Gate latching begins this week on the Green Line

The next step to secure gates on the Metro Rail system begins this week at the Green Line’s Crenshaw, Vermont/Athens and Harbor Freeway stations with gates scheduled to be latched Wednesday, April 9. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies are assigned to the stations from 6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. through April 11 to provide advance notice and to assist patrons.

Metro Green Line stations at Redondo Beach, Douglas, El Segundo, Mariposa, Aviation/LAX and Hawthorne/Lennox stations already have gates that are latched. Metro plans to latch the five remaining Green Line Stations by the end of May. When this phase of latching is complete, 41 of 80 Metro Rail stations will be latched and Metro staff are exploring adding gates at some of the remaining stations. 

Gate latching requires passengers to use a TAP card loaded with an appropriate fare to pass through turnstiles at rail stations. TAP helps to strengthen security and fare enforcement and is utilized as fare media on 11 transportation providers including Metro, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation LADOT), Access, Antelope Valley, Culver City, Gardena, Foothill, Norwalk, Montebello, Santa Clarita and Torrance.

Metrolink has its own TAP-enabled tickets that allow Metrolink riders to transfer to Metro Rail at no additional cost. A total of 26 carriers are scheduled to be part of TAP by the end of this year, helping to create a more seamless and regional transit system.

Metro and its transit partners have been rolling out TAP for several years and Metro is monitoring TAP’s progress to determine its impact on fare evasion. The LASD and civilian security personnel provide added security on board trains and buses, as well as at transit facilities and stations. They randomly check patrons on trains and stations using electronic fare checkers to ensure proper payment is made.

  

  

Video and new staff report on combating fare evasion on the Orange Line

Above is a brief and concise reminder from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to remember to tap your TAP card at the validator at Metro Rail and Orange Line stations. Even if a valid fare is loaded. If you don’t and you’re caught, you’ll likely receive a citation, usually for $75

Hey, let’s do the math on this!!!

Citation = $75

Fare = $1.50

$75 minus $1.50 = $73.50

Paying $73.50 more than you need to ride the bus…perhaps not the wisest investment you could make :)

UPDATE: A reader wisely suggested we include some information on why Metro requires riders to TAP. The reason: it prevents abuse of TAP cards, namely from people who load cash or passes on their cars but never actually use the cards — meaning they’re riding for free.

Below is the latest Metro staff report on the issue of increasing fare enforcement along the Orange Line, where two audits on two days this past December found fare evasion rates of 22 percent and 16 percent, respectively. A number of options are listed, including installation of gates, creating ‘virtual’ gates with arrays of TAP validators, more signage and even video surveillance.

Metro Rail gate latching continues this week

Gate latching on the Metro Rail system continues this week as the Mariposa, Aviation and Hawthorne stations on the Green Line are schedule to be latched on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 6 a.m. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies are providing advance notification and patron assistance at the three stations beginning today through Friday, March 7 between the hours of 6 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.

Metro plans to latch the remaining Green Line stations by the end of May. On January 29, the Marine, Douglas and El Segundo Green Line stations were latched. All Metro Red/Purple, Blue and Gold Line stations equipped with gates are now latched. Once all latching is complete, 41 of 80 Metro Rail stations will be latched and turnstiles will not allow entry unless a TAP card with appropriate fare has been tapped at the gate.

TAP is a universal fare media that allows passengers to seamlessly transfer between rail and bus without having to dig into pockets or purses for change. Twelve agencies are currently part of the TAP network including Metro, Metrolink, Los Angeles Department of Transportation (including DASH buses), Access, Antelope Valley, Culver City, Foothill, Gardena, Montebello, Norwalk, Santa Clarita and Torrance.  By the end of 2014, a total of 26 agencies will be part of the TAP network including Long Beach Transit and Santa Monica Big Blue Bus.

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, February 26

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

Nice infographic from Fixr: L.A. has four of the top 10 steepest streets in the country, they say.

Click the image to enlarge
Top 10 US steepest streets
Via fixr structural engineering cost guide

Metro takes aim at Orange Line fare evaders (Daily News)

Coverage of yesterday’s media event as part of an effort to lower fare evasion on the Orange Line. Excerpt:

“LA Metro is one of the best buys around, with one of the lowest fares in North America,” said Art Leahy, chief executive of Metro, at a Tuesday news conference. “But we have to pay the bills … so we need people to pay their fare.”

The two-pronged plan focuses on educating riders on how to pay for their fare through added signs at stations and public service announcements on on-board televisions as well as stepped-up enforcement through hefty $75 citations at each of the 18 stations between North Hollywood and Chatsworth.

The Orange Line is particularly vulnerable to fare evasion because, unlike many underground stations in the Metro system, there are no access gates and money is not collected by drivers when riders board a bus, officials and riders said. Instead, passengers purchase or reload a reusable card at self-service kiosks and then must tap the card at a separate free-standing collection machine that deducts the amount needed for a one-way ride, a process some riders say is confusing.

Bottom line: it’s good to see enforcement stepping up. Running transit is expensive and lost revenue ultimately costs riders the service improvements they would like to see.

Cycling on the edge: dodging cars and potholes (L.A. Times) 

Smart opinion article by Paul Thornton who puts it on the record: many of the bike lanes striped by the city of Los Angeles in recent times are also riddled with potholes. That gives cyclists a not-so-fun choice: slam into a pothole and possibly wreck or veer into adjacent traffic lanes and potentially wreck. The challenge is that another city department — the Bureau of Street Services — are responsible for paving streets. My three cents: a lot of the bike lanes in the city of L.A. were done in a rush in order to reach mileage goals prior to mid-July 2013 — and that means there wasn’t always attention to detail.

A Los Angeles primer: Union Station (KCET)

Nice essay about Union Station includes this paragraph:

For all its timeless appeal and admirably vigorous upkeep, Union Station nevertheless suffers a faint but persistent underlying sense of dereliction, or at least uncleanliness. (Sometimes I visit and feel it has finally gone, but then I enter the restrooms too far between janitorial shifts.) One recently attempted solution to the most visible affliction of this or any public space — that of lingering indigent — involved removing most of the seating and cordoning off the rest for ticketed passengers, a measure desperate enough to signal a potentially unsolvable problem. But do airports do much better? Located so far from their cities’ centers and subject to such complicated entry procedures, most never have to face this sort of challenge in the first place. One trip through LAX, though, makes you realize the great advantage of Union Station and its predecessors across America, no matter how neglected: when you walk out of them, you walk straight into downtown.

I think the station is mostly clean, but I agree the restrooms could see some improvement. The issue there is there are only two sets of them, neither very large for the crowds the station sees. As for “straight into downtown,” well…sort of. It’s more straight into the edge of downtown — one reason I’d love to see more development in the northern part of downtown and especially the Civic Center area.

Also, shout out to post author Colin Marshall for his black-and-white photographs.

Two major transit projects break ground in San Bernardino (San Bernardino Sun) 

One project will extend Metrolink service to the University of Redlands, the other will construct a new transit center in San Bernardino that serves area bus lines and Metrolink. Officials say the projects are badly needed as traffic in the Inland Empire is a complete mess. In other words, officials are now trying to cope with the consequence of all those sprawling housing developments they have approved over the years.

Utah makes Google Glass app for bus riders (Salt Lake City Tribune)

The Utah Transit Authority has made a version of its bus-and-train schedule app that will work with Google Glass, although there are (thankfully) still few people wearing the geekware around. I still have a hard time believing anyone would be so amazingly stupid or addicted to the internet that they would need to have a screen on their glasses and if I have a vote, I say no Metro apps for these folks. They can check their phones like the rest of us!

Metro and LASD target fare evasion on the Orange Line

Sheriff's Deputies are cracking down on fare evasion along the Orange Line. Remember to both load fares on your card and tap the card at the validator before boarding the bus! Photo by Paul Gonzalez/Metro.

Sheriff’s Deputies are cracking down on fare evasion along the Orange Line. Remember to both load fares on your card and tap the card at the validator before boarding the bus! Photo by Paul Gonzalez/Metro.

Here’s the news release from Metro:

To reduce fare evasion on the Orange Line, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) Transit Services Bureau (TSB) have joined in a two-pronged effort to improve communication and enforce laws requiring riders to buy fare and use TAP cards when riding the Metro system.

New signs are being designed for all 18 Metro Orange Line stations directing riders to tap their TAP cards at validators to deduct appropriate fare. Also, Sheriff’s patrols have beefed up on the popular bus line that runs 18 miles between the North Hollywood Red Line subway station and Chatsworth and Woodland Hills. The Orange Line is a bus service that operates on an exclusive busway like a light rail line, therefore, there are no fare boxes on board and passengers must tap fare cards when entering each station. The Orange Line has about 30,000 weekday boardings.

“In recent enforcement audits we found that a majority of our passengers tap their cards and pay the fare when they enter stations, but an alarming number riders were not paying and a surprising number of people appear to be unclear about when and where to tap their fare cards,” said LASD Commander Michael Claus of the TSB. “Our new signs will direct passengers where to tap and we’ve added a new instructional video to Transit TV indicating that failure to tap may result in a citation and fine.”

Metro conducted three audits on the Orange Line in December and February. The first audit on December 3, 2013 at the North Hollywood, Sherman Way and Van Nuys stations found that 22 percent of Orange Line riders evaded the fare by not having a valid TAP card or enough cash balance on the TAP card to ride the bus. In addition, 9 percent of riders with activated TAP cards and a valid pass did not tap before entering, which is considered misuse of the TAP card and not fare evasion. A second audit conducted December 17, 2013 at the North Hollywood, Canoga and Reseda stations found 16 percent of riders evaded fares and 6 percent TAP misuse. A third audit on February 11, 2014 at the North Hollywood, Van Nuys and Canoga stations found 7 percent of riders evaded fares and 5 percent misuse of TAP.

“There is no excuse for breaking the law and trying to ride for free. The Metro Board has authorized many reduced fare programs for seniors, students, persons with disabilities and Medicare recipients,” said Metro CEO Art Leahy. “Metro fares are among the lowest in the United States. Our riders pay only 26 percent of the cost of operating our expanding service leading to a projected budget gap that, if left unaddressed, threatens the quality of service we provide.”

The base fare for Metro buses and Metro Rail is $1.50, but because of the wide availability of reduced fare programs, the average fare paid is 70 cents. Learn more about Metro reduced fares at metro.net/riding/fares/reduced-fares/

TAP is a universal fare system that includes 12 regional and municipal transit carriers in Los Angeles County. By the end of 2014, 26 agencies will be a part of TAP including Long Beach Transit and the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, meaning there will be, for the first time, a seamless regional transit system in which riders can tap to enter and not have to count out change to transfer. In addition to accurate fare recovery, TAP also monitors flow of passengers allowing Metro to tailor service to demand.

Stay informed by following us on The Source and El Pasajero at metro.net, facebook.com/losangelesmetro, twitter.com/metrolosangeles and twitter.com/metroLAalerts and instagram.com/metrolosangeles.

Metro enforcement cuts Orange Line fare evasion

Fare evasion has fallen sharply on the Orange Line since December and beefed up enforcement is credited with a 45 percent increase in the number of riders who pay fares and tap their TAP cards at validators before boarding the bus, according to Metro officials.

Metro conducted three fare enforcement audits on the Orange Line in December and February.

The first — on December 3  at the North Hollywood, Sherman Way and Van Nuys stations — found that 22 percent of Orange Line riders evaded fares by not having a valid TAP card or insufficient cash balance on the card. In addition, nine percent of passengers with an activated TAP card and a valid pass did not tap before entering, which is considered misuse of TAP and not fare evasion. As a result, 445 citations were issued that day.

A second audit was held on Dec. 17 at the North Hollywood, Canoga and Reseda stations. On that day, 16 percent of riders evaded fares and six percent of riders misused their TAP cards and 421 citations written.

A third audit was held February 11 at the North Hollywood, Van Nuys and Canoga stations. On that day, there was a seven percent rate of fare evasion and five percent misuse rate, resulting in 310 citations being issued.

The audits found that some passengers are still unclear about where and when to tap their fare cards. As a result, Metro is developing new posters and signs along with audio and electronic announcements explaining how to use TAP cards. A 30-second, instructional public service announcement about TAP cards is also being made and will be played on Transit TV on Metro buses.

There are about 26,000 boardings on the Orange Line on an average weekday. The Orange Line runs for 18 miles between North Hollywood, Warner Center and the Chatsworth Metrolink station.

Transportation headlines, Friday, February 7

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

Trial by fire for Metro’s new top cop (ZevWeb)

Interesting profile of Michael Claus, the new commander of the Sheriff’s Department unit that patrols Metro buses, trains and facilities under an annual contract. Both Claus and Metro officials say the system is safe despite the recent murder on the Red Line, but perhaps the most intriguing part of the article concerns fare evasion:

Both Claus and Metro’s Martin are seeking to improve fare enforcement, a major priority for the agency. Currently, deputies are responsible for making sure that people pay their fares and for issuing citations to violators. But Claus believes that sworn deputies’ skills are better used elsewhere.

“From what I’ve seen so far, I think it’s a waste of a resource for a deputy sheriff to check TAP cards,” Claus said. “Deputy sheriffs should be performing law enforcement functions, not revenue functions.” He added that it’s tough to recruit good people because trained police don’t want to spend their days checking cards.

Claus envisions using Metro employees and security assistants to check fares instead, while deputies patrol for safety—a quick call away if a conflict arises. Martin agrees. “When they are on a train and they have both hands checking tickets, they aren’t looking for quality of life issues,” Martin said. With each sworn deputy costing the agency about $210,000 per year and civilian employees costing about a quarter of that amount, “you want to get the best bang for your buck.”

First time I’ve heard this discussion publicly. I’m not really sure personally I care who does fare enforcement — like many others I just want to see it done well and thoroughly. If you subscribe to the broken windows theory of law enforcement, you probably also believe that cracking down on fare evasion also would help prevent other types of crime.

Trolley-train hybrid tackles city streets then speeds to suburbs (Wired) 

The train in Sheffield in the United Kingdom can run on both commuter rail tracks and then switch to light rail tracks to take people into and out of the city core. The big benefit: it eliminates the need to transfer between light rail and commuter rail.

Sochi by rail seemed like a good idea (Toronto Star)

A first person account of the 26-hour journey by ‘express’ train between Moscow and Sochi. The express train cut four hours off the previous 30-hour trip! One fun tidbit: it cost $32 U.S. to have a porter carry a couple of suitcases from the station to the train platform but not actually on the train.

If you haven’t seen the @SochiProblems Twitter feed yet, it’s worth checking out with the usual caveat it’s heavy on bathroom humor and some adult language. And if you haven’t yet read the New York Times’ story on the poisoning of stray dogs in Sochi by local authorities and a billionaires’ attempt to save them, here’s the link.

I love the Olympics, but I’m not sure I understand the craziness of having cities around the world spend billions to host them and then later find they can’t really afford them. I tend to think it would be better to rotate the Games between cities that already have infrastructure in place and perhaps occasionally add a new city. This is one reason I’d love to see Los Angeles host a future Olympics; a lot of the facilities are already here.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, January 30

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison!

ART OF DROUGHT: The Badger Pass ski area in Yosemite National Park as seen on a park webcam this morning. Snow may be on the way for the park today but the photo shows how little of the white stuff there has been to date.

ART OF DROUGHT: The Badger Pass ski area in Yosemite National Park as seen on a park webcam this morning. Snow may be on the way for the park today but the photo shows how little of the white stuff there has been to date.

Are people really going to take the train to LAX? (LA Weekly) 

Reporter Gene Maddeus takes a skeptical look at ongoing studies to connect Los Angeles International Airport to Metro Rail via a people mover. He focuses on two concerns: 1) the Crenshaw/LAX Line doesn’t serve the areas where many airport passengers are coming from to reach the airport, and; 2) therefore the trip to the airport from places such as downtown L.A., Santa Monica, Hollywood, etc., will involve many time-munching transfers.

Example: Maddeus points out it would take 38 minutes via transit to get from 7th/Metro to Aviation/Century, according to Metro. Can’t argue with him about that: it took me 24 minutes on the Expo Line last week to travel between Expo/Crenshaw and 7th/Metro thanks to many red lights courtesy of the city of Los Angeles.

The conclusion to his story:

By now, it should be clear that the Crenshaw Line was not designed with LAX passengers in mind. Instead, it was designed for people who live along Crenshaw and currently take the bus. (Crenshaw is the second-most-trafficked bus corridor in the city, after Wilshire.) Adding an airport connection will not change that fundamental fact.

Jose Ubaldo, the MTA spokesman, said that the agency is considering express service on the Crenshaw Line for LAX passengers. Good idea. Let’s hear more about that. However, if it requires design changes it may already be too late, seeing as MTA just broke ground on the Crenshaw Line.

Bottom line: Everybody wants to be able to take the train to the airport. That would be tremendously convenient, if done correctly. But don’t count on MTA and LAWA to do it correctly. In the real world, the convenient system that everybody is imagining may not be what we end up with.

I think this was a good article with a journalist asking smart questions. I would, however, like to add a couple of points to consider:

•Will the masses abandon their cars to get to LAX via train? Probably not — as evidenced at other airports in the U.S. served by trains. But LAX also serves more than 63 million passengers a year and is also a major employment center. Given traffic in the area, having a transit option for even a small percentage of passengers seems worthwhile — and at LAX, a small percentage could still be a significant number of passengers each year. Here’s the employment density map from the project’s environmental studies:

1.0_Purpose_and_Need

•The 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Line that is now under construction is just part of what could be a considerably longer rail line. For example, the line will allow trains to run one day from the South Bay via a Green Line extension under study and partially funded by Measure R. Extending the Crenshaw/LAX Line north of Exposition Boulevard is not funded at this time, but is in Metro’s long-range plan. Just getting the Crenshaw/LAX to the future Purple Line would certainly make it easier to reach the airport for many more people near the Metro Rail network.

Finally, I thought Maddeus’ article indirectly attacks another worthy question that will continue to be debated: how much money should be spent on the Airport Metro Connector project, considering all the factors above?

RELATED:

Four alternatives move forward for Airport Metro Connector project — with more study of two other options

Motion seeks to restore two alternatives that would bring light rail directly into LAX terminals

Connecting Metro Rail to LAX: a look at issues currently on the table

More than a fourth of Orange Line passengers may ride for free, study shows (L.A. Times)

Coverage of the two-day fare check in December by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department  that found a 22 percent fare evasion rate one day and a 16 percent rate on the second day. Metro officials say the agency is losing $1 million to $2 million annually in fare evasion on the line and two Metro Board members — Paul Krekorian and Zev Yaroslavsky — have asked for an awareness campaign to teach/remind the public to pay fares as well as a report on the feasibility and cost of adding gates to the Orange Line.

Here’s the staff report that the Times article is based on. In the meantime, please remember to tap your TAP cards at the validators on the platform. If you don’t, you could be cited for fare evasion and this report pretty much guarantees that deputies will be cracking down.

The day we lost Atlanta (Politico)

Snowpocalypse! Photo by William Brawley, via Flickr creative commons.

Snowpocalypse! Photo by William Brawley, via Flickr creative commons.

Interesting story looks at the root causes that saw two inches of snow earlier this week shut down the metro Atlanta area and strand thousands in cars, schools and other buildings. The gist of it: everyone tried to hit the road at once to get home before the snow, balkanized governance over the metro area and not enough transit in Atlanta’s ‘burbs. In other words, it was a sprawlstorm now a snowstorm that tanked Atlanta.

The New York Times also has a strong article explaining the storm, pointing out that allowing tractor trailers with no tire chains on freeways through the heart of the city was kind of dumb — and that city leaders did little because they thought the storm was going to veer south of the metro area.

I’d like to make fun of Atlanta but then I took a moment to ponder what would happen if two inches of snow fell across sprawling Los Angeles County….

Roundup of today’s Metro Board of Directors meeting

Here are some of the more interesting items tackled today by the Metro Board of Directors at their January meeting:

•Item 76, the Board approved a public hearing on March 29 to review two fare restructuring proposals released by Metro staff on Friday. At this point, the Board is scheduled to vote on the changes at its meeting on May 22. Source post including charts and staff report.

•Item 15 on options for further study for the Airport Metro Connector: The Board approved a substitute motion by Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas for more study of two alternatives that would run light rail directly into the LAX terminal area; however the Board did not vote to include those alternatives as part of the project’s draft environmental study. I’ll have a post up with more info tonight or tomorrow. Staff report and earlier Source post with the four proposals favored by Metro staff and another Source post on the original Knabe-Ridley-Thomas motion that was tabled in favor of the substitute motion.

•Item 6, the Board approved a motion by Board Members Paul Krekorian and Zev Yaroslavsky directing Metro to investigate adding gates or partial gates to the Orange Line to reduce fare evasion. Motion and Source post with staff report on two December crackdowns on fare evasion on the Orange Line.

•Item 67: the item on possible ballot measures in 2016 was withdrawn by Metro staff. However, staff will continue to work with local COGs (Council of Governments) and other stakeholders on developing a list of local transportation projects that need funding. Staff report and earlier Source post.

•Item 39, the Board on consent approved a $33.4-million budget to refurbish Blue Line stations, including new canopies. Staff report.

•Item 53, the Board on consent approved a motion asking the Board to give Metro permission to seek a state bill that would allow the ExpressLanes program to continue. Here’s what you need to understand: the Board will not decide whether to continue the ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110 freeways until this spring. If they decide yes, Metro would need state legislation to continue the program — and now is the time to submit bills in the Legislature for consideration this year. Staff report.

•Item 74, the Board approved the motion posted below involving a business mitigation program for the Crenshaw/LAX Line. Staff report

•Item 58, the Board approved a motion directing Metro to study of how a countywide bike share program could be developed and implemented. Staff report

•Item 44, the Board on consent approved increasing the budget of the Silver Line bus platform at Patsaouras Plaza from $16.8 million to $30.9 million. Staff report

•Item 75, an oral report on issues involving the Orange Line’s Pierce College station and lack of restrooms at stations was not heard. It will be heard at a later date. Motion and earlier Source post

•Item 71, the Board approved a motion by Board Members Ara Najarian and Zev Yaroslavsky directing Metro to work with UCLA and USC on commemorative TAP cards. Motion