Mayor calls for working group to advance gate locking in subway stations

A Metro staff report on the plan to lock gates in subway stations beginning this summer was briefly discussed by the Board of Directors’ Executive Management committee on Thursday morning.

The gist of it: two of the Board Members on the committee — Board Chair Antonio Villaraigosa and Director Richard Katz — expressed concern over the cost and time involved in finally locking the gates, in particular the possible need for additional staff to help patrons get through the gates.

“After all the money, effort and time and discussion, it’s just not acceptable,” Villaraigosa said at the meeting. The Mayor called for a working group to be formed to figure out how to accelerate gate locking and conversion of fare media to TAP.

The issue of the timeline to lock the gates will likely come back to the Board in June.

The following is the latest Metro staff report on the issue. Here is a pdf version for download.

Gate Locking report

 

16 replies

  1. In Boston, we had great success in moving a lot of our riders to the Charlie Card by providing incentives like slightly cheaper fares for those that use the Charlie Card over paper passes. It’s a win-win, MBTA saves money in printing and issuing paper passes, in return, the savings get passed along to the Charlie Card rider in the form of slightly cheaper fares.

    You can’t just expect people to move and try out new things without some incentive. Why do you think lots of people use debit and credit cards these days over cash? Because debit and credit cards has incentives like cash back, frequent flyer miles, and rewards points.

    Metro on the other hand, there’s really no incentive to get a TAP card. It’s not like it’s cheaper than paying cash with wrinkly old bills and coins. And, you actually have to pay $2 for a new TAP card every three years since the TAP card expires. Since there’s no incentive and with renewing TAP cards is a hassle, people will just stick to using cash.

  2. What? Tap cards expire? what’s the point of that? why not make them last as long as possible? that way it reduces waste. you’d also avoid angry customers who lose their money on expired cards.

  3. Boston’s stations have always had attendants (token clerks). Los Angeles Metro stations are not staffed and this report demonstrates that LACMTA has not been honest about what the cost of staffing all stations and all turnstile “banks” will be for the entire service day. Indeed LACMTA has not ever clarified how much fare evasion there is on a per capita basis; only on a dollar amount which is not based on actual fares. Nor has LACMTA ever broken this down line-by-line. The Subway (Red/Purple Lines) accounts for how much fare evasion please?

    In addition, we now learn that LACMTA will be losing the monies given to it through The California Transportation Development Act because it will be in violation. What will this cost LACMTA? How much will it cost to settle the claims and litigation that will follow after the violation of California State Law by LACMTA?

    The phrase “Sheriff assistants (SAs) will monitor faregates (sic) to ensure patrons with valid fare media may pass through gates(sic)”. appears throughout this document. Has LACMTA factored into the costs of staffing each station the need for comfort stations, break areas and extra coverage during lunch and toilet breaks? Will all stations be staffed fully at the end of the service day when missing the last train due to turnstile issues means being stuck in situ for 4 to 5 hours?

    Finally, in response to the issue to service those covered under the ADA, does LACMTA mean to tell us that the disabled must contact the Rail Operations Control via the telephones in the elevator? And what if the elevator is out of service? How does a person unable to use their hands operate this telephone?

    Are you really sure you want to do this, Metro?

  4. Tony,

    Yes TAP cards do expire and yes, it makes no sense at all because no other agency does this.

    Some of the early adopters of TAP cards have now been facing problems getting their funds transferred over to a new card. Some have been caught off guard at gates and checks because of this.

    In fact, there have been previous discussions right here on The Source about this:

    TAP card caveat: these puppies expire after 3 years
    http://thesource.metro.net/2011/07/14/tap-card-caveat-these-puppies-expire-after-3-years/

    How do they do that? Answer customer queries and complaints
    http://thesource.metro.net/2012/04/09/how-do-they-do-that-answer-customer-queries-and-complaints/#comments

  5. Tony,

    Note how the word “TAP cards are valid for three years” appear over and over again in the document.

  6. Lock the gates and hire station attendants. If it’s too expensive to hire station attendants, move the existing security people from the trains to the stations. I’d rather have people keeping an eye on EVERY station and providing customer service than checking random tickets on (not enough of the) trains.

    If it’s not too expensive to hire new people, that’s great; it’s transit security and a jobs program.

    I really don’t see what the big deal is with gates. Metro Rail is growing, we’re not Phoenix or Houston. Welcome to the big leagues.

    I don’t get why TAP cards expire, but whatever. I just bought my second TAP card from a TVM — I bought my first card from a service center. I suppose that shows TAP has been making progress.
    I look forward to using TAP on the new DASH buses this summer. One of these days I fully expect to see TAP pylons at Metrolink stations and on Blue Blue Buses.

  7. Locking the gates is a good idea, people will still jump over them. TAP is convenient 99.9% of the time, but when its bad its really bad. I’d rather have the gate locked and know that most of the riders are paying riders, than have the cops interupt my peace time. I am also tired of LASD (security) telling me that I have to take my TAP card out of my wallet for their readers, especially when they are standing by the turnstyles and can simply see my card is valid. If I were a stickler, I’d question them since that technically is an unlawful search and seizure when they could simply allow me to TAP on their lousy readers, or just look at the turnstyle. I am glad metro is trying to make progress, lets just see how much progress is made.

  8. “Locking the gates is a good idea, people will still jump over them.”

    Security in layers. Fare gates alone won’t stop fare evasion. Cops alone won’t stop fare evasion. Cameras alone won’t stop fare evasion either. A combination of all these things, however, do wonders.

    In all, it’s just like the airport. Chances of people trying to sneak into the plane or crime happening within the airport terminal area is marginal because you have the TSA guys checking boarding passes, you have a combination of people working at the Starbucks, gift shops, and restaurants within the terminal area, you have law enforcement, and surveillance cameras. All of these layers act as more obstacles for those to seek their illegal activities elsewhere.

    As such, in Asia, one way they reduce the likelihood of that happening is by adding more human eyes in the stations, and said human eyes actually help earn revenue for their agencies. By that meaning, is adding in retailers to the stations. People who work at the retailers inside the stations are always there. They do their part in promoting the safety of their neighborhood station. If a person working at a Starbucks inside the station sees a fare jumper and if he sees that fare jumper do it all the time, he can quickly point that person to law enforcement who is patrolling inside the station, instead of relying on a surveillance camera hooked up 15 miles away in downtown.

  9. As a native Angeleno I have been shocked in the wholesale abandonment of a sane transfer policy. Those taking more than one line or transferring to/from bus /rail are being forced to overpay for a day pass. WMATA and other rail agencies have for years been able to enact a system that is easy to use for native and tourist yet MTA has remained so backwards I feel embarrassed to have to explain it to out of towners who know what organized transportation is like.

  10. Felix,

    Metro has a full monopoly in public transit in LA so they can do whatever they want. No matter how backwards it is, people who rely on Metro has to suck it up.

    If you want real change, we need to bring in a competitor to Metro, one that is a private company that isn’t run with tax dollars.

  11. Steven P, there is no such thing as a private transportation system, because none of them make a net profit and all of them require tax dollars. The streets are the monopoly of the City DOT, as are the sidewalks. Also, all transportation systems are “natural monopolies”; they work terribly if they aren’t monopolies. The history of competing train stations in Victorian London should be enough to prove that.

  12. Nathanael,

    “no such thing as a private transportation system, because none of them make a net profit and all of them require tax dollars.”

    …in America. Across the Pacific, they are efficient, profitable, less reliant on tax dollars, they have farebox recovery ratios of over 100%, and their operation costs are fully sustainable without subsidies.

  13. There is no such thing as a private mass transportation because the City of LA makes it illegal for private companies or potential startups to create a mass transit system of their own.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2005/apr/17/opinion/op-mta17

    There will never be a “Facebook, Google, or Apple for mass transit” in America because of stupid policies like these which hinder private enterprise to provide mass transit service with better ideas and efficiency that competes with the inefficiencies of taxpayer funded public transit.

  14. Nathanael,

    Guess again. In NY they have private “dollar vans” that are profitable, much more efficient, and service better frequencies than NYMTA bus services.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/10/the-illegal-private-bus-system-that-works/246166/

    Better service, better frequencies, and cheaper cost. Only problem was they were illegal due to the NYMTA holding a monopoly on how NYers got around.

    In the end, Mayor Bloomberg realized that some of the services were better off leaving off to private vans like these that they became legal.

  15. I hope Metro (Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority) is going to really set up the TAP only operation on TVM, sell the EZ Pass on TAP from the Tap Card Website, and lock all the fare gates, not just make an announcement about these things.