Sheriff’s deputies crack down on illegal vending on Blue and Green lines

The following post originally appeared on El Pasajero, Metro’s Spanish-language blog. It has been translated and edited for posting on The Source. The post in Spanish is here.

Sheriff’s deputies increased patrols and surveillance of Blue and Green line trains earlier this month due to persistent complaints from riders about illegal vending of products aboard trains, as well as other violations of the code of conduct by passengers.

“Not only do we prevent the sale of any product, but also other activities that endanger the safety or welfare of passengers or do damage to facilities or Metro vehicles, such as smoking, eating, spitting, profanity, screaming, painting graffiti, scratched windows or seats,” said Capt. Daniel Cruz of the Sheriff’s Department, which patrols Metro Rail.

Cruz stressed that a zero-tolerance policy is being implemented toward anyone caught selling, damaging property or mistreating Metro passengers to ensure that all Metro customers enjoy a comfortable ride. Fines will be applied according to the severity of the offense.

The Sheriff reported that two arrests were made on April 14 of people who had been arrested on prior occasions — including one for selling DVDs.

Cruz said that more deputies will be used to patrol trains and that numerous signs have been installed about rules against selling goods on trains as well as eating, smoking and disturbing other passengers.

Many riders, however, continue to ignore these rules. On the Blue Line recently, a young mother was walking along the platforms of several stations selling boxes of chocolates. Asked if she knew this was illegal, the mother said: “I knew it was bad. I do it because it helps me with my children’s expenses, but I won’t do it anymore.”

Other passengers said that the conduct did not bother them. “I have no problem with people selling, provided it is not harmful things like drugs,” said Cecilio Serrano.

However, Sheriff’s Capt. Cruz, said that sales on trains and buses are prohibited because it is usually people who have no vendor’s license and because it opens the door for other criminal activities. “Besides being illegal competition for established businesses, we do not know if the products they sell may cause damage to your health,” he said. “So it’s best to prohibit this activity and prevent further damage.”

Cruz added that initially the Zero Tolerance Policy will be implemented in the Blue and Green Metro lines and then spread throughout the Metro train system.

46 replies

  1. You know, wouldn’t it be easier to just start letting vendors and companies build kiosks at the train stations than just letting empty space go to waste?

    In the business world, it’s called “introducing a competitor into the marketplace.” You don’t see illegal vendors near Rite Aid or CVS because duh, the legal vendor is right there.

    The competition could be easy as a rental-DVD vending machine or a mini Starbucks kiosk at the train station. You see this all over Japan; licensed kiosk booths selling things from newspapers, gums, drinks, comic books, you name it. It also brings in extra revenue to the transportation agency by renting out that space to such vendors.

    Implement this and you’ll solve two problems: illegal vendors (who can’t compete with licensed vendors in the stations) and the need to hire officers to enforce that illegal vending activities don’t take place. At the same time, you’ll also bring in more revenue through means of renting out the empty space that could otherwise be used to better use.

    Try asking Famima! (a Japanese convenience store BTW) if they’re interested in building a mini-convenience store in side the subway station of 7th/Metro and Western/Vermont. They know how to do it as they have the expertise of making Family Mart stores all over train stations in Japan and Korea.

  2. @Y Fukuzawa: You bring up great points that would make perfect sense IF eating and drinking were actually allowed on the trains.

    I don’t mind illegal vending activity, but I do mind filthy trains. Therefore, I support the continued prohibition of eating and drinking on the metro lines.

    Cracking down on the sale of food items on the trains seems like a useful solution for cleaning up the metro, but greater enforcement of other activities is also needed. The blue line, in particular, gets filthier every time I board.

  3. @Brian

    Keep in mind that people entering the system are eventually going to exit it as well. Eating and drinking can still be against the rules on the train itself – people could simply purchase newspapers, postage stamps, food stuffs, books, flowers, etc. at their destination instead of their departure station. Also, as I understand it you’re allowed to carry food on and off the trains, you’re just not allowed to actually eat it on board (or on station platforms).

    The ample dead space on most subway mezzanine levels could easily be rented out to earn Metro some extra money AND provide passengers with more opportunities. It would make the wait for a train more pleasant – you could browse through a newsstand and then head downstairs when you hear your train arriving.

    Finally, if there are licensed vendors there it provides an extra level of security. They’re going to want to protect both their property and their customers. Eyes on the street works down on the subway too.

  4. I have a complaint on the metro blue line stations. I had my bike stolen even though i had a chain on both ends of the tires. My complain is why isnt there servillance cameras on the bike section. This happen last saturday afternoon on the firestone station and also what annoys me that the people that are asking for the tickets from the riders to re sale them what are you doing about this?

  5. I’ve only noticed this really happening on the times I’ve taken the blue line (I live by Vermont/Sunset on the redline and have never seen it there).

    I have a solution. HAVE TURNTABLE THAT ACTUALLY STOP PEOPLE. I do not understand why we have these free spinning and rely on an honor system. I pay my fair everytime, and I say only about 1 out of every 10 times I’ve ridden I’ve been checked for a ticket. Because of this lack of enforcement, most people don’t believe they need to pay. I have heard so many convos with people saying “yea, dont buy a ticket, its only if you’d like to help” I guess its like a charity then?

    So I think I will stop paying my fair and risk it because honestly, whats the point, theres a 1/10 chance I’ll get caught, so yea, I’m not going to pay my fare until we have working gates. And Metro wonders why there’s a lack of funds?!

    I remember reading a while back the turnstiles would be freestyling for a short period of time to “acclimate users to the turnstiles.” Again, not needed, heres how it should have gone…

    person: I can’t get in!
    sheriff: did you pay your fare and insert your ticket?
    person: ….no?
    sheriff: go get a ticket and insert it.

    When I have ridden the blue and gold lines, I actually see people hop over fences and walk across the tracks and hop on top of the platform. Including some of the vendors.

    So in conclusion, in order to stop illegal vendors, have gates that will stop people who are not planning on riding from entering, it will clean up the trains and also make them safer

    Dear Metro, please hire me as your “senior efficiency consultant.” I’ll even 1099 it!

  6. I’m with Y Fukuzawa on this one.

    Let Famima!! into the subway stations. Or other vendors. Even vending machines. The airport has a Best Buy vending machine.

    Put in a newsstand if you don’t want food. Or DVDs. At the very least, people might buy on their way OUT rather than on the way in.

    But the illegal vendors are ridiculous.

  7. I coulnd’t agree more with Y Fukuzawa when it comes to renting out space to (legal) vendors in stations.

    With regard to eating on transit vehicles, I imagine that rail transit stops could easily include painted lines on the ground paired with text like “no eating or drinking beyond this point.”

  8. All I can say is it’s about time. I operate the blue and can’t stand the filth. Let alone those who sell illegally. Every time I see those who resell tickets I call in and let them know where there are and what there are wearing. But it looked like nothing ever gets done. Lets see if that really changes.

  9. It doesn’t make sense for vendors to be inside most stations. Maybe at Union Station, given the large number of transit options that run through there – if you get off the Metro Red Line and need to wait 30 min to an hour for your Metrolink train, having somewhere to go in the meantime sounds like a good idea.

    For the rest of the stations, the time that a person would spend inside the station (waiting for their connection) is at most 10 to 15 minutes. We don’t need people loitering around the stations any more than they do.

    And people are not going to buy food, put it into their bag and wait until they reach their destination – if it’s right there, they will eat it, regardless of whether or not eating/drinking is allowed. Also, you can exit the station and there are places to buy food around the station (including some street vendors). It may be a bit of a hassle to exit the station and come back in, but at least it is an option.

    People are already littering the trains with food, wrappers, newspapers, sunflower seeds as it is. Do we really need to give them the opportunity to buy such merchandise right there at the train station so they can continue to do so? (I haven’t been to Japan’s train stations, so I don’t know, but in Taipei – there are transit employees who patrol the stations and they will stop people who are eating or drinking. And they don’t even need police officers to enforce these rules!).

  10. Glad to see more deputies just from a security standpoint because the seeming abandonment from prior coverage has left Blue Line a softer target than other lines.

    Totally get the desire to stop the vendors, can’t argue against, but a part of me enjoys the extra atmosphere they provide, a little microcosm of a city on wheels.

    At least I’ll have the memory of the gentleman who bought all of a girl’s candy bars, and handed them out to the folks in the car…

  11. Finally. I haven’t even ridden the Blue Line yet because I have heard so many bad things about it. It’s nice to know that Metro is finally taking some effort to clean up their lines. Metro, you should clean the windows on your trains sometimes. The Red and Purple Line trains are almost useless they are so dirty. Also, come on, get your act together and make the turnstiles work. People already criticize you guys for being incompetent, the fact that you can’t even figure out how to work a simple turnstile system isn’t helping your case.

  12. How about people performing impromptu concerts for money? The exit of physical goods merchants will mean more annoying amateurish a-capela singing, or off-key guitar strummers. At least the vendors can be ignored…

  13. “So I think I will stop paying my fair and risk it because honestly, whats the point, theres a 1/10 chance I’ll get caught, so yea, I’m not going to pay my fare until we have working gates.”

    If there’s a 10% chance that you’ll be caught on any given trip on Metro Rail, and you take the train one way and back 5 days a week, then you’d expect to be caught 4 times per month. At $250 per citation, you’d expect to pay $1,000 per month in fines or perform eight days of community service.

    By all means, stop paying the fare. Metro will either be rolling in dough or the public will appreciate your service.

    “And Metro wonders why there’s a lack of funds?!”

    Fares only contribute about 20-30% of what it costs to operate mass transit in LA County. A far bigger problem is the lack of tax revenue for mass transit.

    “When I have ridden the blue and gold lines, I actually see people hop over fences and walk across the tracks and hop on top of the platform.”

    Why not report them? Quietly use your cell phone or the intercom and inform Metro security. This is also your transit system. Report bad behavior when it is safe to do so.

    “in conclusion, in order to stop illegal vendors, have gates that will stop people who are not planning on riding from entering”

    The fare evasion rate with fare gates is not 0%. You say you observe people jump over fences to get onto platforms. What makes you think the small percentage of people who evade the fare will not jump over turnstiles?

    Also, turnstiles do not necessarily stop illegal vending. Illegal vendors could pay the fare and proceed to sell their wares on the train. Consider it a cost of doing business.

    Fare evasion is not a big problem on Metro Rail. The highest figure I have researched over the years is 8% for the Blue Line on weekends. On weekdays the fare evasion is lower.

    I don’t doubt there are some who don’t believe they should pay the fare. But most people don’t even say a word on the subway and I doubt you’ve spoken to them all. The fare evasion statistics are a better metric for figuring out how many people try to beat the fare and those figures reflect a situation in which the vast majority of riders pay their fare.

    Those who get caught pay a fine or do community service, which should make up for the crime of fare evasion.

  14. >I have a solution.
    >HAVE TURNTABLE THAT ACTUALLY STOP PEOPLE.
    Then Metro will have to discontinue free transfers for all suburban riders using Metrolink. Or they’ll have to put somebody at each and every station to check paper tickets. This whole idea with turnstiles that accept TAP cards only was shortsighted, for sure

  15. Eating on trains is allowed in New York, Montreal, and elsewhere. The trains have to be cleaned anyway – why not allow vending?

    The Sheriff’s were arresting kids for chewing gum when the Blue Line first opened. Really? It’s just kind of weird. People have to eat, they have to drink. These train trips are long. It’s an obvious scenario to sell refreshments.

    If Metro is that broke, why don’t they sell licenses to allow it and use some of the extra money for train cleaning? It’s a win win!

  16. I have contacted the MTA several times by email and never received any kind of a response. There is a real and ongoing problem with vendors dragging bundles of things like bags of cotton candy, stuffed animals and balloons attached to huge poles onto the MTA buses.

    People get bonked in the head with this garbage, and I witnessed a vendor nearly getting beaten up once after he hit an African-American woman in the face (most likely an accident, it didn’t look intentional) with one of the bundles he had attached to his pole. Then he refused to apologize when the woman demanded this from him, and I *heard* him say something racially insulting in Spanish.

    It was only the intervention of another passenger that kept this incident from turning into a brawl. One of these days, there is going to be an irate confrontation between these vendors and irate passengers.

  17. I’m also betting that my comment won’t be authorized to be posted here – my comments never show up on this blog. Ever.

    • Hi Estelina;

      I’m unaware, nor could I find, of any of your previous comments that have not been posted or inadvertently sent to the spam basket.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  18. I would like to address a few issues here:
    1. Fare Evasion: It’s wrong and it’s stealing!!!
    2. Illegal Vending: No More!
    3. Destruction of Property/ Vandalism: Make the perpetrator cleanup damage, do community svc., and restitution!
    4. Rigorous Enforcement and
    5. Do the crime, Do the Time- Enough is Enough!

  19. “One of these days, there is going to be an irate confrontation between these vendors and irate passengers.”

    While Metro should enforce its no vendor policy (and they are), it is up to passengers not to escalate the situation into violence.

    I agree that Metro has to do something about the vendors. But I find it weird when you say things like, “A man accidentally bonked another woman on the head. The woman got angry. That man said something racist.

    Metro must do something!”

    Implying wrongly that Metro has anything to do with these people bickering.

  20. With regards to filth, just start a PR program at all train, buses, and stations. It can be as simple as “Clean buses and trains keeps fares low.” You hit people where it hurts – the wallet, and you’ll immediately see drastic changes.

    Once everyone clicks into their mind that cleaning up the buses and trains costs money that starts affecting everyone through higher fares, they’ll become more socially responsible to take their own garbage with them instead of chucking it on the floor.

    If that doesn’t solve the problem, jack up the fare and introduce distance based fares. You now have an “I told you so” moment, which then everyone would realize that it’s serious stuff. Then if someone still doesn’t comply, you immediately get the help of other passengers scolding and shaming that violator as that perpetrator’s actions involve everyone riding the bus and train.

    This is much more cost effective than hiring dozens of officers patrolling every train and bus to make sure they don’t litter the system. Besides, LEOs can’t be there everywhere all the time 24/7. Start thinking of ways to change the system instead of a black-and-white approach to “oh, let’s just tax everyone more so we can add more police officers at every station.”

    Sheesh, hasn’t anyone at Metro ever talked to transit officials in Japan? This is all common knowledge to anyone who has lived in Japan and who has seen their transit system being built up.

    I’ll say it again: Tokyo didn’t wake up one day to find itself to be a model transit oriented city. They spent years and decades refining everything so they all run smooth, to the precision of a Swiss clock, making it a pure business model that rely on less tax dependency, while keeping everything clean and organized.

    Just ask Japan! Is that so hard to do? Or is it the pride of Metro that they can figure it out themselves (which I’m sorry to say, ain’t working).

  21. Another additional beneift to adding mini Starbucks, vending machines, and Famimas at train stations: those would be the ideal places to sell and re-charge TAP cards and even accept payments with TAP.

    Why waste precious tax money for Metro to sell TAP when vendors directly at the train stations can sell them on Metro’s behalf while at the same time earning revenue from rental space? Train stations are prime real estate for businesses and legal vendors: they don’t have to advertise nothing, the customers are all already there going in and out of the station by the thousands per day. There’s serious money to be made here if Metro could just rent out those empty spaces to retail tenants.

    Start a pilot program with Famima or something. Give them an year’s worth of rent for free to test out how it goes. Once they see Famima making huge successes, you’ll bring in lots of businesses drooling to pay top dollar for retail space at the train stations.

  22. How can we guage fare evasion accurately? The sheriffs HARDLY EVER check for tickets. I ride the red line every week day and I rarely encounter the sheriffs. So for that 1 time a day they check, they happen to have 100% paid fare, how many times does that happen? Well if they don’t check all the time, then probably many times. But what if the other 99% of the rides they never check are filled with fare evaders. I want to know how often the sheriffs check for real, if they check more than once every few hours, then I’ll support the figures more.

    I agree Spokker it is my transit system and sometimes I feel, as an ethical user, angered that people are scamming it and I see metro do very little.

    When they installed the system a few years ago, I thought free-spinning was ridiculous “..will be set to “free spin” until patrons become familiar with entering stations through a physical barrier.” (source: http://www.metro.net/news/simple_pr/metro-installing-turnstile/)

    Anyone with half a brain can figure out turnstiles.

  23. Another way to keep stations and transit clean; replace those one-size fits all type of trash bins with those multiple ones that separate between aluminium cans, plastic bottles, and all other trash.

    Just having one sized fits all trash bins is wasteful. People are more inclined to separate their trash into recyclable if you have those multiple type trash bins.
    Plus, it’s another way for Metro to gain extra-revenue from passengers’ trash: you now get to collect the recycling money from all the aluminium cans and plastic bottles that people just throw out, and it saves time in separating them because it’s already pre-sorted.

    You already have thousands of passengers going in and out everyday, use that to your advantage by making money off of recyclables that they throw out.

  24. Another benefit of bringing in businesses into train stations?

    The business owners and employees themselves are there all the time to act as a psychological security guards to perpetrators. Criminal activity occurs when there’s no one there looking out for illegal activity all the time. But businesses owners and employees directly at train stations are always there. Just adding businesses directly at train stations dramatically increases the security of an otherwise desolate cold empty space.

    Just ask yourself: would you feel safer in a dark cold empty train station, or a train station where there’s tons of activity going around with a mini-Starbucks and a Famima right there with business owners and employees there working there all the time, selling stuff like lotto tickets, cash registers ringing up cash registers, showing live local TV, all legally?

    See, you don’t have to hire more officers, the business owners and employees can act as psychological relief for transit riders just by being there. Plus instead of wasting taxes, Metro earns revenue from renting out that place. It’s a win-win situation; let businesses into the train stations. There’s more positive effects than negatives ones in doing so.

  25. Y Fukuzawa just hit all the nails here.

    I mean seriously, it doesn’t take an Einstein to ask why there’s so much illegal vending activity going on. Because there’s demand for it! Just as Y Fukuzawa said, it’s easy business where one needs no advertisement costs because the customers are all right there using transit everyday.

    So what’s the obvious answer? Where there’s demand, then bring it to them by legal and revenue earning ways. Bring in businesses into those places and kill off the illegal activity. Make extra revenue by renting out the place to businesses and retailers. Use them as third-party vendors to sell, re-charge, and accept TAP as payment. Bringing in businesses into train stations makes the place more safer.

    Adding businesses to train stations can act as a catalyst to fare and turnstile jumpers too. Build a Starbucks right near the fare gates and those who fare jump will think twice as they see all the activity going around and the business owner keeping an eye on illegal activity. Chances are high that officers on duty will be right there at that mini-Starbucks too.

    Furthermore, fare jumpers tend to be repeat offenders so business owners and employees working at the train stations are better to pick out the perpetrator again and again and report their repeat offences to officers. A mini-Starbucks barista can say “ya know David (name of officer on duty), there’s this guy who always comes in around 5PM who fare jumps all the time. He once bought a latte here using his debit card so I know his name too. I can point him out when he comes around today and I’ll be glad to serve as a witness – he’s even on our security camera.”

    And guess what, it costs nothing to Metro for this level of socially interactive security.

    Gained psychological security, reducing fare evasion, killing off illegal vendors, earning extra revenue, I don’t see any con for having businesses at train stations.

  26. I agree with having businesses at train stations. I use the Green Line Crenshaw station all the time and while there are businesses near there, it would make it much more pleasant if there was like a Quiznos or a CVS Pharmacy right underneath the freeway there instead of a ten minute walk to the nearest one.

    Can’t you just drill a huge hole in the wall under the freeway overpass there to insert a CVS Pharmacy and Quiznos there instead? It’ll make that place much more pleasant and cleaner than the dark, damped alley atmosphere as it is today.

    Same with my other stop: Aviation/LAX. There’s nothing there except a hot dog vendor. I would love to have a McDonalds or Starbucks there so I can buy a Egg McMuffin or a cup of latte before heading off to LAX for work.

  27. “angered that people are scamming it and I see metro do very little.”

    You say that you are angered that people are scamming the system, but how do you know? Are you checking more tickets than the Sheriff?

    Even if 50% of riders were trying to beat the fare, how could you possibly know? People buy a day pass or a monthly pass and aren’t always going to the ticket machines. People still have paper passes and don’t have to tap. I transfer using Metrolink, so I walk right through without tapping anything.

    You can’t possibly know how high fare evasion is on your own. Even the figures Metro used to try to justify fare gates shows a low amount of fare evasion.

    It is actually better to write tickets for fare evasion than to make riders pay. The fare does not pay for the full cost of providing transit.

  28. Good gawd, fare evasion is becoming the Godwin’s Law of Transit Nerds. Enough already….

    1) Crack down on illegal vendors. Allow legal vendors. If that means selling vendor licenses to the guys who sell candy bars on the trains, fine.

    2) But I’d rather see more Famima!! Let Famima!! be an extra set of eyes in the stations; they will have a vested interest in keeping the stations safe.

    3) Let Famima!! sell TAP cards and TAP upgrades. FamilyMart in Japan even accepts SUICA as payment. TAP is finally starting to look like a real smart card, it’s high time that Metro riders learn to own and use TAP. Famima!! can be part of that process.

    * I like Famima!!, but the same would be true of any convenience store. Famima!! seems like a natural because of the SUICA/ FamilyMart link.

  29. @Spokker

    At whose expense? Manning police officers at every station isn’t free you know. Times that every year and it’s just not cost effective.

    It makes more sense to just install machines that does that job for them. It works everywhere else, why can’t we just lock those gates?

    And with regards to your argument that fares don’t pay the full cost of transit, well no transit agency does. But it’s possible to reduce tax payer burden as much as possible by making efficient changes like fare gates which reduces the need to staff so many officers and going to a distance based model like all the other successful transportation systems around the world.

    What you’re touting is a socialist utopia where you want it all for cheap and just keep on taxing everybody until it gets sucked dry.

  30. I would rather have illegal vendors with product that directly benefits the vendor rather than some corporation like Quizno’s or Starbucks.

    Local vendors bring local flavor and color and would uphold what is unique about our great city and county. Just as corporate vendors are the same in most every airport in every city, we would have vendors like many cities already have in their transit system:

    “Wow welcome to the Wilshire/Vermont station, it’s just like that station we used in Chicago with the Starbucks and Quizno’s.”

    (Don’t get me started on the so-called turnstiles boondoggle that the MTA wasted precious million$ on–while shutting down bus lines–without first seeking consensus from the other players needing to partake in the system (Metrolink, Big Blue Bus, etc.). Plus, think about it, if you were the Big Blue Bus, would you trust the MTA with paying you for the fares owed you due to the TAP system that they control?!!).

  31. “At whose expense? Manning police officers at every station isn’t free you know.”

    I never advocated staffing police officers at every station to check tickets. I advocate for the proof of payment system that has been practiced on Metro Rail and Metrolink for over a decade.

    “But it’s possible to reduce tax payer burden as much as possible by making efficient changes like fare gates which reduces the need to staff so many officers”

    Sworn police officers checking tickets creates a double benefit. Not only are they checking tickets but they are equipped and train to handle a wide variety of situations. Fare gates may provide some protection from those who wish to beat the fare, but they will not come to your aid if you are attacked. A strong police presence will be required with or without fare gates, and I would not accept reducing the amount of officers in the system just because there are fare gates.

    That fare gates decrease the burden on taxpayers is suspect. Former Metrolink CEO Richard Stanger drafted a letter pointing out that the fare gates will cost more to install and maintain than the amount they will recover from fare evaders. You may find his letter archived here: http://www.thetransitcoalition.us/largepdffiles/TC-Metro-2008-01-31-01a-FaregatingAnalysisReport-RichardStanger.pdf

    “What you’re touting is a socialist utopia where you want it all for cheap and just keep on taxing everybody until it gets sucked dry.”

    Be careful not to assume that because a person holds one position that they automatically advocate for another. I support raising fares as well as raising tax revenue for mass transit. I don’t believe that transit should be forced to maintain a 100% farebox recovery ratio, but I do think it should be higher than the woefully low farebox recovery ratios we see today.

  32. The socialist comment is quite ironic, I must add. I do not support public transit because I care about the environment. I do not support transit because my heart is bleeding for poor non-white transit dependent riders. I do not support transit because I have touchy feely ideas about “livability” and transit orientated development. Though those are all fine reasons to support transit, that’s not why I’m here.

    I support transit because it is an integral component of our capitalist society. It facilitates the growth of commerce. From the lowliest bus route to the mightiest high speed rail corridor, transit supports workers and consumers doing what they do best, working and consuming.

    Friend, the largest beneficiaries of transit by far are big corporations like McDonald’s and Walmart, because without the bus, they might actually have to pay their employees a living wage.

    Viva la capitalism, indeed.

  33. @ Jack:
    “The sheriffs HARDLY EVER check for tickets. I ride the red line every week day and I rarely encounter the sheriffs.”

    You must be new to Metro Rail. LASD is always strategically placed at Imperial Station daily. In fact, they have a sub-station there. I understand what you’re saying though, but, the reality is they tend to target “certain areas” and “certain people” more than others. So, you’re not as likely to see them bothering tourists in Hollywood or the Starbucks crowd in South Pasadena as much as folks in, say, Compton or Long Beach.

    I used to live literally right above Memorial Park station in Pasadena, rode the Gold Line daily and rarely saw them there or anyplace else along the line except for Union Station. Yet, there’s never a shortage of them (or their white-shirted Metro underlings) trolling the Blue Line, usually at either Rosa Parks, Willow or Transit Mall.

    I’m sure there are plenty of people just like you who complain that there aren’t enough cops around to make them feel safe from the unwashed masses. But, for just as many who, contrary to stereotypes, prefer to mind their own business and are merely trying to just go about their daily routine without being either hassled or watched under suspicion by someone who knows they can get away with it because they wear a badge, it’s an entirely different situation to the point of ad nauseam.

    Consider yourself fortunate.

  34. @Spokker

    ” I advocate for the proof of payment system…”

    Proof of payment is just a euphemism for an honor system, which does not work when transit riders increase to a certain level. Can you imagine what New York or London would be like if they went to a “proof of payment” system? When it’s 10% of 100 riders per month, then it’s only ten people. When it becomes to a level of 10% of 4 MILLION people per month, that comes to 400 THOUSAND evaders, much more than just ten people. Percentages can remain static, but the number of evaders rises to a point where it’s impossible to do just by hiring more officers.

    “Sworn police officers checking tickets creates a double benefit. Not only are they checking tickets but they are equipped and train to handle a wide variety of situations.”

    And yet, officers cannot handle more than one thing going on at once either. He could be writing a ticket for fare evasion when there’s a mugging going on on the other end of the platform. He can’t be at two places at once.

    So what, we add two officers? Then what if there’s a fare evasion, mugging, and illegal vending activity going on? So what we staff three officers at every station?

    See, it gets to become inefficient. If a machine can handle a redundant task like checking fares, you install fare gates. Let machines handle such a minute task so that officers can focus on real issues like patroling the area against drug dealers or sort. Why do you think we have red light cameras being installed all over town? So officers can focus on real issues like murder and violent crime than writing a ticket for going through a red light which a machine can do 24/7.

    Imagine what Tokyo would be like if they didn’t rely on fare gates and just police officers checking the massive transit users in that metropolis. It’ll be hectic nightmare.

    “That fare gates decrease the burden on taxpayers is suspect. Former Metrolink CEO Richard Stanger drafted a letter pointing out that the fare gates will cost more to install and maintain than the amount they will recover from fare evaders.”

    And yet, we see them working perfectly fine in Boston, Chicago, New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Seoul, etc. etc…

    Care to explain the rationale why every other city gets it right while we still scratch our heads how trying to figure it out?

  35. @ M a r c

    “I would rather have illegal vendors with product that directly benefits the vendor rather than some corporation like Quizno’s or Starbucks. Local vendors bring local flavor and color and would uphold what is unique about our great city and county. “

    I highly disagree. Illegal vendors are just that – ILLEGAL. They are a nuisance who annoy other passengers and do not pay into taxes or put in any source of revenue to the mass transit system.

    Furthermore, what you describe as “local flavor and color” is basically just re-hashed stuff that’s sold at any other local store which in turn is some cheaply made product from China anyway. But those illegal vendors just buy stuff like Hershey’s chocolate by the bulk at any CVS Pharmacy and tout them for an inflated price.

    Considering that, I’d rather have a mini-CVS Pharmacy at the train station itself, which would create more jobs, actually stimulate the economy, in which that business brings in revenue through sales taxes and revenue to Metro via rent.

    Now if it were like homemade sweets or Made in Los Angeles local pomegranate flavors lychees then it’d be a different story. But then, it should be sold through legal and proper means by getting a vendor license and opening up your own store or negotiating with legal retail vendors at those train stations to sell your stuff on your behalf. I’m sure if a Famima!! Store was opened inside 7th/Metro, something could be negotiated to sell homemade cookies there as with the other better foods that they sell there from local sources.

  36. Mr. Fukuzawa,

    Please stop comparing Southern California and U.S. society to Japanese society. They are dramatically different cultures and just because something works in Japan, it does not mean it will work in the U.S. or So. Cal. This is not to say either is better than the other, they are just dramatically different.

    As far as vending/vendors in the individual red line stations goes there are a miriad of issues people are not aware of:

    1) Fire Codes: These stations are build to meet the requirements of a specific ‘occupancy type’ as defined by the National Fire Protection Association and the applicable fire codes. Changing the occupancy and modifying the stations to allow power, plumbing and other utilities needed by vendor kiosks would likely change the occupancy type and potentially change the fire code requirements.

    2) Vendors on public property would need to go through a public request for proposal process that would result in a contract with the public agency. Metro would have to establish a criteria for the vendors, conduct a competitive process to choose the winning proposers, sign contracts, monitor those contracts and the vendors compliance with the contracts, appropriate regulations and laws and collect some percentage of the vendors income to pay for Metro’s expenses.

    In the long run, I don’t see this type of activity doing anything but costing Metro more money, which is why it will not happen.

  37. @Ralph

    First of all, that’s a Miss not a Mister. Please don’t jump to conclusions about my gender.

    Number two, pulling the “oh we can’t do that because it’s a different culture” phrase is nothing more than a lame excuse to not getting anything done. At least I provided a common sense approach to let vendors into the stations which is supported by many here. What have you come up with?

    Same as my advocacy for going towards a distance based system “waaaaah, it’s so hard to do, let’s just keep it $1.50 and ask for more tax increases because it’s soooo much easier.” Give me a break.

    Laziness is not an excuse in the business world: you don’t get rewarded for not getting anything done and constantly saying “gimme more [tax] money, gimme more [tax] money.” Businesses are run for a profit, going after efficiency, and making common sense choices. Yet, this city’s public transit wonders why they continuously run in the red and constantly complain about lack of funding.

    This plague of “it’s so hard to do so let’s just tax everybody” got into this mess in the first place. What good has this idea has done so far? Fares are now raised to $1.50, we have cuts in service, we have rampant fare evasion, illegal vendors annoying riders, filthy trains, unlocked gates, a TAP system that doesn’t work as it’s supposed to, and not even a rail to the airport. Well, clearly I don’t see the “culture” working here in LA, do I?

    There’s nothing “culturally different” between US and Japan in regards to public transit, moreover, public transit is nothing more different than running an efficient business. They have the expertise and the knowledge how to run it like a business with less tax dependency and making common sense choices that makes sense. Clearly I do not see that happening here with constant whining of lack of funds, cutting back service, still going “duh” over how to lock the fare gates, and pondering what to do about illegal vendors.

    If LA wants itself to become a transit oriented city, stop the tax waste and just model after Japan. It’s far easier to do that trying to reinvent the wheel only to come up with the same result decades later after spending billions in wasted taxpayer money (Oops, I think we need to install fare gates now. Oops, never thought about illegal vendors maybe we should’ve built train stations with retail space in mind). In the end, it comes back to the same result anyway, why waste tax money when the answer is the same? No matter what LA Metro tries to do, they aren’t gonna come up with a new answer to 1+1. Japan already figured out 1+1=2, why spend billions to find if 1+1=3 when you’re just going to come back decades later and say “oops, Japan was right, 1+1=2. My bad for wasting billions in tax payer money.”

    Again, let me make myself clear: Tokyo did not wake up one day to find itself to be a model transit oriented city. If LA is having trouble figuring something out, most likely Tokyo went through the same problem decades ago and found a solution to them.

    So, what’s so hard in just asking the Japanese for advice? Pride?

    • Hi there;

      I would kindly like to ask readers to keep their comments brief out of respect for casual readers of The Source who may be interested in your viewpoints but may not be interested in reading hundreds of words to learn them.

      Thank you,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  38. Not to get too far off topic and keeping the comment simple and quick. It seems to me that switching fare models is alot harder politically in this country than people give it credit for. How else can you explain why BART and Washington DC Metro operate on distance based fares while NY Metro still operates on a flat fare with a more comprehensive system.

  39. @Fakename70

    I can assure you I am not new to Metro. I’ve ridden it for about 3 years now ever since I’ve moved to LA. I’ve taken the red line every weekday from Vermont/Sunset to Union Station. When I was substitute teaching, I regularly rode the blue line to Florence Station, (my schools were typically in the area) and I used to ride the green line about once a month to go turn in paperwork near LAX.

    “I’m sure there are plenty of people just like you who complain that there aren’t enough cops around to make them feel safe from the unwashed masses.”

    Uh, if I didn’t want to be around the “unwashed masses” I would drive. I choose to go metro because I like trains and I believe that Southern California cannot grow out anymore. When I see some derelict man yelling obscenities directed at all the women in the car and trying to punch someone, then yea I want to know if he’s freeloading the system, and if he is and endangering someone, I want him out, same thing for someone who did buy a tickets who breaks the rules.

    And asking for tickets isn’t hassling someone. Hassling is when the sheriff starts berating or demeaning a citizen. asking “tickets please” is not hassling, that’s procedure. If the sheriff verbally assaults or hurts a patron, then I will join you and demand disciplinary action.

  40. Fakename, the Blue Line not only has more riders than the Gold Line but also more fare evasion. It makes sense that tickets are checked more often at that line.

  41. well let address some issue
    first thing is the turn sytels
    they are not locked because
    there are passenger who use a transfer
    from another bus company, also
    lot of access riders also use metro
    and their ID cards is not tab able for
    also metrolink tickets and pass are also honor as caild fare
    =====================================
    as for vending it could a way for theft
    suppose someonne would would but somethi
    that person is going to have to reach into theit pocket reveling which pocket they keep their wallet