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.
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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?
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!