Metro enforcement cuts Orange Line fare evasion

Fare evasion has fallen sharply on the Orange Line since December and beefed up enforcement is credited with a 45 percent increase in the number of riders who pay fares and tap their TAP cards at validators before boarding the bus, according to Metro officials.

Metro conducted three fare enforcement audits on the Orange Line in December and February.

The first — on December 3  at the North Hollywood, Sherman Way and Van Nuys stations — found that 22 percent of Orange Line riders evaded fares by not having a valid TAP card or insufficient cash balance on the card. In addition, nine percent of passengers with an activated TAP card and a valid pass did not tap before entering, which is considered misuse of TAP and not fare evasion. As a result, 445 citations were issued that day.

A second audit was held on Dec. 17 at the North Hollywood, Canoga and Reseda stations. On that day, 16 percent of riders evaded fares and six percent of riders misused their TAP cards and 421 citations written.

A third audit was held February 11 at the North Hollywood, Van Nuys and Canoga stations. On that day, there was a seven percent rate of fare evasion and five percent misuse rate, resulting in 310 citations being issued.

The audits found that some passengers are still unclear about where and when to tap their fare cards. As a result, Metro is developing new posters and signs along with audio and electronic announcements explaining how to use TAP cards. A 30-second, instructional public service announcement about TAP cards is also being made and will be played on Transit TV on Metro buses.

There are about 26,000 boardings on the Orange Line on an average weekday. The Orange Line runs for 18 miles between North Hollywood, Warner Center and the Chatsworth Metrolink station.

11 replies

  1. Mark, The paper transfers are valid as long for as long as they are marked valid for. You will need a TAP-chipped transfer to get past a turnstile, and some connecting agencies are giving these out upon request. I hope you are fluent in English and get one that is not already expired like I have.

  2. I agree that using art and iconography is invaluable when crafting signage for use in the Metro system. To their credit, Metro’s design studio has done a good job thus far; my five year old is just learning to read, but can already decipher Metro’s nine “don’ts” from the signs posted around the system. This iconography has the potential to help not just Spanish speakers, but also tourists who might not know much English or Spanish.

    When it comes to simple rules of thumb, I just tell folks “TAP before each boarding”, (regardless if one is taking a single ride or making a transfer).

  3. The poster above makes a good point about non-English speaking people not following signs written in English.

    This is why Metro should have a better use for art budgets. Pictures and drawings speak a lot more words and is more universal than written English. Art is able to transcend boundaries. They need to use artists to make them draw and paint signs and posters that are more useful and speak out the point to those who can’t speak English.

  4. At the Van Nuys Station most of the people who board are not English Speaking so they just don’t pay attention to signs in English. I know the Tap systems work and it took me a couple of times to even spot the posts in the walkway were the tap machines.
    Same thing happens at signal crossings with the “Walk/Don’t Walk” signs. They think the button makes the signal change to green faster and think that by standing next to it and pounding it to death will make it change faster, but that does nothing to make the signal change to green faster, plus will wear out the button and eventually it does nothing. I gave up trying to inform them but they usually look at me with a blank stare or tell me to mind my own business. Or they just stand there and wait for signal to turn green and just cross even if the sign remains in the red Don’t Walk state. Women with babies is strollers are the worst. They run with the stroller with a baby on board and cross even if the red don’t walk is showing. I see this every morning at Kittridge and Van Nuys Blvd. People and kids going up to Van Nuys High School. It’s a wonder that more haven’t been hit or killed because they violate the rules or just don’t care. Somehow they need to make these non-English speaking people of just how dangerous it is to just ignore the rules. They are meant for everyone.

  5. I think Metro should repeat what was done at 7th/Metro Center station at all Orange Line stations…
    The validators should have “flag signs” sticking up from them at eye level and additional validators they should be placed in the middle of the walkway (so they are more noticeable to people who aren’t paying attention) to serve as “virtual fare gates”. It also might be helpful to place some decals on the ground just beyond the validators that are red and say “Did you TAP? Validated ticket or pass required beyond this point.”

    If you need an example here’s a picture from a previous source post:

  6. Metro does post signs on how the Tap card works but people are too much in a hurry to read them. Just know that I WILL cite you if you don’t Tap, don’t have fare on your Tap card or you don’t have a Tap card at all!!

  7. Over the last few years of trying to explain to friends and co-workers how to use TAP, I came up with a guide, which I wish was shorter and simpler but will have to do since TAP is complicated. Here it is:

    The Metro TAP Card The Short and Sweet version:

    Buy and put cash on the TAP card. That cash will work on all SoCal transit agencies that take TAP. Remember, some don’t yet.

    The base fare is $1.50 each segment on Metro. A few express routes charge more. Municipal operators [Culver City Bus, DASH, etc] generally charge less.

    TAP every time you change rail lines or buses. Even if you have a pass.

    If you think you are going to use the Metro more than x number of times in a day [3], week [14] or month [50] get a pass. Metro Passes work on Metro Bus and Rail only, not on municipal lines [except for the uber monthly EZPass for $84] EZPass works on Metro and almost all municipal agencies. If you are in a position which you need to take an express bus or MetroLink on a regular basis, you may consider getting a EZpass with Zone Fare add-ons. If you don’t have the pass to cover whole fare, on agencies which take TAP you can use cash value on the TAP Card to make up the difference.

    If you transfer to or from non Metro buses, load or get a paper transfer for a reduced fare from the driver or the TVMs at the station before transferring. You should be able to use the value on the TAP to buy those transfers. However, a lot of the Metro Bus drivers haven’t been trained to deal with TAP to add passes and give out transfers using the cash stored on the TAP card. Sometimes you will have to roll with it.

    Register the card at and if you lose your card, you can save the value on it. [Warning: site is archaic.]

    You can set up pretax transit money through employers who support those programs which you can use to put fares and passes on the TAP card. Unfortunately Pre-tax Transit Credit Cards which are sometimes issued for those type of accounts are picky and the only place I’ve found they work is at Metro TVMs and at their Service Centers. The Service Centers are the only place that you can get an EZPass with the Pre Tax Credit Card. You can go to places like Culver City Town Hall, Culver City Bus Transit center, the Big Blue Bus Store or even but you would have to use other forms of payment and be reimbursed from the pretax transit account.

  8. The tap validators are not as easy to see as Metro thinks. Each validator should look like a RedLine turnstile, even if there is no bar to push against. That would standardize all fare-paying points in MetroRail. Also, the validators must be located away from visual distractions and station clutter. It just takes a little planning and thinking like a customer, not a manager or employee.

  9. Very good!!! I have a question, why is it that I see a lot of guys smoking weed on or by the stations and on the bike phat? I ride my bike every day and I see this all the time, a lot of kids from school and adults drinking alcohol and smoking weed walking on the bike phat instead of the walking phat. I get so frustrated that they just don’t care.