When thinking about driving in Los Angeles, there is only one thing that comes to mind: traffic.
L.A. Metro and TAP tackle a point of inflection …
O'Hara's comment reflects a dynamic common across many communities, nationwide.
As digital, tweet-happy millennials have redefined what today's generation considers to be fast, high-quality service, organizations have been similarly impacted across all major industries: They must adapt their service models accordingly if they are to stay relevant, while also catering to more traditional transit riders who prefer paper tickets and engagements via email or phone calls — all on the lean, mean budget typical of the public sector. For transit organizations specifically, this is all in the shadow of an industry that has been completely disrupted by ride-sharing business models.
“If we are going to attract people to busways and railways, we need to provide a fast, easy, friendly customer experience for everyone. Those who like to drive, those who have the means to take a Lyft or Uber, those who want greener or more active choices, and those who appreciate the familiarity and accessibility of a traditional transit system. We have to think about equity,” said O'Hara.
O’Hara and her TAP team knew they needed to offer more choices if they were going to retain existing customers and attract new riders, and they needed it to be a one-stop shop: all available on TAP.
L.A. Metro, by the numbers
… and transform the foundation of the system.
TAP is the County's regional transit program that gives riders a single, reusable, reloadable card that works across L.A.'s 25 public transit agencies (of which L.A. Metro is the biggest). It runs on a Cubic system called Nextfare and is read by an RFID-style device on trains, buses, and so on “The TAP cards work really well; they interact in less than half a second with our hardware, and are perfect for the instant access that is needed as millions of people conduct millions of transactions a day when boarding our buses and trains. However, as you can probably imagine, that ‘card + hardware’ experience is difficult to replicate with account-based transportation options like bike sharing or ride sourcing. You can't just add a hardware device to those experiences. We asked Lyft; they told us no,” O'Hara laughed.
As more transit organizations are looking to modernize their services, certain cities are starting from scratch and building entirely new account-based systems. But O’Hara consulted with TAP’s consultant, Mark Kroncke of Invoke Technologies, who recommended not throwing the entire transit system infrastructure out. Rather, he outlined a plan that (1) kept the hardware infrastructure since it was working well, and then (2) added a digital layer, enabling seamless connections between TAP’s wallet function and account-based platforms like Lyft’s. The result: TAPforce — an engagement layer on Salesforce that turns the TAP card into a TAP account, allowing Metro customers to take part in ride-share experiences and more traditional public transit services alike.
- Account-based service: Service Cloud gives TAP a platform that stores data about a customer in a profile-like setting for each TAP user. This gives employees one, central place to review sales history, see an account’s balance, address customer service inquiries, manage cases, and more across both hardware-based transit and account-based transit.
- Enterprise platform services: Publicis.Sapient, Metro’s implementation partner, was brought in to "configure the engagement layer to integrate with third-party systems, like Metro Bike Share, allowing patrons to pay for partnering services with one account,” said Publicis.Sapient’s Chad Kaltenstein. “We also configured it to integrate with TAP’s website so that patrons can register and reload TAP cards online, apply promotion codes, and more — all over desktop or mobile.”
- Marketing and outreach: Marketing Cloud was layered on as a tool to help the team get their messages out in real time, enable opt-in marketing choices and reach their customers via any digital platform. Email Studio automates and executes email outreach based on the same profile datasets. “This has given us a lot of flexibility,” said O'Hara. “For example, if we want to incentivize people onto Bike Share, we can adjust the price in TAPforce in minutes by offering coupon codes or other discounts, and then communicate that out, drawing people into new forms of transportation that they might not have tried before.”
- Data and insights: Einstein Analytics gives TAP integrated reports and dashboards, which pull datasets from different systems — discount groups, third-party systems, payment methods, social platforms, and more — into a single view. Clickable, web-style interfaces allow users to click into details or roll up to summary views, giving staff the tools they need to analyze results, surface trends, pinpoint key events, and apply learnings to future activity.
Instead of building a single-purpose solution, the TAP team deployed a strategic platform. With a keen understanding of their customer profiles and innovative thinking, the team “used the cloud to transform a card-based system into a hybrid, account-based system that keeps all the legacy benefits while adding new flexibility for growth,” said O'Hara.