Metro Board moves to lock gates at Metro Rail stations within next six months

The Board approved a motion by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky asking Metro staff to plan to lock the gates at Metro Rail stations within the next five or six months.

“I think the evidence is resounding and clear — there are a lot of people who have been avoiding paying their fares,” said Yaroslavsky. “We’re talking about millions of dollars here” in terms of lost revenue.

Yaroslavsky also disputed previous reports suggesting the fare evasion rate is as low as three percent.

Metro tested locking the gates at a variety of subway stations last year. Here’s a staff report about the tests — in which Metro staff said that revenues greatly increased when the gates were locked.

The Metro Board also approved a motion by L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar to establish a working group of three TAP-enabled muni bus operators, three non-TAP enabled munis and Metro executive staff. The group will be charged with solving issues that are preventing some agencies from adopting TAP cards as a form of fare payment.

The more agencies that use TAP, of course, the easier it will be to have a regional fare system and to ensure that all passengers get through gates on the Metro system.

Metro is still working with Metrolink and other agencies to make commuter rail and EZ passes TAP-enabled. We’ll have more details in the coming weeks. 

39 replies

  1. @Erik G.
    If budget and funding is an issue to staff people at stations, then Metro should again, follow the examples of zillions of other transit agencies on how they found other ways to earn additional revenue to hire and staff people.

    Many have brought up good ideas for this, including adding more station services and amenities like newspaper stands, convenience stores, and retailers INSIDE the station. They add more eyes for additional layer of security, it helps the local economy, it creates jobs, they bring in additional revenue to Metro in forms of rental income and profit sharing.

    For every question Metro has, places like Tokyo, Taipei, and Hong Kong has had the answers for decades. Go ask them for advice.

    Metro: “What about people with no hands?”
    Answer: “Go ask Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong on how they tackle with that issue”

    Metro: “They added station staff to deal with that but we don’t have funding to do this. Where is the funding going to come from?”
    Answer: “Go ask Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong how they found additional revenue earning opportunities to hire more staff.”

    Metro: “What about…”
    Answer: “Go ask Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong…”

  2. @ Mark Panitz: The “zillions of other transit agencies that have turnstiles” that Steven P. refers to also staff each station. Metro does not have that budgeted in the turnstile-debacle. If Metro has to staff full time the 40-odd stations that have turnstiles, other services will have to be cut; maybe your bus?

    You really ought to ask
    Zev Yaroslavsky
    821 Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration
    500 West Temple Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90012
    T (213) 974-3333
    F (213) 625-7360

    Because as best I can tell, you and other disabled customers of Metro are about to return to the status of second-class citizens.

  3. “Many of us that you don’t see tapping do so because we have paper passes that you do not tap (e.g. EZ Pass). Otherwise, there will be many of us with valid fares that cannot access the system because we do not have TAP cards.”

    And I’m not purchasing a TAP card to participate in this debacle.

  4. @CC – I realized after I submitted my first comment that I should have mentioned the chip, in addition to or instead of the mag stripe.

    Can a chip just be added to the EZ Pass? That way you tap where necessary, or else show the pass to the bus driver or conductor. Admittedly, I have not actually seen an EZ Pass yet – I have just started riding the bus, and will purchase my first pass this weekend. If it’s just a piece of paper, it could be reinforced or lightly laminated to protect the chip …

  5. The body of the post is clear Metro is convening a “working group” of 4 LA County Non-TAP “munis” and 4 TAP Compliant agencies to see what it would take to get the rest of the LA County agencies to commit to TAP. Once that happens EZ Pass can go on TAP as it a Metro Fare Product.

    Metrolink is more complex as it serves six SOCAL counties and each county’s transit authority or district has or is planing a smartcard fare product and Metrolink offers transfer to those agencies as well so they my need to accept 6 differernt smart card one for each county agency.

    Too bad Transit Smartcards were no statutorily required to compatible across California as the the FasTrack for bridges and toll roads were. Because of the requirement a FasTrack transceiver issued by the Bay Area MTC/Toll Authority can be used on a the NORCAL Toll Bridges and the OC Toll Roads and vice versa.

  6. A better way TAP could’ve been implemented is to implement compatibility and interchangeability of many different RFID systems to be shared with different municipal agencies own systems, similar to how Suica is accepted at PASMO locations and vice-versa.

    This would’ve solved the issue of spending so much time bringing everyone on board TAP and instead, where Santa Monica’s own RFID card program would be used interchangeably on Metro and Culver City’s TAP and vice-versa, Metrolink’s own RFID program could’ve been used for both TAP to connect with Metro and even with San Diego’s NCTD Coaster.

    These cards are made by the same company, Cubic, anyway; compatibility issues of different transit agencies should be possible. In that light even the San Diego Compass Card and San Francisco’s Clipper Cards can interchangeably work with TAP here in LA and vice-versa.

  7. I use the EZ Pass w/o TAP and it works really well. If you close the gates, you need to staff the stations with agents until the county gets everyone on board w/TAP.

  8. I buy an EZ Pass every month. I use the subway, Culver City, Santa Monica and DASH buses. I’m not willing to use TAP until the Santa Monica bus system gets on board. I don’t want to worry about having the right change, getting the right transfer, etc.

  9. The problem I noticed is the paper tickets. I have seen some people try to tap the paper tickets thinking they would tap. Hopefully they can have some sort of rfid-paper.

  10. Where is this 4% figure coming from? If it’s from the staff report found here: ( ), you can see that it has EZ Passes as 4% but it measures Metrolink separately at 8%. That’s at least 12% which would be completely stuck if the gates were locked tomorrow. It’s also important to keep in mind this was almost entirely measured during non-peak hours at stations where Metrolink transfers would be underrepresented. I can easily imagine the same figure being significantly higher if they did a full count during peak period at Union Station.

  11. OK, lets double the amount of fare evaders, that’s still a 95% compliance rate.

    Oh, well, the ridership numbers on Metro rail sure are going to get interesting.
    Will the “18-22%” more tickets (see locking test report page 4 about 7th/Metro and NoHo) actually get sold or will those “18-22%” find another way to get around or just not make the trip?

    Can LA Metro afford to take an 18-22% hit in ridership numbers being used to demonstrate the success of Metro Rail?

  12. So Zev says that the loss of $4 million indicates a “failure” of the honor system…

    Let’s see, 8.2 million riders a month on rail equals 98.4 million riders a year.
    “$4 million” worth of $1.50 fares is 2.6 million fare-evaders.
    2.6m into 98.4m is 2.6% of passengers dodging fares.
    Or 97.4% who are paying.
    97.4% is a failure?
    (P.S. New York estimates a 1.5% fare evasion rate with their turnstiles and token clerks)

    • I didn’t hear anyone say that at today’s meeting.

      I think it’s hard to work backwards with that number and figure out fare evasion. Remember — there are many different types of fares.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  13. The same people who were against locking of the gates also said “fare evasion accounts to ONLY 3% of all riders” with no data whatsoever to back that claim. And look how easily the tables turn when there is actual data. Now the EZ pass riders say 4% is STILL a lot when opponents to locked gates said fare evasion is ONLY 3%.

    Metro, this is exactly why you should start collecting data more often than basing on assumptions. You guys have had 22 years to do all the data collecting to do this, yet you only waited until billions of tax dollars went down the drain to keeping the trains running by sucking taxpayer dollars to subsidize the system from freeloaders.

    Metro should seriously start answering the questions that many have been making. They are all good questions that Metro purposely avoids answering because there’s really no hard data to back their claims.

    First off, how much of our taxpayer dollars was wasted all these years from uncollected fares? And how are you guys going to make it up to us to give us that money back? I hear lots of companies are slashing the pays of their employees these days. How about giving us TAP riders more incentives as a way of saying “we’re sorry we’ve put faith in the honor system, it was a stupid idea.” Cheaper fares at the cost of slashing Metro employees’ pay and pensions by the same amount of uncollected fares for the next 22 years sounds like a great idea to me.

  14. @Mark Panitz

    So, why can’t you ask the zillions of other transit agencies that have turnstiles on how they handle that? What are we paying you guys with our taxes for?

  15. I”m on the metro Accessibly advisory committee

    the problem that come up what if the person doesn’t
    have any hands? he cant very tap the card
    they will need to have staff to assist at those stations

  16. As a LIFETIME METRO and predecessors user, I am waiting for what explanation Steve Hymon can come up with.

    I am one of the original EZ Pass users and I do have a TAP card unused due to only 8 agencies using such and even that isn’t consistent between agencies.

    I agree with many of the comments above and await more explanation on TAP (if that is possible).

  17. Q: How long does it take Metro to figure out that fare evasion is rampant?
    A: 22 years (Blue Line opened in 1990)

    Q: How long does it take Metro to figure out how to lock the gates?
    A: Six months.

    And you wonder why America is the laughing stock of the world.

  18. Which agency is in charge of printing the EZ pass? Can’t its format just be changed so that it has a mag stripe?

  19. How nice FrankM, to literally throw Metrolink riders under the Metro bus. Sheesh. 4% is STILL a lot of riders. You’re right, Metrolink is mostly to blame. We should probably all go down and do a little “Occupy Metrolink” to get our point across. Get on board, Metrolink! I would WELCOME a TAP card, especially if I could just recharge it online every month.

    But let’s not throw the Metrolink riders under the Metro bus.

  20. Have EZ pass makes it easier riding training between Long Beach to Los
    Angeles via Blue Line. Long Beach Transit does not recognize MTA Tap, so what is one to do if certain transit companies do not accept Tap card?

  21. I’m glad that they are doing this.

    A deadline is exactly what Metro needs to focus its attention on the TAP card, on the turnstiles and especially on convincing other transit agencies to stop with the regional bureaucratic nonsense and start working together.

    Too bad about the EZ Pass, but everyone has been dragging their feet on TAP for ages now. People have had plenty of time to adapt.

    To all Los Angeles transit riders, I would highly suggest getting a TAP card now.

  22. @ Gina: Some of them are travelling with Metrolink tickets, EZ Passes or transfers from agencies that haven’t joined TAP.

  23. @CSmith

    Answer: From the Metro staff report it states

    “EZ passes accounted for 4%”

    EZ pass riders only account for a small percentage of riders of the Metro system. Why should Metro have to be held hostage and keep losing money to freeloaders for the sake of the 4%?

    It’s Metrolink’s fault for using outdated paper passes and not moving to TAP when Metro has been reaching out to them for years to get onboard with TAP. You should be complaining to Metrolink, not Metro.

  24. Subject: Locking Metro Gates:
    Question: How do people with “EZ passes” (i.e. Metrolink monthly passes) get thru the locked gates to ride the Metro trains.

    • Hi everyone;

      I know that many of you understandably have questions about getting through the gates with Metrolink tickets and EZ passes. I also know that this is something that Metro staff has been working on and I’m working with staff to get a post up soon explaining this. Thanks much for your interest and patience while I get the info together,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  25. What about people who buy and use the $84 EZ Multi Region Pass? These things don’t have chips or mag-stripes. Many people who go through the gates have valid proof of fare payment this way, but no way for the gate to register it. You folks should have also installed laser scanners to read the bar codes on the back. I think Zev is blowing smoke again, just like when the first major fare hike happened and the transfers were eliminated, claiming Metro was losing money, and there were so many fare boxes with bags over them on buses that were supposedly broken and giving out “free” rides because they were unable to collect fares and creating an artificial operational cost deficit during the weeks leading up to that. This is going to wind up a worse fiasco than the old Zone Fare debacle.

  26. That is a great idea, but what about those of us who have the EZ pass? Will the next five to six months see all paper passes on a tap card? If not, then what is the purpose?

  27. Unless the MTA will provide TAP readers for the other bus companies, this is unrealistic. Many of us that you don’t see tapping do so because we have paper passes that you do not tap (e.g. EZ Pass). Otherwise, there will be many of us with valid fares that cannot access the system because we do not have TAP cards.

  28. The biggest problem will be the open-air platforms along the Blue and Gold Lines. I rarely see anyone tapping in or actually buying tickets at any given time at those stations. How will gates be locked in those places? Those stations will need a serious redesign to ensure people go through the fare check machine instead of easily bypassing them through other means.

    IMO, installing turnstiles for the open-air design of the light rail platforms will end up just like the Maginot Line. The French spent millions in fortifying their borders along the French-German border to prevent Nazi Germany from invading France. What did the Germans do? They just went around the Maginot Line by invading The Netherlands and Belgium.

    That’s what freeloaders are going to do. They’re just going to bypass it as the open-air platforms are easy to get onto.

  29. My employer provides tokens at a discount. 18 days a month with no transfers, tokens are most cost effective. What is the plan?

  30. Will I be able to put my $250 MetroLink monthly pass on a TAP card to ride Metro Rail?

  31. I don’t think the 5-6 month time frame is realistic but I do think this is a good idea. Discouraging fare evasion on metro will make it safer in the long run.

  32. Why spend SIX MONTHS implementing something that should be done NOW? This is beyond stupid!

  33. It’s about time. Whomever that thought the open honor system would work should have their heads examined. My taxes should not be used to subsidize freeloaders. Now it’ll be interesting to see how much revenue increase Metro will see after the gates are locked.

    Next up on the agenda: replacing inefficient “locked/check/open” turnstiles

    With a more efficient and seamless “remain open/check/pass through or shut” speed gates which smoothen passenger flow

  34. For every 20 people I see herding through the gates, I only hear 2 or 3 taps. These people look like they can afford the fare. Please enforce the rules to make it fair for those of us who abide by the rules.

  35. Thats fine and all,BUT…
    1. What about one way paper tickets? Will they be able to have a chip that TAP can recognize? Or will Metro continue to have some areas unlocked? That will still negate the process

    2. Can Metrolink be put on TAP?