Transportation headlines, Thursday, June 20

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 Transportation Headlines online newspaper, which you can also access via email subscription (visit the newspaper site) or RSS feed.

One legislative note worth making although I don't believe it received much news coverage: the state Assembly last week approved Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8 (by Bob Blumenfield) that would lower the threshold for transportation sales taxes from two-thirds to 55 percent. However, the amendment awaits action in the State Senate and that doesn't appear imminent in this legislative year. Blumenfield has been elected to the L.A. City Council and will be sworn in on July 1.

Doing away with rail honor system is common sense (L.A. Times)

The author of this opinion piece is pleased to see the gates latched at the entrances to the subway at Union Station, saying it's a sign that the county's rail system is growing up.

House GOP gets its knives out (D.C. Streetsblog)

The transportation subcommittee of the House's Appropriations Committee proposes 15 percent cuts to transportation funding in the next fiscal year, including a ban on funding high-speed rail in California and a two percent chop to the New Starts program that funds big transportation projects. Will this make it into law? Probably not, but always interesting to see the House's priorities, or lack thereof.

After Hollywood outcry, Spring Street bike lane to lose some paint (L.A. Times)

About 80 to 90 percent of the bright green paint on the 1.5-mile lane in downtown L.A. will be removed and replaced with dark green pain inside the lane's boundaries. The film industry says it will make it easier to film on Spring Street, a popular place to shoot.

On a completely unrelated note, I watched “The Dark Knight Rises” on cable the other night and realized that Bane's kangaroo court — with the Scarecrow as presiding judge — was filmed in Union Station's old ticket room. Very cool. Partially related to my unrelated note: is “Man of Steel” worth my $13 or did director Zack Snyder screw it up?


21 replies

  1. Eric R.

    That’s because you’re looking at it from an unlatched system on exit as it stands today. Currently, the getaway is too easy. Someone snatches phone on the train, gets off next stop, makes his getaway with no barriers stopping the criminal’s escape. The risk factor is too small for them to get caught, therefore that’s why they do their illegal activities.

    Now if you latch the gates on exit and have officers stationed there at the gates, it prevents an easy escape route. If crime occurs within the system, the criminal still has to make his getaway, but his getaway is burdened more with latched gates on exit as well as officer presence at the gates. The criminal’s risk of getting caught is increased dramatically under a entry and exit latched system with officer presence at the turnstiles. He has to enter a secure area, can’t get on without paying or TAP-in. The area past the turnstiles is a secure zone, including the system. Said system has video cameras. Can’t get out of the system without TAP-out and can’t jump over because of officer presence. TAP-in and TAP-out also provides data collection to find out who the TAP card was issued to aid the capture of the criminal at his point of entry and exit.

    The point is to add more hurdles to make it tougher for criminals to do their crimes, make their escape, and to make them think twice about doing their misdeeds. And this works all over the world. Why do you think there are no cops roaming around the trains in London and Tokyo and instead, they’re stationed only at the gates of each station?

  2. Steve, I truly hope you are right! Even if they’re only checking fares, having actual law enforcement officers moving around the system is an excellent deterrent to crime. I know you know that, I just hope the Metro Board of Directors remembers it as well when it comes time for a renewal of the Sherriffs contract to provide security on Metro.

  3. DTLA Office Worker:
    I *like* having law enforcement randomly moving around on the trains. If criminals know there’s not going to be law enforcement anywhere but the turnstiles, what do you think will happen to crime on the system? I don’t consider passenger safety to be a “big waste of taxpayer money.”

    • Hi Eric;

      I’m not aware of any plan to reduce law enforcement on the Metro system. Rather, I think the agency is hoping that having gates will mean that officers don’t have to spend as much time in some places checking fares.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. HarryKerryJ: I’m the person who initially made the comment you’re talking about, and… well, I’m going to ask you to go back and read it again, because it was actually intended as satire. I hope you will see it on second reading.

    My point was that I think the gate-latching is a precursor to reducing law enforcement on the system. And that this is a bad thing, and will reduce passenger safety. I guess my mistake was trying to couch that in terms of a joke about how people should stop whining about it.

    I guess I’ve forgotten that political discourse in this country is so utterly and completely broken that even the silliest, most over-the-top statement is taken as genuine.

  5. Erik,

    “My stance against the turnstiles has always been due to their inability to pay for themselves…”

    New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, London, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, and many many cities all work perfectly fine with them. I don’t see New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong going into the massive spiral into third world country status. I really don’t know what you’re trying to prove here, but you can continue to keep repeating whatever you want to believe, but there is no denying that faregates are in use all over the world and they have not lead them to this “disasterous outcome” that you believe is going to happen.

    Relax. The world will be here tomorrow. Metro will be running tomorrow. LA will be as strong and full of life tomorrow. Keep repeating yourself, “everything is going to be ok.” It will. All you need to do is let the people who know best do their job. You are not an expert at this. If you really believe that faregates and turnstiles are not the answer, perhaps you should join and go work for Metro.

    R Camino,

    I think I like your idea. Rather than having officers roaming randomly around all over the place using up our tax dollars, all they have to do is be at the exits looking for those who jump the gates as they try to exit. That’s a big cost savings than spending lots of money trying to do random fare checks within the system, because the officers will be stationary at one location using the latched fare gates as they exit as a tool to find the cheaters who tried to game the system.

    You enter, you TAP, therefore you’ve paid. No need to fare check onboard, waste of tax money. Those that did will TAP out and be let out by latching the gates. The gates will “know” that $1.50 or a pass is loaded and it was TAP-ed in, so the gates will unlock letting them out.

    But those who entered and rode the system for free from unlatched stations, you can catch them at the exit. Those that don’t have a TAP card, or try to TAP out when there’s no TAP in data recorded in the TAP card, will not be let out. They will be caught right there with no lame excuse.

    Metro should look at this idea. If all the stations cannot be latched, we should at least look into latching the gates at the exits where possible. TAP in on entry, TAP out on exit. Sounds like a common sense idea to me.

  6. I think its ridiculous that there are some people that are still complaining about these latched gates. The vast majority of the people wanted a latched system because they don’t want to subsidize the fare cheaters. That’s why our elected officials acted upon that. And now it’s a done deal. End of story. What’s there to discuss?

    If the small minority don’t like this idea, they should be writing to their elected officials on why they think it’s a bad idea and that they should be reversed, not posting here.

    Besides, I think I speak for everyone that the more they try to open their mouth, the more ridiculous these people sound. They must be the same minority of people who think more guns are the answer to a safer society or like how Obama is ruining everything. Get in with the times, man, jeez. You’re not helping us move forward, you’re keeping us back!

  7. Erik Griswold,

    “There will never be any print-from-home ticketing on Metro, nor will there be the ability to accept a smartphone bar code or SMS text response as paid fare. All of these methods of paying are able to be used by the proof-of-payment cities.”

    One can argue that those are also dying technologies that are to be supplanted in the near future by NFC smartphones and contactless credit cards.

    Why waste money on dying, old technologies (SMS? It’s all about email via 4G data now) that are costly to implement?

    We can skip all of those and prepare us for the future: total contactless payments using TAP, contactless credit cards (which is what London is moving to soon aboard both their zonal-fare Underground AND pay-per-ride buses), and NFC smartphones (which is what the Japanese have been doing over a decade ago).

    “Those of you who use Tokyo and London as examples forget that these countries have coordinated unified (and balanced) transportation policies, as well as broad political support for modes of transportation that are not cars or airplanes. This is something neither the USA or California can say they have.”

    Well, the British, Germans, and the Japanese make cars and have planes too. The Germans make Mercedes Benz, Porsche, and BMWs. The British make Aston Martins and Land Rovers. The Japanese build Toyotas, Hondas, Nissans, and Mitsubishis.

    You can’t take a high speed train from Tokyo to Okinawa for example. The Japanese also flies frequent 777s daily between Tokyo-Haneda and Sapporo-Chitose. Tokyo-Sapporo and Tokyo-Okinara are one of the most busiest and most heavily traveled routes for domestic Japan air travel.

    The Germans have the no-speed limit Autobahn, they invented the idea of freeways. Lufthansa is the biggest airline in Europe.

    So I doubt using the “the Europeans and the Japanese” take less emphasis on cars and planes as we do is a good argument. If they don’t care for the car, they wouldn’t be building them. They wouldn’t be building them if there is no strong domestic demand as well as export demand.

  8. My stance against the turnstiles has always been due to their inability to pay for themselves, and because with them, so many opportunities to make transportation more seamless in Southern California went away. Indeed, look at the additional costs that have been added to convert the Metrolink tickets and add the fancy squawk boxes, which I still do not see how a blind person will be able to use, so Metro may have opened itself up to further costs which we all pay.

    Even if we use the lowball figure of $50 million, that is about the cost of 100 new buses, or 15 new light-rail trains.

    Those of you who use Tokyo and London as examples forget that these countries have coordinated unified (and balanced) transportation policies, as well as broad political support for modes of transportation that are not cars or airplanes. This is something neither the USA or California can say they have.

    London has the Oyster card, but this is based on a ticketing system that long ago had been set up so that even a ticket from the tiniest town in Wales was issued on a magnetic-striped ticket that could also open the (Cubic) *faregates* that what is now Transport for London installed in the late 1980’s. Why? Because a train ticket in the UK can include a trip on the London Underground to get from station to station, to then continue the journey.

    And it is my understanding that the faregates in London can still accept these tickets, in addition to the newer RFID Oyster cards. One of the key mistakes that Metro made with the T.A.P. turnstiles was their inability to read anything but an RFID (T.A.P.) card.

    We in Los Angeles will never again be able to use a Laker or Dodger ticket to ride the subway for free on the day of the game (as Charger tickets are used in San Diego); We will never be able to present our same-day Amtrak ticket as paid fare (common practice in Germany); There will never be any print-from-home ticketing on Metro, nor will there be the ability to accept a smartphone bar code or SMS text response as paid fare. All of these methods of paying are able to be used by the proof-of-payment cities. They have led to increases in ridership. And any merchant will tell you that one of the most important things a business must do is make ease of payment a top priority.

  9. “Having only half of the stations in the system locked up is beyond stupidity.”

    Yup and the remaining stations can never be “turnstiled”. Google “Attractive Nuisance”.

  10. Irresponsible to say Metro Los Angeles is going off “honor” system. Proof of Payment still required at all times on entire system. Even if you have passed a turnstile, LASD can stop you & check fare. If you don’t have valid TAP card you will be fined

  11. HarryKerryJr.

    That’s all fine and dandy but, throughout this fare-gating discussion, all the anti-faregating naysayers was also childish by to try to derail these topics by bringing up cities like Phoenix, Denver, Oslo or Zagreb or whatever to prove that they are “other US” cities or “European” cities that don’t use faregates. But-but-but Phoenix doesn’t use fare gates! But-but-but Oslo doesn’t either! But-but-but…. Their “examples” are worthless pieces of information that have no credence or similarity to LA.

    It was childish for them to trying to prove theirpoint by bringing up cities that have very little resemblance to LA. LA is not like these cities. Our city has a big (and growing) population, spread out over a large area. Geographically, we are the only city the US that fits this bill. We are not Denver, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, New York, or Boston. LA is on a league on its own.

    Since there are no cities in the US that fits the features of LA, the only way left is to look outside of the US. If LA’s goal is to become a transit oriented city that covers a huge area with a large population, and no city in the US fits that description, we look to the world.

    And there two cities in the world that fit a similar description as LA: large area, large population – London and Tokyo, perhaps Seoul and Taipei as well to a certain extent. LA’s population is growing, and it’s going to get a lot more denser in the future. We have no more land left to develop, our city has expanded beyond its suburban outreach, the only way left is to become more denser. These are the realistic future of LA.

    And so, that’s what we should be doing – learning from the cities that have already mastered how to build a transit system in a city covering a wide area with a dense population. Focus our attention on what London does. Focus our attention on what Tokyo does. Those two cities are the masters and most experienced when it comes to building mass transit over a wide area with a large population. Weed out the noise and disregard everybody else. Keep it simple, straight to the point.

    London uses locked gates for their Underground. They use an OysterCard. TAP-in, TAP-out, deducts fare by number of zones traveled. Works fine.

    Tokyo uses locked gates for both their subways and rail lines. They use the Suica/PASMO card. TAP-in, TAP-out, deducts fare by distance traveled. Works fine.

    Two world class cities to sample from. These are the transit cities LA should look up to. Disregard every other city in the US and the world; they do not reflect the uniqueness of LA.

    So I say to all the anti-faregaters to stop sticking your head in the sand. LA is moving forward whether you like it or not. You either get onboard the train and go with us, or miss the train and get left behind. We move forward with change. If you don’t like change, keep watching Fox News and watch the O’Reilly Factor.

  12. The answer is simple. Just lock the gates on exit too.

    That way, when freeloaders think they got away with it on entry, they get a second shocker on exit that they have to jump the gates there too.

    But bam, they get busted because there’s an officer right there the moment they try to jump the gate at exit. And when questioned further, there’s no excuse: “why did you try to jump the gate at the exit?” “cuz I rode for free.” BUSTED! BOO-YAH!

    The more barriers there are, the more difficult it becomes for fare evaders.

    If you latch them on entry, it only makes sense to latch them on exit too. Most cities do exactly that, distance fare or no distance fare. I see no reason why we shouldn’t.

  13. The childish, hostile tone that now dominates this site’s postings. Quite a number of them who seem to not know the meaning of the word discussion. I can see the truly reasonable, thoughtful posters a fewer in presences. Calling people “crybabies” and telling people to “go back to [fill in the blank] as responses to those who may have legitimate complaints about safety, or anything else, demonstrates immature, school yard bully mentality rather than intelligent contributions to an important subject.

    Steve, it’s sad the Source become the “source” of hostile intolerance of others’ points of view on an important subject that affect everyone, yet from the low brow hateful responses, it seems those with a contrary thought are not welcome at the Source, an official site of the MTA. I’m glad to see my tax dollars are going to pay for this sandbox that some have claimed as their own, with those not in agreement not welcome. Well, Steve, I don’t envy your having to moderate this bunch. It must be heartbreaking.

    • Hi Harry;

      I am trying to find a balance between encourage public discussion of a taxpayer-funded agency and weeding out the comments that blatantly violate our comments policy.

      Unfortunately, many comment boards on the Internet quickly veer toward conflict and such. I’m not heartbroken, not am I surprised at the lack of quality of some of the comments posted here. Really, what do you expect? People don’t have to use their real names, they don’t have to spell things properly or use a semblance of good grammar.

      I try to walk the line and encourage a wide range of views and hope that the smarter commenters outnumber the others.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  14. Even if every station had latched turnstiles, you’d still want someone doing random fare checks to discourage people from trying to get in without paying (people find a way), and to catch people who do. It’s not impossible for people to jump the turnstiles or sneak up and squeeze through with someone who’s got a ticket… I’ll always wonder if the guy who did that to me in Paris got caught. The officers they had doing fare checks were present in groups of 3 or 4, dressed in business attire but it looked like you really didn’t want to mess with them.

    • Hi Pat;

      That happened to me in the Paris Metro, too – albeit many years ago now.

      A quick note to some other readers and commenters: I won’t be publishing comments that encourage people to jump turnstiles or use strategies to evade paying fares. It’s unlawful to ride the system without paying a fare.

      A few other thoughts on this subject.

      A lot of people spend a lot of time crabbing about Metro on this blog and some of you have questioned the cost/value of the gating system. That’s fine. Some good, hard questions have been asked and valid points raised. Everyone certainly has a right to express their views within the very reasonable boundaries of our comment policy.

      That said, I’m troubled by a certain subset of readers who spend a lot of time complaining about Metro and now want to use this blog as a forum to encourage fare evasion. Of course, it’s a hypocritical notion: these people say they want Metro to improve, they just don’t personally feel the need to pay for it. It’s really just a few readers thus far, but it’s ample proof (yet again) that the Internet is ideally suited at netting the lowest common denominator.

      There’s another issue here, too. There are rarely ideal solutions when it comes to public policy. Most often, those in charge of government have to choose a policy that is some sort of compromise or is thought to be the best of all options. In my opinion, such is the case with gate-latching. No, the gates will not be latched at every rail station. Yes, those intent on breaking the law can likely find a way to game the system. On the other hand, there will be latched gates at many of Metro’s busiest rail stations and the latched turnstiles will likely slow down or give pause to some people who otherwise were not paying fares. The latched gates doesn’t mean police will no longer inspect fares but it does mean that there is now a better way to check fares at the entry to many busy stations.

      It remains to be seen how everything works out. The agency is trying very hard to help its customers with the transition. As the gate-latching program continues this summer, we certainly welcome your comments, questions and concerns. If you want to be part of that conversation, then please show some respect for the law.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  15. Eric R,

    If you read it thoroughly, only half of the stations in the Metro Rail system are going to be latched. Majority of the Blue, Expo, and Gold Lines will still be on the honor system.

    Yeah, I know, it makes no sense. But because of this, we’ll still are going to be needing LEOs onboard doing random fare checks.

  16. The best part about latching the turnstiles is that now the board will be able to reduce law enforcement presence on Metro Rail, which is good for everybody! Except passengers. But if the stupid passengers are going to whine and crybaby about “safety,” they should drive a car.

  17. I for one am glad that the gates are now latched even though I am still angry at Metro why it wasn’t done sooner. All the complainers that this was going to be the end of the world just make me laugh.

    If they don’t like it, they can go back to the car. Good riddance because these tax cheaters were stealing from the system. Sure they’ll be less people on the trains, but they weren’t paying anyway so we won’t miss them!

    The next thing moving forward is to lock up all the gates. Having only half of the stations in the system locked up is beyond stupidity. This has to be made a no-excuse, no-BS, no-nonsense 100% system-wide implementation. Lock em’ all up!!