Transportation headlines, Monday, May 6

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

For Los Angeles, the end of the free subway ride (New York Times) 

The old gray lady catches up with gate-latching at Metro subway stations and offers this intro to the story:

There is a startling new sight at the subway station at Hollywood and Vine these days, set amid the handsome trappings of vintage film projectors and movie paraphernalia: five subway turnstiles.

Their appearance amounts to an acknowledgment of the failure of the rider honor system that Los Angeles embraced when it began constructing its subway system nearly 20 years ago. This might not exactly come as a news flash to anyone who has traveled the subways of New York or the Washington Metro, but a gateless subway entrance is not the most effective way to motivate riders to pay their carriage.

Los Angeles transit officials say that millions of dollars in annual revenues have been lost because of riders who calculated, reasonably enough, that they could ride the subway free with minimal danger of detection, no matter the occasional deputy sheriff demanding to see a fare card and a $250 fine for violators.

“A lot of people — if not the majority of people — are not paying their fare,” said Zev Yaroslavsky, a county supervisor and a member of the board of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “There is no reason for them to pay. The odds of them getting a ticket are slim to none.”

The article goes on to say no one really knows what the fare evasion rate is. One Metro official says that latching of the gates, to begin this summer, will help Metro find out.

L.A. full of road to ruins for cars (L.A. Times) 

The Times offers a very cool map showing the grades for roads throughout the city — as graded by city officials. The gist of it: the city has tried to evenly distribute both good and bad roads across L.A., meaning there’s pothole-ridden despair in both wealthy and low-income areas alike. According to the map — be sure to zoom in for detail — Wilshire Boulevard east of Beverly Hills gets grades ranging from A to F.

Readers and Metro riders: is there any part of Wilshire Boulevard you believe qualifies for an ‘A?’

Time for Big Green to go fossil free (The Nation) 

The nation’s big environmental groups often say they are leading the battle against climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels. But Naomi Klein found that many of the groups have been slow to divest their finances and endowments from Big Oil, meaning they are making money off the very groups they are allegedly fighting. Most troubling, some of the groups were somewhat evasive with their answers. Read this one, folks. A lot of these groups, I believe, do some very valuable work on behalf of the environment — but their investments, I also believe, threaten to undermine the message.

14 replies

  1. Gates are a total waste of taxpayer resources. A lot of places run perfectly fine without gates, look at San Diego, they run fine without gates. Besides, LA has no way near the subway capacity of New York or Washington D.C. What works in those cities will not work here.

    All we’re going to end up doing is spending millions of taxpayer money on installing gates only to recover thousands. An all recurring theme with government running things inefficiently. It’ll take years to make up for the cost. And that’s not including all the cost of maintenance these gates will have to undergo so that it works properly.

  2. The above poster must be an absolute FOOL! At least 10 thousand people ride the metro DAILY and that’s $15,000 a day!!! Even at just 10,000 people/day that’s $5,475,000 a year! I have no doubt that the gates–even if they cost 11 million to install!–will be paid for in barely 2 years!!!

    Get real, crying “TAXPAYER WASTE!” is as old as crying wolf.

  3. Where’s your solid proof that 10,000 people aren’t paying for Metro every day? Majority of the people already have passes anyway so they don’t need to pay another $1.50 to ride the train, it’s already paid for with their monthly pass.

  4. Sick and tired of wasteful spending,

    No, the biggest taxpayer waste was the past 25 years of Metro running it under an honor system and putting too much faith in it that people in LA are honest about paying for their fares. Multiply 25 years of fare evasion under an agency and it amounts to perhaps BILLIONS of money that went uncollected because Metro was run by government bureaucrats and their government labor unions whose main motive was to continually ask for more taxes to cover their financial losses due to their idiocy of not knowing the fundamentals of economics.

    Zev Yaroslavsky was the only Board Superintendent that had the guts to finally put an end to this. Everyone else tried to hide this under the rug or avoided discussion about this altogether. Metro kept evading this question like the plague stating it wasn’t a big deal until Zev squeezed Metro hard enough to stop acting like a bureaucracy and start actually doing their job as taxpayers expected them to do.

    Metro needs to be punished severely for this because they’ve cheated taxpayers for 25 years for not doing their job that they should’ve been doing since day one. I suggest everyone working for Metro get a 25% pay cut for the next 25 years as way to give back to the taxpayers for making us fund a stupid idea like the honor system.

    Locking gates has to become the priority for all Metro Rail stations, not just the Purple and Red Lines. And going forward, all the stations that will be built in the future MUST have locked gates in mind from the START!

  5. The gates have cost at least $150 Million, so they will take a very long time to pay off, if they even ever do.

  6. Erik,

    I say it’s better to spend the $150 million and lock them up now and every station going forward than spending billions in dollars later to lock up the entire system when we’ve expanded and built more stations with millions more people using the system in the future.

  7. Lock the gates and keep the system fair for everyone; its a very simple concept “you ride you pay”.

    • Hi Evan;

      Thanks, but it’s also commonly called Old Gray Lady. I’ll plead guilty to the mis-spelling of ‘grey’ however.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  8. Sadly, most of you remain dillusional that unstaffed stations with waist-high turnstiles will be “secure”. That $150 million could have gone to increased service hours on overcrowded bus routes, but please, enjoy the kabuki theater instead. Remember, the surface light rail stations, which make up the majority of the rail system today, and will make up an even larger majority of the rail system tomorrow, are NEVER going to be able to be gated.

  9. The NYTimes article says that “192 turnstiles at 42 stations will be locked and ready for business by the summer.” There are only 16 stations on the Red and Purple Lines. What other lines/stations will be getting locked turnstiles?

    • Hi Nick;

      Eventually turnstiles installed at some other Metro Rail locations will be locked. But the subway stations will come first.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  10. A Channel 4 Producer spent an hour on the phone with me Monday about the fare evasion issue add in the end confessed to not being sure about all the economic assertions. I have suggested Thomas Rubin who is a whiz at decoding Metro budget numbers assist him. Despite the claims to the contrary Erik is right but gate installation is a fait accompli so why worry despite it being a bad idea? I have bigger fish to fry. Someday someone will finally admit we naysayers were right. Not that we’ll get much satisfaction being vindicated.

  11. Erik,

    And you can continue to believe that some how many transit agencies all over the world who run transit with gates are doing things the wrong way because you’ve never experienced them for yourself first hand.

    Can you explain to me why if gates are bad, why do cities like San Francisco, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, London, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok, Sydney use them? I’m sure these cities know a lot more about public transit than LA. We suck at public transit. It’s better to just do what the cities that get public transit right are doing.

    Sheesh. People with backwards views of the world who don’t like change. You guys are the ones that’s holding up progress in everything!