Transportation headlines, Thursday, May 3

Caltrans I-5 project

Caltrans to add truck lanes to I-5 for Santa Clarita commute (Glendale News-Press)

Good news for those who dread their daily truck-filled commute on the I-5 between L.A. and Santa Clarita. New truck lanes on both the southbound and northbound I-5 will separate heavy big-rig traffic from passenger vehicles and create a quicker, safer ride for commuters. It’s a Caltrans project slated for completion in 2014.

Do honor systems on mass transit work better in smaller cities? (The Atlantic: Cities)

As Metro moves forward on a plan to lock subway gates, “The Atlantic: Cities” ponders the notion that perhaps commuters in smaller cities are more honest about paying that folks in mega-cities. What do you think?

Good news for the Westside: New bike lanes appear on Sepulveda Boulevard (StreetsBlog LA)

And the lanes on Sepulveda will provide a safe connection to the Expo Line for people living south or southwest of the station.

No strangers on the train (Santa Monica Daily Press)

Music, theater and a whole new world of L.A. culture opened up for this writer last weekend, as Expo made it’s debut.

 

15 replies

  1. I think that as metrorail expands and gets higher and higher ridership, all stations (both HRT and LRT) will need to have turnstiles/fare gates due to the sheer amount of people using the stations. There is only so much random checking that can be done and the more crowded the system becomes, the easier it will be to get a free ride and not be checked because of the sheer difficulty of enforcement in crush loads. And at that point any fare inspection would be slow and cumbersome for crowds of people just trying to get where they are going. Basically, the proof of payment system will only work with today’s ridership levels and even that I am starting to doubt for a few reasons.

  2. A city where there are only 10,000 transit riders use mass transit every day with a figure of a 5% fare evasion rate means potentially, 500 riders aren’t paying for their fares. That’s pretty much controllable with random checks by law enforcement, let alone if the area covered by public transit is small.

    A metropolis like Los Angeles where 350,000 transit riders take rail, a 5% fare evasion rate equates to 17,500 freeloaders per day. At that point, it is stretching the capacity of random checks by law enforcement, nor does it make sense to hire more officers to do just fare checks. It’s also becoming impractical as the system expands considering the size of area that LA Metro Rail has to cover.

    Now if it becomes like New York, London, or Tokyo where majority of the people take mass transit everyday, it’s next to impossible to do random fare checks with law enforcement officers. Eventually as more people move to mass transit, especially in a big city like LA, redundant tasks like fare checks do need to get automated to a certain extent to ease the taxpayer’s burden of hiring more law enforcement officers.

  3. Honor system doesn’t work. Every large city with an efficient mass transit system uses a distance based fare + tap in/tap out. Revamp the fare system to calculate distances, and encourage TAP card use by giving a 10% discount.

    Fumbling for coins should be a relic of the past. Look at successful systems in Asia for examples of how fare collection is done.

  4. Steve Hymon on May 1, 2012 at 3:45 PM said:
    Hi there;

    Unfortunately, EZ passes are not available yet on TAP.

    Steve Hymon
    Editor, The Source

  5. Honor system works fine. LA Metro has never disclosed the basis for the various amounts it claims it is losing.

    And the staffing of the stations will cost how much?

    I note with interest that the Expo Line stations didn’t appear to have turnstiles.

  6. @Erik G.

    You lost. Get over it. And where’s your proof that the honor system works? Where’s your proof that people are honest? Where’s your proof that it’s much more cheaper to carpet bomb the entire system with police officers to do just fare checks?

    The way you keep dragging this issue means that you’re no better than the people at Beverly Hills who keep dragging the Subway to the Sea issue with more useless meetings and studies.

    Next up, time to reform the fare system to tap-in/tap-out distance based fares.

  7. The problem is the MILLIONS spent on TAP ought to have been spent on projects instead of the confusing and inadequate and inconvenient (when transferring to muni’s) system really has been a waste and should not have gone forwared until they had nearly every other muni and Metrolink on board for a true seamless experience.

    Let’s not forget that the MTA used to crow at much MORE effective the random checks were and always told us that the it resulted in virtually no loss and created a situation that required security (old MTA police, LAPD, and now Sheriff’s deputies) to would be very visible and that while doing random checks, could spot other problems (I have seen where a random check did indeed remove a “problem” on our trains in the past. Today, MIA, and one has to wonder if that was the motivation for TAP and the change in tune from MTA now citing that fare beaters rule and MTA is losing so much money, had been, from those not paying fare. PLEASE! Which is it, MTA? It sure makes a good reason or justification to hand out MILLIONS to the company re TAP while creating problems for riders for reasons the MTA told us didn’t exist in the first place. Somebody got rich from the TAP contract, and it was NOT the MTA from fare recovery.

  8. “If the honor system worked, then we wouldn’t need cashiers at supermarkets.”

    The whole phrase “honor system” used to describe proof-of-payment is misleading. It is not the honor system. There is enforcement of fares in the proof-of-payment system.

  9. Why bring up the topic of locking gates again? It’s a done deal, let’s move on. And it’s not like locked gates isn’t something new. A lot of cities around the world use it and they work just fine.

    Hopefully locked gates will make LA follow the examples from other cities around the world now and start moving to tap-in/out distance based fares.

    “The whole phrase “honor system” used to describe proof-of-payment is misleading. It is not the honor system. There is enforcement of fares in the proof-of-payment system.”

    Proof-of-payment is just another way of saying honor system, much like catsup and ketchup mean the same thing.

    For example, they use the word “honor system” for the unattended snack bar at Candlewood Suites hotels. But if you’re not honest about taking the box of Lean Cuisine from the cabinet and putting in the amount needed into the money slot, you are stealing goods from what Candlewood Suites sells to their guests. If you get caught, Candlewood Suites has the right to call the cops and they can charge you for theft because you didn’t pay. That is enforcement of paying for goods right there. Honor system, proof of payment, same thing.

  10. “If the honor system worked, then we wouldn’t need cashiers at supermarkets.”

    If cashiers at supermarkets worked we wouldn’t have security cameras and security guards. In fact, after you are done paying your receipt is often checked at the door before you leave (I do not participate in these receipt checks and just walk right on by, but many people do automatically).

    The point is that fare gates will not be 100% effective. The will decrease the fare evasion rate only marginally and it won’t be worth the cost to install and maintain them.

  11. “The point is that fare gates will not be 100% effective. The will decrease the fare evasion rate only marginally and it won’t be worth the cost to install and maintain them. The will decrease the fare evasion rate only marginally and it won’t be worth the cost to install and maintain them.”

    Nothing is 100% effective, but that doesn’t mean it’s an excuse to do nothing. That excuse is like saying everyone is eventually going to die anyway, so let’s not waste millions in researching cures for rare diseases.

    Besides, why do you think supermarkets have a much less rate of people stealing goods from the store? It’s because they have a combination of cashiers, security guards, surveillance cameras, and the walk-thru machine that reads RFID tags. A combination of multiple checks, security in layers if you will, drastically reduces theft from the supermarket. Security cameras alone do not deter thefts. Security guards alone do not deter thefts either. It’s a combination of many things that deters them as it creates multiple hurdles for them to do their deed.

    Will some people slip by without paying despite this? Of course, nothing is 100% perfect. But is it worth it to the supermarket to spend millions each year in staffing cashiers, security guards, maintaining security cameras and the RFID walkthrough machine for the sake of preventing people stealing a from the supermarket?

    For one thing, it’s just like Metro; there’s no way the supermarket can leave checking the thousands of customers to just one security guard nor does it make economic sense to place a security guard at every aisle. The labor cost to man security guards at every aisle will just end up being passed along to the consumers, and obviously no customer is going to pay $20 per box of cereal.

    Nor does it make sense for the supermarket to leave the deterrance of theft with just security cameras either; the security camera just records and cannot do anything else. It doesn’t have some magical facial recognition technology linked to a federal database which automatically feeds the thief’s vital info to a nearby police car with some uber-Hollywood style satellite uplink technology so that the person can be nabbed the moment the thief steps right out of the store.

    Nor does the supermarket believe that they can trust their customers to pay honestly under the honor system either. Whether it be a a stick of gum for 75 cents or a bag of Doritos for $3.99, even though the individual cost maybe small, over a longer period, it amounts to a big loss for the supermarket. And eventually the cost for those losses get back to the consumer in form of higher costs.

    Hence, the supermarket utilizes a combination of all of these to, to create multiple layers of security. They are a cost of doing business.

    Anyhow, the point of locked fare gates is set so there’s no point arguing about it.

  12. “Besides, why do you think supermarkets have a much less rate of people stealing goods from the store?”

    Compared to what? Fare evasion? The measured fare evasion rate is anywhere from 1% to 5%, depending on the line.

    “But is it worth it to the supermarket to spend millions each year in staffing cashiers, security guards, maintaining security cameras and the RFID walkthrough machine for the sake of preventing people stealing a from the supermarket?”

    I don’t know. Is it? That’s for the supermarket to decide. They also have a greater incentive to stop theft because they charge the *full* cost of the products they sell and then a markup. By the way, it was Wal Mart that decided that throwing the book at shoplifters who steal less than $25 of product was not worthwhile.

    The point is, you don’t spend money on theft deterrent schemes that will cost more than the value of theft they are designed to prevent. It simply is not rational. Just because you can beef up security does not mean it’s cost-effective or economical to do so.

    “Nor does it make sense for the supermarket to leave the deterrance of theft with just security cameras either; the security camera just records and cannot do anything else.”

    The fare gate just records transactions and cannot do anything else. These will be unstaffed stations.

    “Nor does the supermarket believe that they can trust their customers to pay honestly under the honor system either. ”

    Actually, experience has shown that most people strive to be honest. When restaurants have done “pay what you want” schemes, they end up raking in more revenue. Fortunately for transit ridership, we have real data, and that data suggests that the vast majority of people, over 90%, are honest and pay the fare. How many dishonest habitual offenders that never get caught do you think there are?

    “Anyhow, the point of locked fare gates is set so there’s no point arguing about it.”

    So stop arguing about it. I, on the other hand, love arguing.

  13. “I, on the other hand, love arguing.”

    No, what you’re doing is beating a dead horse, making you not much different from the Beverly Hills folks who use their excuses to put their point across.

    “Actually, experience has shown that most people strive to be honest.”

    If the world came to the same conclusion based on their data and experience, they would all use the honor system.

    Yet, New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, London, Tokyo, Osaka, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, etc. etc. all cities noted for great mass transit system all utilize fare gates. And I’d rather trust the “experience” of these guys than yours as they’ve been running efficient mass transit systems a lot more than LA.

    “The fare gate just records transactions and cannot do anything else.”

    As I said, security comes in layers. Fare gates alone do not deter fare evasion. Fare gates + security cameras + Metro staff + officers + adding retailers to stations to add more “eyes” do. And this is the solution that is in place in many cities around the world that uses a locked gate system.