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.

  

  

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.

Roundup of Thursday’s Metro Board of Directors meeting

A few items of interest tackled by the Metro Board at today’s monthly meeting:

•The Board approved Item 16 to provide $1.3 million for improvements to the Branford Street railroad crossing of Metrolink tracks in Los Angeles in the northeast San Fernando Valley. Improvements include pedestrian gates, roadway widening and additional warning signals.

•The Board approved Item 55 to rename the Blue Line’s Grand Station to Grand/L.A. Trade Tech and the Expo Line’s 23rd Street Station to 23rd St/L.A. Trade Tech. The Board also approved Item 56 to rename the Exposition/La Brea station to the Exposition/La Brea Ethel Bradley Station.

•The Board approved Item 58, a motion that asks Metro to implement an online database of previous Board of Director actions. At present, searching for motions and past actions is a crapshoot. The motion also asks for linking audio from Board meetings to reports — something that would, I suspect, be very useful to anyone who cares or is interested in actions taken by the Board of an agency with a multi-billion dollar annual budget.

•The Board approved Item 67, asking the Board to oppose AB 1941, which would add two members to the Metro Board to be appointed by the Assembly Speaker and the Senate Rules Committee, respectively. I included some background and thoughts on this legislation in a recent headlines — see the last item in this post.
•The Board approved Item 18.1, a motion asking Caltrans to report on difficulties that have emerged in the transfer of park-n-ride lots at Metro Rail stations from Caltrans to Metro. The motion begins: “Item No. 18 and Director Najarian’s accompanying Motion underscore the importance of Metro’s increasingly complex relationship with Caltrans.” If I am reading the remainder of the motion correctly, I think “complex” is a perhaps one way of saying “difficult,” at least on this issue.

•The Board approved Item 70, a motion asking Metro to seek ways to improve lighting and pedestrian access to/from the Universal City over-flow parking lot for the Red Line station.

Item 9, a motion to eliminate the monthly maintenance fee for ExpressLanes accounts that infrequently use the lanes and substitute a flat $1 fee on all accounts, was held and will be considered by the Board in April.

Transportation headlines, Monday, December 2

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!

Ridership discrepancy calls Metro’s estimation method into question (L.A. Times)

The article ponders the difference between Metro’s traditional way of estimating ridership and new data generated by the latched turnstiles at entrances to Red and Purple Line stations. The traditional ridership estimates have been running significantly higher than the turnstile counts since gates begun to be latched in June.

Metro officials say that the turnstile data is preliminary and not yet complete enough to serve as a substitute for ridership data. As for ridership, officials say the traditional estimates seem to be capturing trends on the subway and that the methodology behind those estimates is approved by the Federal Transit Administration.

Speed is cited as possible cause of deadly train crash in the Bronx (New York Times) 

No official word yet on the cause of the Metro North commuter train derailment just north of Manhattan on Sunday morning that killed four passengers and critically injured 11.

The speed limit along the curved stretch of track next to the Hudson River is 30 miles per hour and officials suggested Monday that the train was going faster; no one knows why. The NYT quotes an anonymous source saying the engineer told emergency workers he had to quickly apply the brakes.

Metro North’s Hudson Valley Line remains closed. It has been a difficult year for Metro North; two of its trains on the New Haven Line collided in May, injuring 70, and a railroad worker was struck and killed by a train in late spring.

More states raise taxes to pay for transportation (Kansas City Star) 

With Congress log-jammed, states and local governments are increasingly willing to raise taxes to pay for transportation improvements. Conservative groups are grumbling and may challenge some of the tax hikes, but politicians from both parties are finding that improving infrastructure is popular with voters.

In other words, the closer the politicians live to the actual people and land they govern, the more responsive they are.

Why mass transit is doomed in America: politicians don’t know people who use it (Salon) 

Race, class, fear and shame: transit barriers (KCET)

Two good semi-related articles. At KCET, long-time transit rider D.J. Waldie looks at some recent studies and articles that suggest the so-called ‘car bias’ remains strong and is preventing people from trying transit — even when transit may save them time and money. The big problem, as Waldie writes, is that new policies are encouraging denser developments near transit which may end up housing people who still won’t take the bus or train. Hmmm. No, make that a double hmmm.

At Salon, writer Alex Pareene gets grumpy on the fact that politicians in New York — which should be the most transit-friendly state in the nation owing to the Big Apple — consistently find ways to steer money away from transit.

But it’s not just a New York problem, Pareene writes before delivering a big-time spanking to Minneapolis and Atlanta. And then he finishes up his article with this eternally glorious paragraph which made the Source smile and then smile again:

Just about the only place where there seems to be hope for mass transit in America is, bizarrely enough, Los Angeles, where the system is currently in the process of growing and improving. Why there, of all places? Maybe because while Los Angeles politicians are as unlikely to ride buses and trains as politicians anywhere else, they do have a personal stake in seeing other drivers get the hell off the road.

Metro Rail gate latching proceeding faster than expected; five Gold Line gates to be latched in mid-September

Latching of gates on the Metro Red/Purple Lines was completed August 5, 2013, three weeks ahead of schedule, meaning latching can proceed on the Metro Gold Line without delay. The first gates were latched on the Red/Purple Lines at Union Station on June 19, 2013.

Five Gold Line stations will be latched on Monday, September 16, two in East Los Angeles at Mariachi Plaza and Soto Street and three stations in Pasadena at Sierra Madre Villa, Allen Avenue and Lake Avenue. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) will staff the stations one week prior to latching through Monday, September 30, 2013 to ensure safety and to alert passengers of the schedule for latching.

New floor decals in distinctive yellow colors will be installed soon on the walls and floors near turnstiles with the slogan “TAP is Your Ticket.”

TAP is a universal fare system used by Metro Rail, Metro’s 2,000 buses and 10 other municipal transit agencies. Metrolink has its own TAP-enabled card that permits Metrolink passengers to transfer to Metro Rail with no extra charge. TAP allows passengers to transfer seamlessly to another carrier without having to fumble for change or figure out what a particular carrier charges. In addition, TAP provides up-to-date passenger data so service can be adjusted for demand, if needed.

TAP can be purchased at TAP vending machines at all Metro Rail stations, at nearly 500 retail outlets including many Ralphs markets and participating check cashing services. A TAP card can be reloaded and reused. TAP can be purchased online at http://www.taptogo.net and it can be registered so that if a TAP card is lost or stolen the card and remaining value can be returned.

The original schedule called for Sierra Madre Villa, Allen and Lake Stations to be latched on Monday, October 14, 2013 with Mariachi Plaza and Soto Stations scheduled to latch the following week on Monday, October 21, 2013.

 

 

Notes from this morning’s gate latching press conference

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photos: Steve Hymon/Metro

It has been a long time coming: The gates are now latched full-time at both entrances to the Red/Purple Line at Union Station. In order to get through the gates, all patrons need to have a TAP card — either the plastic kind or the paper tickets that are TAP enabled.

Here’s a post that explains everything.

In order to help get the word out, Metro held a news conference on the subway’s mezzanine this morning — and there was considerable media interest.

All the speakers — Metro Board Chair Mike Antonovich, Metrolink Board Chair Patrick Morris and Metro Board Members Zev Yaroslavsky, Richard Katz and Antonio Villaraigosa — hammered a similar theme that all patrons should pay to ride. “Gate latching will end the freeloading,” Antonovich said.

Yaroslavsky called it a fair and responsible way to run a transit system. He added that increased revenues from fares will be pumped right back into an expanding system for those who depend on transit and those want to use transit as an alternative to sitting in traffic.

Villaraigosa reminded everyone that this was an effort many moons in the making and said the expansion of TAP to other transit agencies will help build the regional transit system the area deserves.

— posted for Steve Hymon, who is stuck in a meeting

Gates to be latched full-time at Union Station subway entrances beginning today; here is the Source’s Q&A about the turnstiles and TAP

Patrons at the Union Station Red/Purple Line station last week. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Patrons at the Union Station Red/Purple Line station last week. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

On Wednesday, the gates will be latched at all times at the two entrances of the Red/Purple Line subway at Union Station.

Gates at the 15 other Red/Purple Line subway stations will then be latched over the course of the summer. If Metro is satisfied with operations and results on the subway, gates at some Gold, Green and Blue line stations will be latched as early as this fall.

I know there is considerable interest in gate-latching and TAP among Source readers. My sense is that many readers of The Source believe it’s about time the gates are latched while others remain skeptical the program will benefit riders or the agency’s bottom line.

Click to see larger.

Click to see larger.

One thing that’s hard to argue: Metro Rail ridership has greatly increased in recent years and that hasn’t made the current way of checking fares any easier — especially at peak hours when there are a lot of people aboard trains and exiting and entering stations.

The following Q&A is intended to answer questions that many of you have about the program, as well as help new riders navigate the changes. As always, please feel free to comment and ask questions. We’ll do our best to get answers to the most salient questions.

Why does Metro say ‘latched’ instead of ‘locked?’

Locked implies that customers may be locked out, whereas latched implies customers will be able to pass through the gates. In other words, Metro feels like “latched” is a more accurate way of saying it.

What’s the goal of the gate-latching program?

Metro hopes to create a safer customer experience by reducing fare evasion. The agency also estimates that there will be an annual increase in revenue from the subway alone of $6 million to $9 million because more people riding the system will be paying fares. More on fare evasion below.

Can I ride Metro Rail without a TAP card?

No. You must have a TAP card from Metro or a TAP-enabled paper ticket from another agency.

Do I need to TAP the gates when exiting a station?

No.

That could change in the future if Metro adopts time-based ordistance-based fares.

Where do I get a TAP card? 

They can be purchased for $1 at ticket vending machines at Metro Rail stations. TAP cards can be purchased with a day pass when boarding buses for $6 — $5 for the day pass, $1 for the card.

Monthly (30 days), weekly (7 days), day passes and the regional monthly EZ Pass can be stored on TAP cards. You can also put different amounts of cash on the card (stored value) and use that money to purchase single fares or passes. The stored value is a great way for occasional riders to avoid having to deal with ticket machines every day they ride.

TAP cards are also available at 500 stores across Los Angeles County and can be ordered online at taptogo.net.

Is Metro doing anything about the taptogo.net website, which can be difficult to use?

Yes, it is being revamped and a newly designed website is expected to debut later this year. Booyah!

Continue reading

@Metrolosangeles Twitter Tuesday, June 18 edition

Welcome to Twitter Tuesday, our roundup of the latest Metro related tweets. To get our attention, add the #MetroLosAngeles tag to your tweets and subscribe to our feed if you haven’t already. For specific complaints and customer service, please use the Customer Comment Form on metro.net.


Metrolink posts details on TAP-enabled tickets for its customers

Metrolink_Ticket_Stock_2013

As has been discussed previously on The Source, Metro is preparing to begin latching gates at Red and Purple Line subway stations beginning this summer, with gates at other Metro Rail stations to be latched subsequently. All Metro riders will need to ‘tap’ their TAP cards to get through the gates.

That, of course, is an issue for Metrolink passengers who get free transfers to Metro as part of their fares — Metrolink uses paper tickets, not the plastic “TAP” cards that have become the norm on Metro. In order for Metrolink passengers to get through latched gates, Metrolink and Metro have worked together to develop paper TAP cards for Metrolink customers.

The following has been posted to Metrolink’s website and explains the transition from the current ticketing system to TAP-enabled paper tickets. Bottom line: The TAP-enabled Metrolink tickets for destinations in Los Angeles County (the area served by Metro) will be available through Metrolink ticket machines and for those purchasing Metrolink monthly passes. Metrolink customers will have to ‘tap’ those tickets when using Metro Rail and will continue to show their tickets to bus operators on Metro bus lines.

Many more details below from Metrolink:

Metrolink to provide TAP-enabled tickets

Metrolink and Metro have worked collaboratively to create a Metrolink ticket that is compatible with the Metro TAP system. TAP-enabled tickets will be dispensed from Metrolink Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) to allow passage through Metro’s turnstiles leading to Metro rails lines and stations.

All Metrolink tickets with Los Angeles County destinations will be TAP-compatible, and all riders will be required to physically tap their tickets at the turnstiles and validators when transferring to a Metro Rail line. When boarding a bus, the current policy of simply showing the bus operator your Metrolink ticket will still be in effect. Tapping is not required on buses.

Continue reading

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.