Gate locking tests today at 7th/Metro station

Metro has been testing locking the gates today at 7th/Metro station for the Blue Line, Red Line and Purple Line in downtown L.A. Testing is scheduled to continue until 4 p.m. and Metro personnel are on hand to help everyone get through the gates whether or not they have TAP cards.

This is part of the ongoing testing of locking the gates at Metro Rail stations. The gates were temporarily locked at several other stations this past fall.

Categories: Projects, Service Alerts

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20 replies

  1. Along with the gates of which I have no issue with, I think Metro also needs to address key issues that I and I’m sure others are dealing with as regular riders.

    1)Easier Fare rollout-No daily or weekly EZPass available, there are times I have no choice but to take a car if traveling to client site, so not always going to buy a monthly pass. The TAP has to be loaded for Foothill, then loaded for Metro, etc, confusing.

    2)More cars on the green line, typically only 2, and every 10 minutes if you’re lucky, during rush hour, would love to see LA Metro execs forced to ride daily in a car where you can barely move. Other lines are typically ok.

    3)Bikes-folks ignore the (no bike) areas and just jam in there, not much an issue on Blue and Red Lines, but a problem on the Green and Gold lines.

    But back to the topic here, I pay my $ to use Metro so that it’s funded and maintained, I don’t think it’s fair for others to skip their responsibility. I think if the gates are activated maybe we it’ll increase revenue to focus on other things, expansions, cleaner cars, happier conductors (some of them seem angry at the world, or just a bit frustrated).

    • Hi everyone;

      To answer some questions:

      1. There will be gates at the three entrances to the 7th/Metro station but there won’t be gates between the Red/Purple and Blue Line platforms. Instead there will be TAP validators that customers will use when transferring between the lines.

      2. Metro is working on a duel purpose EZ Pass that is a TAP card that can be used on Metro. The card will also have a sticker that can be attached to it for use on agencies that don’t have TAP.

      Hope that helps,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. @Bob

    As for maintenance costs of the turnstiles or faregates, I agree that Metro did a poor job of choosing them when they could’ve gone with Japanese style speed gates that accept both paper passes and contact cards, who run a different concept than the “stop-check-go” method that hinder traffic flow and in the end, require higher maintenance costs.

    The “stop-check-go” faregates and turnstiles LA Metro has installed are prone to higher wear and tear because the gates/handlebars constantly open/close (lock/unlock) everytime

    In contrast, the pass through Japanese style speed gates have far less maintenance need as the gates remain open to keep traffic moving; they and only close when necessary. Japanese fare gates are more of a “reaction” gate where so long as it the rider does nothing wrong, it does nothing and the gates remain open for riders to keep flowing through. It only reacts when the rider tries to pull off a stunt like going through the gate without tapping or having an improper ticket. Hence, since the gate doesn’t close as much, there is less wear and tear to the machine, saving substantially in maintenance costs.

    • Hi Yumi;

      This is your third comment on this post. I will not approve any more on this post. The comments section is intended to be open to all readers and, as I have explained before, not just the domain of a few readers.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. Several thoughts to Frank M. and Steve Hymon:
    1. Those deputies who are supposed to be checking fares are there for other reasons — such as security. My guess is that their numbers aren’t going to decrease substantially, so your estimate of “savings” on installing gates in that regard is somewhat overblown.
    2. If deputies would actually check for tickets and passes, the number of fare evaders (whatever that number actually is) would certainly go down. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen someone check for tickets (except during gate-locking tests) and my TAP card has NEVER been scanned to see if I actually tapped it.
    3. Metro has never given us the real cost of this project — including such things as interest on the money being spent. Moreover, I’ve never seen anyone put a price tag on the number of people that it will take to repair broken gates and ticket machines (I certainly hope they’re more reliable than the escalators and elevators)
    4. Another cost is going to be for people who will have to be at the station at least some of the time to assist people (including visitors) who will need help in understanding how the system works. Or is Metro expecting good-hearted citizens to help befuddled people with navigation.

  4. The honor system was a cheaper way to implement rail transit and it must’ve been a cost effective way to start up rail transit in LA when ridership numbers are low. Random fare checks was all that was needed. Why go through all the hassle of installing fare gates or using distance fares when only a few Angelinos uses them? Everybody else just drives cars in LA! Or that was the thought in the days of expecting $1 per gallon gas would remain at $1 forever.

    But we live in different times now. What used to be low ridership numbers are beginning to become a true alternative for commuters due to higher gas prices. LA Metro is breaking record ridership numbers year after year and extensive expansion plans are now in motion from 30/10. As the demand for rail transit increases, the fare structure and fare checking methods have to grow and adapt to fit the increasing demands as well.

    Ridership numbers on the San Diego Trolley still warrant an open honor system; they only average less than 100,000 passengers per weekday. LA Metro on the other hand, serves four times as that and its bound to increase more as more stations and lines are added. There is a point where rail transit ridership numbers far exceed the previous solution of hiring more officers doing random checks and LA Metro is already at that point now.

    It is far better to fix the fare system and fare checking methods now when we still have few lines and few stations to worry about rather than wait another 30 years to fix it across the entire system map at billions of more tax dollars that’ll eventually encompass more lines and more stations.

  5. We need distance-based fares and a TAP-in, TAP-out system. As in: TAP in, either at a fare gate or at a TAP pylon when you arrive at a station.
    Transfers shouldn’t require TAP-ping at all. TAP out when you leave the system, either via a fare gate or a TAP pylon.
    And preferably, fare gates as much as possible, based on the Japanese system or even San Francisco’s.

  6. I remember the first time I came to LA (5 years ago) and I was baffled at the lack of gates, and watched people just walk in. It didn’t make sense to me. Having lived in Philly, Boston, and spent oodles of time in NYC, the lack of gates seems so strange. Now that I live here, I still think it’s strange. Honor-based systems may work in countries like Germany, but as someone who rides the metro a lot (I’ll always take the train over driving around town if I can), I see people all the time just passing through and have seen officers catch a few people. For a system with big plans (that I love, btw), I would think in the end, gates will pay for themselves. You have to assume that increased ridership is inexorable, especially with the expansion plans, so fears that gates would drive people away seem unfounded, or at least those losses would have minimal financial impact.

  7. You have to start wondering if the major opponents against fare gates happen to be freeloaders themselves as they find out there’s no such thing as free lunch anymore.

    Earth to freeloaders: nothing is free in this world. If you ride for free, taxpayers pay for it. If you get caught, you may get slapped a fine, but having that officer presence there to catch you is burdened by us taxpayers.

    And being a taxpayer, I’m more than happy to find a more efficient way to handle fare checks than hiring hundreds of more officers who get paid $50,000 a year doing nothing but random fare checks. At the same price it costs to hire an officer and pay them $50,000 year after year, it’s much better to install a fare gate that can do that same job.

    Besides, the installation cost of a fare gate far outweighs the costs of paying for hundreds of officers at a labor cost of $50,000 year after year whose sole job is to check fares for ever increasing transit ridership numbers. If my taxes are paying officers for $50,000 a year, I’d want them catching murderers like the one who killed that poor Giants fan at Dodgers Stadium, not going after fare evasion which can be handled more efficiently by a machine.

    So I’m glad that LA Metro is finally moving ahead to test lock up those turnstiles. Perhaps we can now see real data on how many people are really paying for their fares. What I wished LA Metro would’ve done however, is to have them install those Japanese style speed gates than the Cubic turnstiles that we have. At least that way we could’ve avoided the mess of those turnstiles being TAP only since the Japanese ones could handle both paper passes and TAP.

  8. @Erik G.

    Percentage numbers give false perceptions.

    2% of total annual ridership at NYMTA is GREATER than 4% of total annual ridership numbers in LA Metro because NYMTA handles A LOT MORE transit riders than LA Metro.

    NYMTA: 1.6 BILLION transit riders in 2010 x 2% = 32 million riders not paying their fares. 32 million x $2.25 = $72 million in lost revenue for 2010.

    LA Metro: approx 127 million riders in 2010 x 4% = $5 million in lost revenue for 2010.

    Looking at percentages, it gives you the false perception that there’s only 2% difference. When look at the transit ridership number difference, NYMTA is losing out $72 million per year at a 2% fare evasion rate versus $5 million per year at LA Metro at a 4% fare evasion rate (which even then the 4% rate is a guess-timate at best).

    @Fare Gates Unnecessary

    Continued reliance on officers alone does not add to any safety or relieve taxpayer of the burden.

    In all things considered, transit ridership numbers here in LA will continue to rise as gas prices increase. With more ridership numbers, adding more officers will become more of a detriment to taxpayers than they can handle. An officer would be better off patroling the station for illegal activity than wasting time just checking fares for riders which a machine can do.

    San Diego Trolley argument is moot; LA Metro handles more riders than the San Diego Trolley. As ridership number rise, it is inevitable that a more efficient means of fare checks has to be implemented than relying on random officer checks.

    • I think it’s worth pointing out that there have been different estimates of fare evasion on the Metro system over the years. As discussed at a Board meeting last fall, new data is being gathered as part of the gate-locking tests and it will be interesting to see those numbers. When the deputies check fares on Metro Rail — at least the checks I’ve witnessed — it seems like they always find someone who doesn’t have a paper ticket or who didn’t TAP.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  9. I suggest distance based fares and a system like BART. Please study that system in more detail.

  10. “Had they stuck to a fare gate system from the start like every other city in the world to begin with, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

    FALSE, both because many systems use proof-of-payment (“honor system”); I don’t hear people complaining about the San Diego Trolley, for a nearby example.

    FALSE too because the fare gates were installed as a way to lock TAP in. Without sinking millions of dollars into fare gates, with all the problems TAP was having, it was quite possible that Metro could have ditched TAP altogether. Now we are stuck paying far more for the cost of implementing (1) TAP and (2) fare gates than the revenue lost from nonpayment. Remember, the idea was to allocate some of the savings from not having fare gates into paying for law enforcement to keep the system safe, which has mostly worked.

  11. Frank,

    LA Metro’s own stats show that 4% of passengers do not pay. That was with no turnstiles either on Subway (Red/Purple) or Light Rail(Everything else). Keep in mind that not all the Light Rail stations will ever get turnstiles

    In New York City, where they have some serious turnstiles and attendants at all their Subway stations, they have about 2% of passengers not paying (jumping turnstiles!). (There’s no Light Rail in New York City)

    So again, LA Metro is spending huge amounts of money to try to capture 2% of the total ridership that does not pay and won’t jump the turnstiles. Except, guess what happens when you put up these expensive turnstiles? That group might now pay, but lets suppose half of them take up another mode of transportation? So now you’ve spent tens of millions of dollars to capture (maybe) the 1% that did not pay before. Does that make economic sense?

    Tens of millions of dollars that could be spent on service extensions and improvements? And that figure assumes the stations don’t get staffed too.

  12. Analogous question to the above! Let us say that one wants to travel from Long Beach via Blue Line to Culver City via Expo Line: at the Pico Blvd. station, one merely needs to cross the platform to make the transfer. Right? This would count as two (2) separate fares? Would it be necessary to re-TAP one’s card at the Pico Blvd. station just to wait for the other line going the opposite direction?

    Needless to say, we still don’t know what type of transfer configuration the 7th/Metro station will have to enable one to go from Long Beach to Culver City.

  13. Lack of foresights like these is the reason why LA Metro is always dependent on tax dollars.

    Had they stuck to a fare gate system from the start like every other city in the world to begin with, we wouldn’t be in this mess. But no, we like being different and trying to reinvent the wheel, and it’s much more cheaper to keep it as a proof-of-payment honor system.

    Then twenty years later we realized that it wasn’t such a brilliant idea after all, we then magically have the enlightened moment to realize the rationale of why other cities have been using fare gates, and then we end up paying more tax dollars to fix it. Brilliant!

    With so many things wrong, you have to start wondering if LA Metro is purposely doing these as a way so that we continuously get screwed with taxes:

    1. Purposely do it wrong and call it “we like to do things differently in LA”
    2. Oops, that wasn’t a brilliant idea after all. We need taxes to fix it now, but it’s going to cost us billions more in taxes because we have more stations now.
    3. Repeat from step 1.

  14. How is the need to install turnstiles between the upper platform red/purple metro line and the lower level platform going to be addressed? Suppose I board at Wilshire/Western and then xfer at Wilshire/Vermont and go downstairs to a Northbound Red Line, you don’t expect anyone to go all the way up the Escalator and back just to tap in o_O! ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave…’

  15. Hopefully by doing like every other rapid transit system in the world does and having free transfers between rail lines. Not likely, for political reasons, but one can hope.

  16. How is the need to install turnstiles between the Subway and the Light Rail platforms going to be addressed?