Update, 3:42 p.m.: trip planner at metro.net restored and ticket machines accepting credit cards again

UPDATE, 3:42 P.M.: Earlier problems detailed below appear to have been resolved. Thank you for your patience and sorry for any inconvenience!

Due to an internet issue at Metro headquarters, credit cards are not currently working at ticket machines at Metro Rail stations and other locations where the ticket machines are located. Please use cash until credit card access is restored!

Also the trip planner at metro.net is not currently working. Please use Google Transit for your planning needs.

Metro is working to fix both issues. Thank you for your patience!

 

Gate latching tests to continue at some Metro Rail stations

As many Source readers are keenly aware, Metro is preparing to latch the gates at Red and Purple Line stations this summer.
In the meantime, you may encounter testing of latched gates at some station or station entrances over the next few weeks. These tests have already been underway and have gone well. There’s nothing extra you need to do — just ‘tap’ your TAP card to pass through the turnstiles — just as you’re already doing! Metro staff will be on hand to help Metrolink ticket holders and others without TAP cards pass through the turnstiles.
As for Metrolink riders, there will be new TAP-enabled Metrolink tickets available before the gates in the subway are latched. In plain English, don’t worry Metrolink riders. You’re not going to be latched out!

Metrolink-to-Metro TAP test goes well

I happened upon the testing during the afternoon rush hour on Wednesday and everything appeared to go smoothly. With Metro preparing to latch gates at Red and Purple Line stations this summer, Metro and Metrolink are testing paper TAP-enabled tickets that will allow Metrolink passengers to get through the gates.

From Metro’s TAP staff:

On Wednesday, March 6, 2013, Metro and Metrolink collaborated on a successful test-latching of Metro’s fare gates in Union Station.

At approximately 9:00 a.m., two of the largest groups of Metrolink riders successfully transferred to Metro through latched gate arrays at the Alameda entrance to the station. For the first time ever, Metrolink customers were tapped through the gates by Metrolink staff using Metrolink TAP tickets. The successful testing continued through 5:30 p.m.

In addition, the new gate help phone installed near the gate array was tested. The gate help phones are designed to be accessible to those who may have trouble with their TAP cards, including customers with physical disabilities. Customers do not have to dial a number or push a button for assistance. An operator automatically responds when the customer comes into close proximity to the phone and can assist him or her by remotely opening the ADA accessible gate.

Standard operating procedures went smoothly and testing is expected to continue in future weeks. Metro and Metrolink are pleased that our collaboration has been successful so far and expect gate latching of Red and Purple Line stations to begin in June.

Transportation headlines, Monday, Feb. 4

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.

ART OF TRANSIT: A Metro Rapid bus on Broadway passes by Grand Park and Los Angeles City Hall. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: A Metro Rapid bus on Broadway passes by Grand Park and Los Angeles City Hall. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Fixes on tap for TAP at Metro (ZevWeb) 

A very good summary of work underway on TAP by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky who is, of course, also a member of the Metro Board of Directors that makes the final call on issues related to TAP. Among the news, some of which we’ve reported here in drips and drabs:

•In the last 11 months of 2012, more than 65,000 tickets were issued for fare evasion on the Metro system. That, of course, doesn’t mean that there were only 65K cases of fare evasion — those just represent the people caught and cited.

•Gate latching on the Red/Purple Line will begin this summer and eventually spread to the Green Line and parts of the Blue and Gold lines.

•Metro is working on revising the on-screen instructions at ticket machines for those buying and loading fares on TAP cards. Validators will also be moved to more convenient locations.

•Paper TAP cards with electronic chips embedded in them are being tested for Metrolink passengers so they will have a way to get through the latched gates.

Will a smooth Blue Line ride finally come to Long Beach? (L.A. Streetsblog)

After all these many years, the city of Long Beach still hasn’t given signal priority to the Blue Line. Why? It’s costly and it requires a tech upgrade are two of the big issues. The Long Beach City Council recently voted to ask Metro for funding and that could be a start. But let’s be honest here: signal priority is a rarity for mass transit in the region and the city of Los Angeles — as riders of the Expo Line, Eastside Gold Line and Orange Line likely know.

Villaraigosa says he’ll stay for the rest of his term (LA Observed) 

Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Member Antonio Villaraigosa released a statement late Friday saying he plans to stay on the job until his second term ends on June 30. There had been a lot of buzz and rumors in the media about him being nominated to replace the retiring Ray LaHood as the next U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Whether he was offered the job or not is anybody’s guess — the media hasn’t verified it one way or the other.

AEG giving seed money to Pershing Square effort (Los Angeles Downtown News) 

Very short story but AEG is providing $700,000 for an effort to re-imagine the downtown park. There’s no money yet to actually revamp the park. If so, my big idea: open it up to the surrounding streets instead of walling it off. It would also help if the parking lot on the north side of the park is finally developed, as has been proposed.

Here’s the thing: there’s already significant public spaces at the first three Red/Purple Line stations: Olvera Street and the L.A. Plaza Park across from Union Station, Grand Park at the Civic Center Station and Pershing Square at Pershing Square. But Union Station doesn’t feel very connected to the L.A. Plaza Park, nor does the subway station at 5th and Hill feel very park adjacent, thanks to the steps across the street leading up to the park.

CO2 emissions down in 2010 in California, continuing a trend (U.S. Energy Information Administration) 

New data just released shows that carbon dioxide emissions in California dropped again in 2010 — both overall and in the transportation sector. CO2 is a heat trapping gas that is primarily responsible for climate change — i.e. global warming. That’s good, but the Golden State still belches more CO2 into the air as a result of transportation than any other state.

Texas, however, is the overall CO2 emitter, thanks to being an amazing energy hog (see bottom chart). I’m guessing a more temperate climate near the California coasts help keep our usage down. In the entire United States, transportation is responsible for 33.3 percent of CO2 emissions behind the leading cause, electric power generation at 39.8 percent.

It’s really a shame that it takes more than two years to collect and process the data from the states. Some type of real-time — or close to that — data might provide a greater incentive for the public to try to reduce its footprint.

As we’ve mentioned before, a great way to reduce your carbon footprint is to take transit instead of driving alone, particularly in vehicles that aren’t very fuel efficient. The top document shows California’s yearly numbers and the bottom one is a state-by-state comparison of the 2010 numbers. Click on the red type to see larger.

Other actions taken today by the Metro Board of Directors: contract to buy new buses, TVMs for El Monte Station

Here are a few other items of interest tackled at today’s meeting of the full Metro Board of Directors:

•The Board approved a $302-million contract with New Flyer of America for the purchase of 550 new 40-foot buses powered by compressed natural gas. Staff report (pdf)

•The Board approved a contract modification up to $610,000 with Cubic Transportation Systems for the purchase and installation of four ticket vending machines for the El Monte Transit Center. Staff report (pdf)

•The Board approved a series of contract modifications totaling about $13.5 million with outside firms, including URS Corporation, for continued work on the I-710 South Corridor Project’s environmental studies. Staff report (pdf)

•The Board approved giving Metro the authority to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with three developers seeking to build a mixed-use project that would partially occupy Metro-owned land adjacent to the Red Line’s Vermont/Sunset Station. Staff report (pdf)

Metro staff proposes installing four ticket vending machines at new El Monte Station

El Monte TVM staff report by

The Metro Board of Directors will be holding its committee meetings today and Thursday. I’m going through the agendas and will post staff reports and proposals that I think will be of the most interest to readers.

This one certainly qualifies. It’s a proposal by staff to install four ticket vending machines at the new El Monte Station. This is something that several Source readers requested after the station opened last fall as the machines are a convenient way to purchase TAP cards or replenish them without having to go online or go out of your way.

The final decision on the machines will be made by the full Metro Board at their regular monthly meeting on Jan. 24.

 

Pay your Metro Rail fare using tokens

Hat tip to L.A. Streetsblog’s Dana Gabbard for a post asking a question we get occasionally: can tokens still be used to pay Metro fares at ticket machines?

The answer is yes, as the following plucked from the Metro website explains:

If you don’t have a TAP card:

  1. Push button A – “Purchase new TAP card + fare”
    (If you don’t see this choice, press “CANCEL” before beginning.)
  2. Push button F – “TAP ($1 fee) and Metro Pass”
  3. Push button C – “Metro Rail 1-Ride”
  4. Insert – $1 in cash and 1 token.
  5. Take & tap – Take card from tray below and tap when entering system.

If you have a TAP card:

  1. Touch – Touch your card to the TAP target.
  2. Push button F – “Add Metro Pass”
  3. Push button C – “Metro Rail 1-Ride”
  4. Insert – 1 token.
  5. Touch – Touch card to TAP target again to load fare.
  6. Tap – Tap when entering system.

TAP improvements proposed by Metro staff

First, some good news: A number of changes are in the works for Metro ticket machines.

Among them: allowing customers to purchase stored value amounts of $3 (for those taking round-trips), new messaging on the machines to help customers make their first purchase, as well as some minor changes in the way fares are described in order to make it easier to understand.

In addition, several other notable changes are proposed by Metro staff as part of a contract modification with Cubic, the vendor that provides TAP equipment (The taptogo.net website is overseen by another vendor, Xerox, and there are talks scheduled about updating that). Many of these changes involve issues with TAP raised by both Source readers and the media.

Among the improvements proposed in the Metro staff report:

• Simplify TVM screens to make them more user-friendly.

• Update and clarify the existing “Help” options and directions.

• Incorporate up to six languages in addition to the existing English and Spanish options currently provided.

• Enable the purchase of multiple rides on a single TAP card and/or the purchase of multiple TAP cards in a single cash/credit card transaction for families and groups. (Note to readers: TAP cards can hold up to eight single rides. The issue here is that the machines currently require customers to buy a single ride and then start over with a new transaction in order to buy a second single ride — i.e. the equivalent of a round-trip purchase for those using one bus or train to get somewhere and back).

• Install an additional TVM [ticket vending machine] next to the Metro Customer Center in the East Portal at Union Station to help expedite customer purchases and provide service when the center is closed, as well as an additional TVM at the Culver City station.

Another proposal: relocate some of the standing TAP validators in rail stations to more convenient places to help traffic flow better through the stations.

Here’s the staff report:

TAP contract modification

How to purchase a single senior ride using a TAP card

We received a good question from a reader last week: he was returning home from the Hollywood Bowl and encountered a Metro Rail station in which the ticket machines were no longer issuing paper tickets. This was a problem for the man as the rail station he used to reach the Bowl was still issuing paper tickets and his wife didn’t have a TAP card but now wanted to purchase a senior fare.

Here’s how you do it on the TAP only ticket machines: 
1. Select button A:  “Purchase New TAP card + fare”

2. Then select button F:  “TAP($1 Fee) and Metro Pass”

3. Then select button I:  “1-Ride, Sr/D 1-Ride w/ID, 9a-3p, 7p-5a 25 cents”

The total price for the transaction is $1.25 — $1 for the TAP and 25 cents for the senior non-peak fare. The TAP card is good for three years, so the woman’s next single ride will only cost 25 cents.

It’s important to note that such purchases are not being done on the honor system. If a sheriff’s deputy checks your fare, you may need to have an ID card to prove you qualify for the senior discount.

Of course, seniors who ride Metro frequently should get a senior TAP card, so they’re eligible for the $14 monthly pass — a very good deal. Click here to learn how to apply

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