Turnstiles to begin closure for TAP

Red and Purple Line riders will see locked turnstiles at four different subway stations for one afternoon each beginning in late September, as the TAP folks continue to move the program forward.

It’s another step toward securing the system, as well as an attempt to get a handle on how many paper passes are still being used. That info will be helpful to the TAP conversion process since in order to lock the gates at some point, all the paper needs to go away. At the same time, the turnstile closure will be an educational opportunity in that passengers at the four selected stations will get a chance to try out TAP and, hopefully, see how easy it is.

During the exercise nothing will change for current TAP users. Nor will paper pass users, Metrolink riders or EZ Transit Pass passengers be required to change their travel habits. All stations will be well staffed with personnel who will tap through passengers whose fares do not open the gates.

ADA passengers, bicyclists, families with strollers and travelers with bulky baggage still will use the wider ADA gates. Those gates also will be shut but will open after the gate reader is tapped.

Gate locking will take place at four stations only: On the Red Line at Hollywood/Western and Vermont/Beverly stations and on the Purple Line at Wilshire/Normandie and Wilshire/Western stations. Those locations were selected because they’re light on transfer activity so there is expected to be less impact on customers.

Before final closure could begin — remember this is just a test — Metrolink and EZ Transit Pass passengers will need to be provided with TAP-enabled cards and ticket vending machines converted to TAP-only operations. Staff also is looking at options for paper transfers.

For more information on the four-week turnstile closure, check out the board report.

Categories: Transportation News

44 replies

  1. Implementing TAP is costing many orders of magnitude more than the lost fares from non-paying passengers. TAP is a problem to a solution, not a solution to a problem.

    If Metro really wanted to act like a business, it would stop throwing good money after bad into TAP. If you really want to protect the taxpayer, call for ending TAP!

    With all the money being spent on TAP, it should be no surprise that there may be people getting paid to clamor for it online.

  2. Even if the turnstiles are locked, I am worried that passengers will use the emergency doors to enter the platform. I saw quite a few passengers using emergency doors to enter/exit on metro rails

  3. Berlin uses proof of payment. Gates are not necessary for distance fares it just makes it easier to enforce.

  4. @John

    Because they put too much faith on the honor system. Really, did they think Angelinos were going to be honest about it?

    If proof-of-payment was the key, cities like NYC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, etc. would’ve been using it.

    Oh, and don’t forget the usual excuse “We’re not NYC, London, or Tokyo, we’re Los Angeles. We can do it differently.”

    Oops and they come back a decade later scratching their heads thinking it wasn’t a good idea at all and we end spending more tax dollars to fix it.

    All of these is just a ruse to keep tax dollars flowing:

    1. Ask for taxpayer money

    2. Say “we’re not London or Tokyo, we’re Los Angeles, we’re different” when someone tries to point out the obvious

    3. Problem arises and we go back to the drawing board to try to fix it. It costs more now because instead of 5 stations we now have 70 stations to deal with

    4. Ask for more taxpayer money to fix it. Repeat from step 1.

    People need to wake up!

  5. How come the MTA didn’t install turnstiles in the subway system TO BEGIN WITH? If BART (in the Bay Area) has had a set-up with turnstiles since the beginning, why did the MTA never begin with it, as “light-rail” lines came into existence? Too logical? Potential for TOO MUCH REVENUE?
    No developer willing to give “kickbacks” to the MTA to install the devices? What?

  6. For the record, Moscow has had faregates for a very long time. And they are these nasty things that stay open all the time, but then whack you in the shins if you try to go through without having paid. (If you pay, you go through unmolested).

    And Moscow Metro has had an RFID card since at least 1999.

    Here’s a picture of one with a mosaic of everyone’s favorite German economist in the background.

  7. I think the consensus of those who want public transit to become more “business oriented,” is that they want to see LA Metro go from 75:25 tax-to-self revenue to at least 50:50 by means of trying out business minded approach like distance fares and renting out spaces at train stations to businesses to earn more self-sustained income.

    Angry Middle Class made an excellent point about renting out spaces at 70 of our train stations to commercialization. Even $500 per month in rental income amounts to $420,000 per year to Metro, meaning $420,000 less in taxes.

    Said $420,000 in self-funded revenue can be more than be enough to hire janitorial or security staff or make some much needed improvements at some of our stations that are in poor shape, all without resorting to higher taxes.

    Why waste 70 train stations that does nothing but sit there and act only as a train station? It just collects garbage and becomes dull and dilapidated through poor maintenance through budget cuts.

    Our trains stations earns nothing when they have the potential to become more than just a train station.

    I for one, would love the idea of buying the latest Newsweek or Sports Illustrated at the train station so I have something to read while riding the train.

    I love the Rush Snack Bar at the 7th/Metro Station. That concept should be spread out to all the other 69 stations out there.

  8. More commercialization? Allow a merchant set up within the station? You must not be a rider. The trash that would come with a coffee kiosk makes me shudder. There is NO food or beverage allowed on trains or buses. You going to finish your $4 cup of coffee in the the 5-7 minutes between trains? What about accidental spills? Who and when does that get cleaned up? How could crowd control be managed? Long lines already in Union Station transferred onto a platform where there’s already limited room? Merchants such as in Union Station are fine. There’s places to sit, lines and trash are managed through the overall facility and food and beverage are not a few feet from the tracks.

  9. @Spokker
    “The other half of the equation is that the population density is such that where ever you put the train stations, lots of people are going to show up. They have also made owning a car expensive.”

    If population density were the key to answer public transit problems, then why does the NYMTA suck compared to London and Tokyo, and it’s ridden with billions of bad debt, and year after year of higher fares and cutbacks to services?

    Density and cost of ownership of cars isn’t the key to fix public transit woes. If it were, public transit in the NE wouldn’t face such issues as I mentioned.

    It’s pretty much what IT Guy said: Metro needs to stop being so dependent on taxes and become more like a business.

    For that matter, I also agree with Frank M. Metro would be better off bringing in a transit official from Tokyo or London to fix LA’s public transit problems with their years of expertise of running public transit with a business oriented model.

  10. Angry,

    Good urban design creates a “business friendly” environment for transit operators. To suggest otherwise is a failure to recognize how dependent urban design and transit are to one another.

  11. I don’t understand all this hate for making Metro become more “business oriented.”

    We don’t live in a socialist country. We are a robust country founded upon the principals of capitalism.

    Ideas of urban designs and dependency on tax funds as a key to keeping public transit running are all leftist socialist ideas that are prone to failure. Look no farther than the Pyongyang Metro or any of the former Eastern European public transit systems when they were behind the Iron Curtain to see what their public transit state were in after using billions in donated money for Communist propaganda art in their subways.

    Art adds no revenue. Art costs money to maintain. Zero minus maintenance fees equals debt. Don’t you get it?

    There’s no need to copy socialist model to public transit. Robust capitalistic countries like the UK, the EU, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea all have figured out a capitalistic approach to keeping public transit working.

    Distance or zonal based fares. People pay their fair price for distance traveled. Low flat rate fares cannot be sustained forever. Sooner or later we’re going to end up with $2.00, $3.00 or $5.00 flat rate fares as the system expands. Either that or people will end up paying 15%, or even 20% in sales taxes. Enough is enough.

    Opening Metro stations for businesses. Businesses adds revenue. Revenue from renting out spaces to businesses at train stations means more extra money that Metro can use to maintain stations, hire more staff, buy more trains, etc. Metro has 70 stations across the board. Renting out a space for a mini-Starbucks at each station for $500 per month would add $35,000 per month in extra revenue to Metro. Over a year, that amounts to $420,000. That’s $420,000 that Metro could do without asking for $420,000 in taxpayer money.

    Just the two of these alone solves a lot of issues without resorting to taxes as the solve-all solution to all of our public transit problems.

    • Angry,

      I think the key difference between the U.S. and those other “robust capitalistic countries like the UK, the EU, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea” is that those other countries all tax gasoline rather heavily. In doing so they have begun to require drivers to pay the full cost burning fossil fuels. That is internal costs (i.e. extraction, refinement, delivery of fuel) plus the costs that are borne by society (air pollution, oil spills, etc.).

      In America we tend to socialize the costs of pollution by requiring everyone to bear the costs, not just those who generate the pollution. That tends to give the car a greater competitive advantage in the U.S., while transit is a more attractive in those countries you mentioned.

      Thanks for commenting,

      Carter Rubin
      Contributor, The Source

  12. “Gas taxes and toll road collections are only half of the equation to what makes public transit in Japan great.”

    The other half of the equation is that the population density is such that where ever you put the train stations, lots of people are going to show up. They have also made owning a car expensive.

    Making comparisons between Japan and LA are silly.

  13. I think Urban design plays a much more important role in transit success than any “business like mindsets” in my opinion. Bad urban planning in LA and the rest of the U.S.(i.e. mass highway construction, poor parking policies, large lot single family homes.) lead to the death of all local private transit operators (Pacific Electric, The LA Yellow Cars, The Key System in Oakland/Bay Area and so on).

    Heck you don’t even have to ask some one from Japan to get good transit advice. Just get someone from Curitiba in Brazil or Bogota in Columbia. They have extremely successful for profit running bus rapid transit systems. Part of their success can be attributed to good public planning in those cities (bike infrastructure, high density housing, few off road parking lots/structures, using their tax dollars to build transit corridors instead of highways, etc)

  14. I doubt there’s anything about Japanese group harmonics or said “cultural differences” that makes public transit different from the US.

    Japan has an excellent public transit system where the cost of running them are both from taxes as well as running them like a for-profit business.

    Gas taxes and toll road collections are only half of the equation to what makes public transit in Japan great.

    The other half of the equation includes using rail stations themselves as a place to promote businesses, earning additional revenue from renting out said spaces to merchants and retailers, direct business activity adding to more security to places without the need to hire as much officers which keeps security costs low, a more common sense distance based model to recover farebox ratios, maximizing efficiency of express and limited services as well as transfer timings by data collection of tap-in and tap-out info of Suica and PASMO cards, ease of regulations and restrictions for what public transit can/cannot do (need for parking lots, no eating/drinking policies, zoning regulations) etc.

    All of these “business like mindsets” are in place along with funds from taxes to keep public transit running. My guess is that most US agencies run on a 25/75 self-fund/tax ratio whereas Japan runs on a 75/25 ratio; tax funds used to keep public transit are lower and majority of it comes from operating it like a for-profit business.

    If LA can headhunt a Japanese transit official who has expertise in moving towards such a business mindset, a lot of things at LA Metro can be steered in the right direction.

  15. “that approach works best with Japanese gas taxes. Maybe even Japanese group harmonics.”

    Don’t forget Japanese highway tolls (10,000 yen, or $130, to drive from Tokyo to Osaka), Japanese parking policy (no mandates to provide parking, but every car needs an off-street space), and Japanese urban design (narrow streets, low speed limits, moderate to high density with mixed uses)

  16. For the price of the TAP system/mess we could have built a 5th/Flower station as part of the Regional Connector, and had money left over. With the expected mega-pressure at 7th/Metro Center when full Expo and Regional Connector built, we WILL be very sorry we didn’t build 5th/Flower.
    Metro excels at blowing money on stupid projects like TAP (nowhere close to its intended solution) then cries poor for the 5th/Flower station. That station could have been built WITHOUT Fed money.

  17. Frank, I would love to have a Japanese company/ Japanese transit officials come in and fix our transportation mess.

    Of course, that approach works best with Japanese gas taxes. Maybe even Japanese group harmonics.

    Also, the Shinkansen has been around since the 1960s and Suica since 2001. We’d better hurry up.

  18. Closing the turnstiles might force Metrolink to remove the embedded “EZ pass day pass” from their one-way/round trip tickets. This may allow for fares to resemble San Francisco’s Caltrain or Chicago’s Metra instead of the current $6.50 boarding fare they have now.

  19. For all the money Metro had wasted in getting TAP and turnstiles, they could’ve just hired a consultant from Japan or the UK.

    They could’ve just asked them for advice on what needed to be done, what issues has to be taken care of, and what other problems they might face in the future by asking transit agencies that have more experience than Metro.

    Now TAP is just a huge mess because Metro lacked any foresight on how to tackle this issue.

    And Metro wonders why we hate taxes for public transit issues? It’s because they keep on wasting them!!

    America has no idea what to do with public transit. We have no expertise in running them efficiently. We’d be better off headhunting Japanese and the British transit officials to head and fix our broken public transit system.

  20. Steve,

    That’s a good point. Some vinyl signs that say “TAP cards sold here” above the ticket vending machines (TVMs) would be useful.


    Carter Rubin
    Contributing Writer, The Source.

  21. Wow, you mean to tell me that I’ve missed the fact that TAP cards ARE sold in the stations? Good to know… but I think it should be more clearly marked or something. I consider myself fairly “transit-literate” and able to figure out how these systems work, but have never noticed that (and when looking on Metro.net to find a TAP card, they always send you to a retailer or customer service center–why not say they’re in the stations?).

    I’ll be heading back to the TVM area at Union Station tonight to check it out again. Thanks for the heads up.

  22. What an awful mess for a system that offers zero positive benefit for riders. The fare gates are a giant waste of time, money and effort.

  23. @the dude abides (and everyone else), please disregard my last suggestion of locking turnstiles before ticket machines. it was not well thought out.

  24. And are there plans to add turnstiles to all metro rail stations? Because I think only a few gold, blue, and green line stations even have them at all… For consistency’s sake, turnstiles should be at all rail stations, giving a unity to the system. Why should one rail line be easier than another to evade fares?…

  25. Providing actual incentives to use TAP would be welcomed too, like cheapper fares than paying cash as it is with Boston’s CharlieCard or London’s OysterCard.

  26. These days most “paper tickets” are either magnetized (Tokyo, for example) or they have TAP technology in them. The days of purely paper tickets are over.

    If TAP would get an online, automatic autoload function, and drop the artificial expiration date (or at least length it) there would be far fewer reasons to print “paper”.

    Convert Metrolink and the munis and you’d have no reason at all.

    And a TAP card would still be cheaper than a smart phone, although I would not be opposed to allowing smart phone access to the TAP system.

  27. What about TAP cards that are set to expire? That has to be addressed too because I know of no other agency that puts a software coded expiration date on the card that only lasts for two years before forced to pay another $2 for another set of card.

    What if I had $50 remaining on my expired TAP card? Do I lose out on $50?

  28. @Erik G. BART may accept paper passes, but MUNI doesn’t in the Market Street subway. There solution was fairly simple. A paper pass with TAP tech in it. This is what Metro is going to introduce. TAP isn’t the problem, it is the implementation that has people pulling out their hair.

    Oh! I wanted to add the current vending machines require you either put a pass or cash amount on the card. You can’t purchase one by itself. This needs to be fixed.

    These problems aren’t hard to nail down. Metrolink/Metro just better start posting their solutions ASAP so that the accompanying problems get figured out. (My prediction is a TAP EZ-pass to accompany the Metrolink paper pass OR a Metrolink special TAP with a sticker, something must be worked out before the gates locked) Personally I won’t mind Tapping, but it needs to ensure that I am able to use my transfers just like I am now. I don’t want to have to look for an attendent if i happen to go to one of the Testing Locked Turn style Stations.

  29. “Why not put locked turnstiles before the ticket vending machines? Then people are basically forced to buy a ticket.”

    That doesn’t make sense. If they are before the machines and locked how do you get to the machines to unlock them? Were you being ironic?

    The current vending solution seems fine. and yes they do sell TAP at from what I can tell 1 machine per bank. I would like all machines to sell TAP because there is always one machine that doesn’t work or is not accepting credit cards etc. I had to go to Union Station to buy tap cards when the machine at Pershing Square did not accept my CC.

  30. Why not put locked turnstiles before the ticket vending machines? Then people are basically forced to buy a ticket.

  31. TAP cards ARE available from Metro Vending Machines at Union Station at both Red/Purple Line entrances and at the Gold Line entrance at the Tunnel Level (Track 1&2). Not all the machines at those locations offer TAP Cards but are some that do (They have a different color at the top of the machine)

  32. The real important thing is the make sure that non-regular riders will have access to a TAP card in the future. If the gates are locked and only accept TAP, there better be TAP vending machines in the stations.

    I live close to Union Station and even there wasn’t able to get a TAP card when I needed it because it was after Metro HQ’s business hours. I had to go to Ralph’s grocery store to get the card. Sure, I can reload it at the stations, but you need to be able to get it at one too.

  33. I’m glad that they are locking the turnstiles.

    Metrolink needs to get with the program, and so does Santa Monica, Long Beach and all the provincial munis.

    If they have to staff the stations, that’s an extra pair of eyes to watch for troublemakers; an extra person to answer rookie/ newbie questions.

    If people hop the gates — book ’em, Danno.

  34. “Before closure testing can begin, Metrolink and EZ Transit Pass passengers will need to be provided with TAP-enabled cards”

    What exactly does this mean? I don’t see Metrolink tossing out the money to pay for brand new vending machines at all its stations just because Metro acts like TAP is some regional fare panacea (even though it’s caused more problems than solutions).

  35. Why didn’t they just install turnstiles/faregates that accepts BOTH TAP and paper tickets/passes like, oh, PRETTY MUCH ALMOST EVERY OTHER TRANSIT AGENCY IN THE WORLD!?

    BART’s fare gates accepts both paper passes and the Clipper Card. So does MBTA’s fare gates, both Charlie Passes and the Charlie Card. The Japanese train stations’ fare gates accept both Suica and paper tickets. London Underground allows both paper tickets and the Oyster Card at their fare gates as well.

    Why does Metro have to continue try to re-invent the wheel by doing single use stuff like “we can only accept TAP at faregates instead of ‘hey, let’s make the common sense approach of installing one that accepts both.’ ”

  36. “at some point, all the paper needs to go away.”

    Here’s a better idea: Make the turnstiles go away.

    Surely they still have some value auctioned off on the used market? SF MUNI might be interested. How about a TAP Staff Report examining this possibility?

    Because in order to make “the paper go away”, LA Metro will need to staff all stations with turnstiles 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and that is going to eat up a chunk of budget cash leading to who knows how many bus routes slashed.

  37. Wait, so there will be people to Tap Metrolink/EZ people in or will they be provided with special TAP cards? Or is it both and this is just the precursor to the actual locked testing? Kinda confusing.

    – A Metrolink reliant rider.

  38. More than once, my TAP card has given me the message that I need to add a pass in spite of fact that I did add full month pass and have receipt. When I call TAP they confirm I had valid pass and told me to bring receipt just in case. My question what am I supposed to do if sometime in future my TAP card is not working? I refuse to pay for even a one-way pass when I already paid. Am I supposed to hop over the locked gates?

  39. After the gates are locked will the emergency exit door alarm get turned on?

    People will only hop the turnstile or walk in and out of the emergency door after they are locked, perhaps Metro will start staffing stations?

    Eventually Metro will have to spend $30 million for this: http://bit.ly/pwHNw1