Metro Rail gate latching proceeding faster than expected; five Gold Line gates to be latched in mid-September

Latching of gates on the Metro Red/Purple Lines was completed August 5, 2013, three weeks ahead of schedule, meaning latching can proceed on the Metro Gold Line without delay. The first gates were latched on the Red/Purple Lines at Union Station on June 19, 2013.

Five Gold Line stations will be latched on Monday, September 16, two in East Los Angeles at Mariachi Plaza and Soto Street and three stations in Pasadena at Sierra Madre Villa, Allen Avenue and Lake Avenue. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) will staff the stations one week prior to latching through Monday, September 30, 2013 to ensure safety and to alert passengers of the schedule for latching.

New floor decals in distinctive yellow colors will be installed soon on the walls and floors near turnstiles with the slogan “TAP is Your Ticket.”

TAP is a universal fare system used by Metro Rail, Metro’s 2,000 buses and 10 other municipal transit agencies. Metrolink has its own TAP-enabled card that permits Metrolink passengers to transfer to Metro Rail with no extra charge. TAP allows passengers to transfer seamlessly to another carrier without having to fumble for change or figure out what a particular carrier charges. In addition, TAP provides up-to-date passenger data so service can be adjusted for demand, if needed.

TAP can be purchased at TAP vending machines at all Metro Rail stations, at nearly 500 retail outlets including many Ralphs markets and participating check cashing services. A TAP card can be reloaded and reused. TAP can be purchased online at and it can be registered so that if a TAP card is lost or stolen the card and remaining value can be returned.

The original schedule called for Sierra Madre Villa, Allen and Lake Stations to be latched on Monday, October 14, 2013 with Mariachi Plaza and Soto Stations scheduled to latch the following week on Monday, October 21, 2013.



23 replies

  1. The implied argument that the system is underutilized because in the past customer’s had a choice, either skate for free, or feel like a fool for paying, is no defense to wasting money making it more difficult to ride if too many people are not trying to ride.

    I support funding transit based upon indexed farebox revenue- that means you don’t get the near billion if not multibillion dollar change from bonding etc. without having to ‘pay’ it all back from sufficient ridership. That means, for recent instructive example, that when you get the track laid, and the trains rolling, every day you lock everyone but staff out costs you a proportionate amount to what providing that service(using a sophisticated economic model), even if to staff only, costs. You don’t get to ride around without nuisance token public access for so many months routinely so absurdly the duration is more properly described in years, nor blame the feds, as they’ve imposed that NEVER over your earnest resistance. As the comments continue to lamely observe, “rightness” without any justification beyond ‘moral’ (referenced by namecalling without appeal to reason) argument is never satisfied. They don’t care if no one rides, just as long as the token they pay to ride isn’t optional for some one else, so they don’t feel the fool. It’s so easy -I know!- to drop the token in the machine, and those who have only contempt for those who keep it in there pocket should try what they instead only cry about some time- it’s not fun. Accordingly…. I (sure, also) felt the fool when paying but am not fad-glad you’ve made it ‘easier’ to pay. My comments pack great nuance and do not exceed the norm from others except in that. You dare taking farebox seriously at your nefarious future plans to serve auto not public interest’s peril. I wish you IN REAL ACTION ACTUALLY cared about following the potential demand and asserted your rights to charge a toll above ground the space for which is only car hogged presently and nearly – therefore if you had any cajones- freely found.

  2. Dave,

    I believe Metro intentionally did that so as to prevent people from handing over TAP cards to another person so that consecutive TAP uses at the same station isn’t doable.

    It’s like I pass through the gate using my TAP card with a monthly pass in it. Then, I hand my TAP card over to you across the gates, and you use my TAP card to get through the gate so that you get in for free using my TAP card. It’s a fare evasion loophole fix that Metro got right. Unfortunately, the consequence of that is there’s no way for TAP to know that if another person is using it or you just stepped outside for a few minutes and you’re just trying to get back in.

    Signage would help to prevent this from happening, something like: “after you pass through this gate, you will not be able to go back out and re-enter until X minutes/hours has passed.”

  3. The “TAP Already Used” issue also needs to get fixed. I’ve seen people getting locked out of the system because they decided to briefly leave the station for a phone call or a drink (perhaps they missed their train), and upon returning, they find out the turnstiles won’t let them back in because “TAP already used.” And yeah, I have seen myself in those scenarios as well.

  4. Steve,

    I think the point Greg E and others are pointing out is that fare evaders having no risk getting caught if their intended travel goes from a non-gated station to a gated destination, creating a loophole for fare evaders.

    For example, what’s the risk factor for getting caught if one goes from a non-gated Blue Line Station, then transfers at 7th/Metro and gets off at a gated Red Line Station?

    There’s no gate or entry check at the non-gated Blue Line station – it remains as a free entry into the system.

    The risk of getting caught while riding the train is minimal. We already tried for years under the honor system using random fare checks with officers on board and it was ineffective.

    And there’s no TAP out exit check at the point of destination, inclusive of the Red Line stations that are gated. The gates are latched for entry only. The turnstiles are still free spinning for exits with no secondary validity check going on.

    A freeloader basically can just easily walk into the system from a non-gated station, ride the train for free with minimal risk of getting caught, and get out of a gated (but exit turnstile free-spinning) station upon arrival without ever paying into the system.

    So what you have here is a “travelling from a non-gated station to a gated station is still free” loophole. This loophole has to be fixed to get things done right.

    • Hi Fare Evasion Loophole,

      I’m well aware of Greg’s point. He and others have commented repeatedly on the issue of gate latching for many months on this blog.

      As has been explained in the past, Metro is not installing gates at all stations because Metro officials say there isn’t appropriate space at all rail stations for the gates. This could possibly change over time but that’s the situation for now.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  5. Something I have not seen discussed is how arbitrary is the cash ONLY equivalent NOW even more imposed despite passes existing ‘upgrade’ in not allowing any deficit whatsoever to be carried. This is of course predatory of Metro etc. in that like unlimited minute ‘indigent’ (wireless) telephone plans that rob customer’s of even there monthly total minutes so as to not have them be able to confirm they are not paying far more per minute then previously the effective interest rate charged but for the not deficit spending policy would have to be so high to be a worse deal then the present zero trust solution IT is inexcusable and only serves to reward those paying the lowest percentage of the value they enjoy while encouraging most people to patronize car-makers and the bears that are demolishing our planet’s ecosystem in continuing to haunt every cities mouths and intestines as if trout ravished by them are born weighing pounds and a nuisance to all if not eaten instantly.

    Cars are rarely paid for in full in advance of there use. People jump turnstyles sometimes because they don’t have funds to pass normally. This though in our nation is rarely a permanent solution. To drive it is not required to post a bond higher then any possible fine. Upon getting a ticket, even many after adjudication and delinquent, it is still possible to drive while interest and late fees etc. accumulate for too long or not long enough, but policy SHOWS ACTUAL AT LEAST discretion being exercised. Car dealers understand that you don’t make much money if you sell ___only___ to those who will pay there bills. The sweet spot always involves a substantial number of deadbeats being served. In every case a business that has never been ripped off has been managed so incompetently that criminal conflict being served instead is hard to imagine not being present and NEVER exists in reality. Transit is the rule in this of course.

    The transition should of involved reductions in the amount of debt or increases in the interest rate charged. At some point this discussion might of included how much is too much to charge for a trip- a hundred bucks? A thousand? If someone has been ridiing for years and owes over ten thousand, is charging them another thousand dollars to possibly not die or save someone elss life or many too much? Of course not. The alternative is to lock them out and put them in a car, like some strip club that makes most of it’s money from family funds misdirected from food and shelter under some employee’s g-string is the only business model ever discussed or available to be emulated. The car is always available even it must be stolen. You can’t compete with cars if you ever deny access fully. It is a populist irrationality that is emblematic of our failure to have any transit at all essentially anywhere in America that has us paying a million dollars at least for every thief denied service. Someday soon our planet will have been killed, but we will be satisfied that a few thousand people in Los Angeles did not get one of several empty seats instead of sparing all of us having no planet to live on? I don’t think so.

    The purpose of charging fares in transit is singular. To prevent overcrowding and customers being DENIED access, not to deny access. It is not a moral thing. Fares should prevent much of the transit infrastructure currently suffered from having every been built. As long as low cost or profitable passengers are undeserved the transit built instead is embezzlement from the commons serving ‘development’ and other interests that should be required to get there own funding and not write essentially the countless blank checks to GM and have us continue failing to bounce a sufficient number of photons off earth to survive much longer. We tend to put/build trains only where additional profits to GM are not possible- could anything more insane exist? TO compete means you take market share where it is most not least profitable. As I mentioned this is not a situation that has Metro executives hypothetically protected by popular even public votes. A jury selected with partiality to judgment instead ONLY protects them from wrongful imprisonment. The facts USUALLY get noticed by such bodies, the challenge, despite that somehow, we have is even more empowering them to put the fear of years without dental floss etc. into the minds of ‘contractors’ and planning officer’s now serving no species but perhaps debt that it’s evil to pay- debt owed to those who have bought accounts payable sold by the purveyors of the greatest terrors ever conceived including municipal road and garage etc. bonds.

    It is pointless to charge a fare at all if it’s not going to liberate funds now designated for further tunneling below ground so unshared cars can so bizarrely continue to act like there for profit enabling venal corporations own all our above ground paths- and tax free at that!. Let us please instead Toyota etc. build there own tunnels if they can afford to while we call Nissan’s bluff to provide rides we neither have to hire no volunteer to enable not requiring track or parking. Someone if not them will take our money and serve us better in just months not even years or most under a decade. For such reachable sanctuary putting a bunch of mainly sociopath rich white guys (former ‘transit’ management tools) in jail is the greatest bargain in the world. I’d personally donate 90% of my after tax income to pay the guards and never retire if even just one got busted.

    • Hi Karl;

      I approved your comment because I know you took some time writing it. Unfortunately, I doubt many people will read it due to its length. Please keep it shorter next time and you’ll have a wider audience. If you can’t keep it shorter, I won’t approve. Thank you in advance,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  6. If not all the stations aren’t going to be latched, Metro should look at how Atlanta’s MARTA went to a tap-in/tap-out system using their Breeze Card system, which is basically the same exact Cubic technology as ours despite being a $2.50 flat rate system.

    MARTA does tap-in and tap-out because they have the same issues as we do. Not all of their stations are gated and locked. So they needed to come up with a solution against freeloaders from those stations. MARTA created a system which requires a primary tap-in for entry check AND a secondary tap-out for exit check at the destination.

    The tap out for exit serves as a secondary checkpoint. Only those that paid honestly are let out of the stations. Those that didn’t pay, meaning no TAP-in recorded onto the Breeze Card, are prevented from leaving the destination station and are locked within the system. There’s no escape!

    All the freeloader can do then is ride the train back to a station without a gate (all in the while wasting their time and risking getting caught by law enforcement) and load up value there. This serves as a public reminder to freeloaders that if they don’t want to go through all this, they are disciplined and learn the hard way that they need to pay to ride everytime, all the time, no exceptions.

    Even if they think they don’t have to pay to ride from an non-gated station and they think they’re getting away with it, they’re in for a huge disappointment when they realize they now need a tap-out to exit and without going through this secondary check, they won’t be let out of the station of their destination.

    Let’s make life more difficult for fare cheats. They’re breaking the law anyway so why should we make life easy for them? If they don’t pay, make them suffer – waste their time, prevent them from leaving the station, make them learn the lesson the hard way.

    Besides, the success of the locked gates have proven that honest people have no problems doing tap-in and they’ll have no problem doing tap-out either. Only dishonest people make complaints and cry afoul with excuses after excuses.

  7. You’re all forgetting that with fare gates installed, with them taking care of fare checks for the rest of the transit riders, the officers can now focus their attention on the singularized problem points like those who try to cheat the system through the emergency gates, instead of randomly checking fares throughout the entire transit system which is an impossible task to handle.

    The previous honor system solution involved saturating the system with randomized officers. This is going to get costly and too ineffective as the system expands and more riders turn to transit. Our system is growing and more people are turning to transit, that solution is going to work anymore. Hence, we need to change our strategy. The current solution is utilizing more automated gates and pin pointing the problem areas and strategically placing officers at those problem areas. It’s a far more efficient use of technology alongside law enforcement manpower than in the past.

    I make this analogy: A house full of mouse-holes will be impossible to go after the mice no matter how many cats there are in the house (and feeding and taking care of those cats is going to get really expensive quickly!). But a house where all the mouse-holes are patched up and fixed, so that it’s left with only one mouse-hole (in this case – the emergency gates), all you need is to place one cat (one officer) right near the only mouse hole to get rid of the problem.

  8. Source – as happy as I am with the gate latching, I notice the same problems J Stands and Erik Griswold have observed, people are taking advantage of the 2-way entrance/exit in the handicap door to sneak into the subway system. It’s become quite pervasive and happening each time I step into Metro rail. Can something be done to correct this illegal behavior so that everybody is paying their “fare share”?

    • Hi Neel;

      I’ll pass this along to Metro officials and Sheriff’s Department. Thanks!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  9. So if I understand it correctly, some stations won’t have gates and they will still be open for fare evasion? That doesn’t make any sense at all. Doesn’t that defeat the entire purpose of latching up the gates to fight fare evasion?

    With social media these days, it’s not going to be that difficult to share on Facebook or Tweet “still able to ride 4 free from so-and-so station, still have no locked gates #freerides”

    • Hi Greg;

      The issue is that there isn’t adequate room at some stations for gates to be installed. There will still be fare enforcement by Sheriff’s Deputies on the system and they are well aware of which stations have gates versus those that do not. I do hear what you’re saying. Perhaps consider this: Metro’s busiest rail line (the Red/Purple Line) will be entirely gated and some entrances for other lines also gated. I don’t believe that even with social media people will go far out of their way because a station has or doesn’t have gates.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  10. Does Metro have a broad timeline on how long it will take to get every single station in our Metro Rail system gated and latched up?

    • Hi Greg;

      Not all stations will have gates. There is a schedule to latch the ones with gates and I’ve posted it in the past but can’t find at the moment. The gist of it is that the remaining gates will be latched over the next several months. We’ll announce them as they’re set for latching.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  11. Erik,

    If it’s a “debacle” why does every major city around the world uses it with no problems and every single city that uses the honor system is corrupted with out of control fare evasion? You’re right that Metro should’ve done this YEARS ago instead of waiting so long to figure this out. #nobrainer

  12. @J Sands, fare evaders bother me when I see them, but it’s not my job to ensure everyone pays. If Metro was serious about fare evaders they would build a system that doesn’t allow evaders to sneak through.

  13. Great news! Now all they need to do is TAP out and latch the gates on exit to prevent freeloaders from making an easy escape out of the system. Then they can move onto strategically place plain clothes undercover cops near the entrance and exits with the most amount of fare evasion going on to nab the fare evaders red handed just like the rest of the world.

  14. Ahead of Schedule?!? Reallly!?!
    Show us a reference that had 7th Street/Metro Center being latched after August 5th, because I certainly don’t recall one. And its a bit rich for Metro to pat itself on the back over this, given the multiple number of times the latching or locking schedule was pushed back because of the cart-before-horse implementation of both the turnstiles and the RFID card. Let us not ever forget that these turnstiles were installed almost four years ago, or 1/6th of their lifespan.
    There is little if nothing to be proud about this very very expensive debacle.
    And I have also witnessed what J Sands has observed. So what was the point of these again?

  15. I still see fare evasion on the subways all the time at the disability entrance gate. Is there a sensor that opens automatically if you waive your hand from the other side much like automatic doors or elevator doors People try to squeeze through or step over the gate then it automatically opens. Some wait for someone to exit and then go through. Easy to go through because no officers around and other riders dont to say anything or care. I know people say fare evaders will actually jump the turnstile but I havent seen one yet do that when there is an easier gate.

  16. I am going to assume the latching of the subway went well then. It will be interesting to see the report on effectiveness, fare collection and ridership.