According to LA Weekly, It's estimated that expired TAP money adds up to a whopping $2.7 million. Metro says that about half of those expired Tap balances will be transferred by customers to new cards, leaving the transit agency with $1.3 million dollars in unclaimed money.
With all that money just sitting there, why aren't more people claiming it? It might be because Metro does not make that easy to do. Transferring money from an expired TAP cannot be done at a Metro vending machine or on the web, only by calling Metro at a toll-free number and talking to a customer service representative. It might take a while to get through, because phone lines have been swamped lately. Almost 8,000 TAP balances have been transferred this year, with an average balance of about $23.
Metro says it doesn't allow transfers of TAP balances online or at machines in order to thwart theft and scams—thieves could steal TAP cards and empty them into their own, or workers given TAP cards from their place of business could dole that fare money out to friends.
According to the TAP cardholder agreement, Metro is entitled to draw from the $1.3 million dollars in unclaimed balances at the rate of $1 per month off each expired card. As of now, they have not elected to dip into that money. —Jeff Wattenhofer
· The MTA is Sitting on $1.3 Million from Expired Tap Cards [LA Weekly]
· When Metro Locks Subway Gates, Riders Actually Pay to Ride [Curbed LA]
· There's Now One Card to Pay For Every Transit Ride in Los Angeles County [Curbed LA]