We've Switched to Contactless Fare Payments!
Big Blue Bus no longer accepts cash and tokens on board. Customers are required to make contactless fare payments with TAP or a mobile ticket, instead of cash and tokens.
Contactless is the safer, faster, and more convenient way to pay your fare. And for a limited time, Regular customers can ride Big Blue Bus for only $1 each way with contactless fare payments; Senior/Disabled/Medicare (S/D/M) customers ride for just $0.40.
There are two (2) ways to make contactless fare payments on Big Blue Bus:
Need help deciding which contactless option is best for you?
Let's talk about it! Make an appointment to see us at Blue: The Transit Store, or call Customer Service at (310) 451-5444. We'll explain how contactless payments work on Big Blue Bus, and help you get on your way without cash. Schedule your appointment now at: santamonica.gov/appointment.
Book an appointment
If you rode transit before the pandemic and paid with cash, then you know how difficult carrying cash and coins can be while on the go. TAP eliminates the burden of carrying exact change, by offering a single, durable and reusable card that works as your transit pass.
TAP cards are secure and smart, and can be loaded with Stored Value (valid on any TAP-participating transit agency) or a Big Blue Bus pass for seamless travel throughout the Westside and LA County.
What’s Stored Value?
Stored Value is a specified amount of money that you load onto your TAP card. (It's similar to how you might load cash onto a prepaid gift or debit card, except this card pays for your transit rides!) When boarding a bus or train, simply use your pre-loaded card to pay your fare - the cost of the ride is automatically calculated and deducted from the balance on your card.
Stored Value is accepted on 26 TAP-participating transit agencies in LA County, including Big Blue Bus, Metro, Culver CityBus, and Foothill Transit. For a complete list of agencies that accept TAP, visit: taptogo.net/TAPAgencies
How do I pay with Stored Value on Big Blue Bus?
That’s easy! As soon as you board the bus, look for the validator on your right-hand side (it’s a small black box with a blue circle that reads “TAP”). Hold your TAP card on or near the validator, until the screen on the validator turns green; if a red screen appears, that means you need to load your card with Stored Value, or a Big Blue Bus pass.
Need to transfer to a different agency to complete your trip? No problem! Use your Stored Value on your TAP card to transfer between agencies for just $0.50 (or $0.25 for Senior/Disabled/Medicare customers) -- you can read more about transfers here: bigbluebus.com/fares/interagency-transfers
Note: Youth and S/D/M customers must apply to receive a Reduced Fare TAP card, in order to receive a discounted rate on Big Blue Bus. Applications can be completed in-person or online, and eligible applicants typically receive their personalized card in the mail within 8 weeks. For more details, visit: bigbluebus.com/fares
How do I load Stored Value on my Card?
You can load Stored Value on your TAP card in several convenient ways:
Try the TAP app
You can now pay your fare on TAP using your iPhone, Apple Watch, or Android device instead of a physical card! Use the app to buy Stored Value and Big Blue Bus passes from anywhere, and pay on board with your mobile device. For more details, visit: taptogo.net/tap-app
Get free rides every month with the LIFE program
LA County residents may be eligible to receive 20 free rides on Big Blue Bus every month, through the Low-Income Fare is Easy (LIFE) program. The LIFE program provides fare subsidies to low-income individuals that may be applied toward (1) the purchase of passes on Big Blue Bus (or any LIFE-participating transit agency), or (2) a free 20-Ride Regional Pass on TAP.
To learn more about the LIFE program, including eligibility and how to apply, visit: bigbluebus.com/life
Mobile tickets offer an easy, convenient, and contactless fare payment option for Big Blue Bus customers. Tickets can be purchased through Transit (our official app), Token Transit, and coming soon other third-party apps available for iOS and Android smartphones. Big Blue Bus Single Rides and passes can be purchased in the app for immediate use or stored for future trips.
How do I pay with a mobile ticket on Big Blue Bus?
As the bus approaches, activate your mobile ticket in the app (note that an internet connection is required to purchase a mobile ticket). Once onboard, follow instructions in the app to validate your ticket with the validator (a small white and blue box located next to the farebox that reads “TT”), or by showing your ticket to the Operator.
Note: Big Blue Bus’s mobile tickets are designed to be clearly visible beyond 6-feet, making it easy for Operators to visually validate tickets at a safe distance.
If using the validator, it will beep to verify your ticket is valid, and your phone will flash green (Regular ticket) or blue (Reduced Fare ticket). If the validator does not beep, your ticket may be invalid, or you may be required to show your ticket to the Operator.
Watch how to buy and pay your fare with the Transit app:
Reduced Fare Mobile Tickets for Youth & S/D/M
Youth and S/D/M riders must visit Blue: Transit Store to verify eligibility for mobile ticket pass purchases, using one of the following valid forms of identification:
Current report card,
current valid school ID, class schedule with total number of units, official
letter from school verifying enrollment, birth certificate, OR valid
passport, California ID card, OR California driver’s license
Valid California ID
card, California driver’s license, Senior TAP Card, OR passport
(1) Valid California
ID card, California driver’s license OR passport, AND
(2) Valid LACTOA TAP
ID Card, Medicare card, California DMV Placard, Braille ID cards, OR ACCESS
Services TAP Card
Medicare card (NOT
Medicare supplement or Medi-Cal card is not accepted.)
For more details about mobile tickets, visit: bigbluebus.com/eticket
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why did Big Blue Bus switch to contactless fare payments?
We switched to contactless fare payments on July 12, 2021, as part of a short-term pilot to help us study the benefits of a cashless system. By temporarily eliminating cash and token payments on board, we aim to make our buses safer and more hygienic for customers and staff – reducing the spread of infectious disease caused by bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.
We also hope to move riders more efficiently on our system, by greatly reducing the amount of time they spend paying their fare on board.
2. Can I still use cash to pay for Big Blue Bus rides off the bus?
Yes. You can still use cash to buy and load Stored Value at hundreds of TAP vendor locations throughout LA County. To view a map of TAP vendor locations in our service area, visit: bigbluebus.com/getapass.
For a complete list of TAP vendors locations in LA County, visit: taptogo.net/vendors.
3. I’m new to contactless fares and don’t understand how it works. Can you help me?
Absolutely! Make an appointment for in-person assistance at Blue: The Transit Store (1444 4th St., Santa Monica). During your appointment, we'll explain how contactless payments work on Big Blue Bus, and help you get on your way without cash
4. How is Big Blue Bus protecting the health and safety of customers?
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Big Blue Bus has implemented changes to how you ride, including more rigorous cleaning procedures, mandatory face coverings and social distancing, and more.
To learn about all that we’re doing to protect the health of our customers and staff, visit: bigbluebus.com/welcomeback.