Linthicum is a Times staff writer.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to replace bus, subway and train passes with electronic fare cards, officials announced Monday.

The rechargeable cards, known as Transit Access Passes -- or TAP cards -- will be sold at vending machines across Los Angeles County. Riders will also be able to add money to the cards online.

Most passengers will have to make the switch from MTA passes to TAP cards in January, although recipients of senior, disabled and student discount passes will be phased into TAP over several months.


The conversion is part of an $89-million upgrade to MTA’s fare collection systems. Rechargeable fare cards similar to TAP have been used in other cities for decades.

Metro officials say the TAP cards will make it easier for passengers to transfer between transit operators and help reduce fraud. Passengers can register their TAP cards, and if they’re lost or stolen, the cards can be disabled.

The 400 retail outlets that sell monthly MTA passes will be selling the TAP cards exclusively by the end of January. Cash fares will continue to be accepted on MTA buses and trains. The TAP card will also be adopted by smaller transit agencies, including Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus.