How To Pay For The Bus In Los Angeles: A Comprehensive Guide

Riding the bus is a convenient and affordable way to get around Los Angeles. With Metro operating over 170 bus lines across LA County, the bus system connects many neighborhoods and destinations across the region. However, knowing how to pay your bus fare can be confusing for new riders.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: You can pay for the bus in LA using a TAP card, which you load with cash value or passes at TAP vending machines located at metro stations. You can also pay using cash (exact change only) when boarding the bus.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain all your options for paying bus fares in LA, including TAP cards, passes, transfers, and discounts. We’ll also provide tips for using Metro buses to help you ride like a local!

Getting a TAP Card

What is a TAP Card?

A TAP card is a reusable smart card that allows you to pay for bus fares and transfers in Los Angeles. It is a convenient and cost-effective way to travel around the city. The card can be loaded with value or passes, and the fare is deducted automatically when you tap the card on the farebox when boarding the bus.

Using a TAP card also gives you access to various benefits, such as discounted transfers and free transfers between buses and trains within a certain time frame.

Where to Get a TAP Card

Getting a TAP card is easy. You can purchase one at any TAP vending machine located at Metro Rail and Orange Line stations. These machines accept cash, credit/debit cards, and TAP cards as payment. You can also visit a TAP retailer, such as a participating Ralphs or 7-Eleven store, to buy a card.

Additionally, you can order a TAP card online and have it mailed to your address. This is a convenient option if you prefer to have the card delivered to your doorstep.

How to Load Value and Passes onto a TAP Card

Once you have a TAP card, you can load value or passes onto it in several ways. The most common method is to use a TAP vending machine, where you can add cash or use a credit/debit card to load funds onto your card. These machines are available at Metro Rail and Orange Line stations.

Alternatively, you can load value or passes onto your TAP card online through the official TAP website. This allows you to conveniently manage your card balance from the comfort of your home.

It’s important to note that some passes, such as monthly or weekly passes, have expiration dates. Make sure to check the validity period before loading a pass onto your TAP card.

TAP Card Tips

  • Register your TAP card online to protect the balance in case your card is lost or stolen.
  • Keep your TAP card separate from other contactless payment cards (e.g., credit cards) to avoid accidental charges.
  • Remember to tap your TAP card on the farebox every time you board a bus to ensure the correct fare is deducted.
  • Check your TAP card balance regularly to ensure you have enough funds for your journey.
  • If you plan to use your TAP card for multiple modes of transportation, such as buses and trains, consider loading a pass that covers all your intended trips to save money.

For more information about TAP cards and how to use them, you can visit the official TAP website at

Purchasing Bus Passes in LA

Types of Metro Passes

When it comes to paying for the bus in Los Angeles, there are several types of Metro passes available for purchase. The most common pass is the TAP card, which allows riders to load money onto the card and use it for multiple trips.

There are also day passes, which provide unlimited rides for a 24-hour period, and weekly passes for those who need to commute regularly. If you’re a frequent traveler, you may want to consider a monthly pass, which offers even greater convenience and savings.

Where to Buy Passes

Buying bus passes in LA is easy and convenient. Passes can be purchased at any Metro Rail station, as well as at select retail locations throughout the city. To find the nearest location to you, simply visit the Metro website at and use their interactive map feature.

You can also purchase passes online and have them delivered to your home, making it even more convenient to access public transportation in Los Angeles.

TAP Mobile App

If you prefer a more digital approach to paying for the bus, the TAP Mobile App is the perfect solution. Available for both iOS and Android devices, the app allows you to purchase and manage your Metro passes right from your smartphone.

Simply download the app, create an account, and add funds to your TAP card or purchase a new pass directly within the app. This innovative tool not only simplifies the payment process but also provides real-time updates on bus schedules and service disruptions, making your commute even smoother.

Paying Cash Fares on the Bus

When it comes to paying for the bus in Los Angeles, cash fares are one of the most common methods. Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor to the city, understanding the process of paying cash fares can make your commute a breeze.

Regular Bus Fares

The regular bus fare in Los Angeles is $1.75 for a one-way trip. This fare allows you to travel on any local bus for up to two hours with unlimited transfers. It’s important to note that exact change is required as bus drivers do not provide change.

However, don’t worry if you don’t have exact change as Los Angeles Metro has implemented a new system allowing passengers to pay with a TAP card that can be loaded with cash or stored value.

Using Transfers

Transfers are a convenient way to continue your journey without paying an additional fare. When you pay your cash fare, ask the bus driver for a transfer. Transfers are valid for up to two hours and can be used on any local bus or Metro Rail line.

Simply show your transfer to the driver or fare inspector when boarding another bus or entering a Metro Rail station.

Discount Fares

In addition to regular cash fares, Los Angeles Metro offers discounted fares for certain individuals. Seniors aged 62 and older, individuals with disabilities, and students can take advantage of reduced fares.

To qualify for these discounts, eligible passengers must obtain a TAP card and add the appropriate fare product or discount to their card. More information about eligibility and how to apply for discounted fares can be found on the official Los Angeles Metro website.

Understanding how to pay for the bus in Los Angeles is essential for a smooth and hassle-free commute. Whether you choose to pay with cash or opt for a TAP card, you’ll be able to navigate the city with ease.

So next time you hop on a bus in Los Angeles, rest assured that you’ll know exactly how to pay for your ride!

Tips for Riding the Bus in LA

Planning Your Trip

Before hopping on a bus in Los Angeles, it’s essential to plan your trip ahead of time. Check the Metro website for the latest bus schedules and routes. The website provides a user-friendly trip planner that can help you find the best bus routes to reach your destination.

Don’t forget to consider the time of day and potential traffic congestion when planning your journey.

Boarding the Bus

When arriving at the bus stop, make sure to be on time. Buses in LA usually run on schedule, so it’s a good idea to arrive a few minutes early to avoid missing your bus. When the bus approaches, make sure to stand near the curb and signal the driver by raising your hand.

As the bus stops, wait for passengers to get off before boarding. Once on the bus, have your fare ready or use a TAP card for a quicker and more convenient payment method.

Understanding Metro Lines

Los Angeles has an extensive bus network operated by the Los Angeles Metro. To navigate the system effectively, it’s important to understand the different Metro lines and their destinations. The Metro website provides detailed maps and information about each line, including the major stops and transfer points.

Familiarize yourself with the different lines to plan your trips more efficiently and avoid any confusion.

Transit Safety Tips

While riding the bus in LA, it’s essential to prioritize your safety. Always be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings. If possible, sit near the front of the bus, where the driver can easily see you.

Avoid engaging in confrontations or arguments with other passengers and report any suspicious activity to the bus driver or authorities. Remember to follow any safety guidelines provided by the Los Angeles Metro to ensure a safe and pleasant journey.


We hope this guide has provided you with a thorough overview of the different ways to pay your fare when riding the bus in Los Angeles. The Metro bus system can seem complex at first, but with a TAP card and some planning, you’ll be zipping around LA on the bus in no time.

Focus on getting comfortable with the basics – tapping your TAP card, knowing your stop, and being aware of your surroundings. Soon you’ll be a Metro bus expert!

For the latest information on fares, routes, and schedules, be sure to check Metro’s website. And as always, ride safely and respectfully so we can all enjoy the convenience of public transit in our great city. Happy riding!

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts