Today’s Headlines

  • Times Gives Wet Kiss to Turnstiles, Is Completely Unable to Find Anyone in Opposition
  • Santa Monica Does Speed Surveys to, and Lowers Limit at 14 Locations (Daily Press)
  • Cyclists Write to LADOT Concerning Reseda Bike Lane (Green LA Transportation Working Group)
  • Bay Area Transit Strike Averted (Times)
  • Case for a Wilshire/Crenshaw Station (MetroRider)
  • Metro Installs Red Light Cameras Near 14 Eastside Gold Line Stations (LAist)
  • Pop Mechanics Gets Into Livable Streets and Green Transpo — Let’s Just Stick to the ‘Current Fixes’
  • DC’s Cedar Street Gets a Contraflow Bike Lane (Wash Cycle via Streetsblog.net)
  • That Times article on the turnstiles is just as pitiful as Damien describes it. Barely more than a rewritten press release. Truly disappointing that the major media source for the region basically is no longer covering transportation, which is an issue of great significance.

  • M

    Write a letter to the times about the article. I did.

  • I cannot believe how useless the Times has become without Steve Hymon. I barely read it anymore, I get better local info the local tv news, which is a very sad statement.

  • M, maybe what we need is an op-ed and shame the Times. This is bigger thand a single mediocre article.

  • jj

    Im not from LA and it hurts me to read about the turnstiles.

    50million+ to put in an outdated ticket collection system that is rendered useless by the lightrail system that will not have turnstiles.

    Itll be just like Boston, in which theyll say “POP on some lines” but do no checking at all, resulting in an even higher level of fare evasion.

  • David Galvan

    I have to say, I am not convinced that these turnstyles are a bad idea.

    I’ve seen everyone on these forums and others ranting about how they are the worst decision the MTA could make, and I’ve seen the points made by the Metrolink chairman, but honestly all this stuff just doesn’t seem like that big a deal to me.

    People saying they won’t reduce fare evasion because they won’t be at all rail stations: Do you really think that fare evaders will go to the trouble of somehow traveling to a completely different rail station to enter the system just to avoid paying a $1.25 fare? I think that’s ridiculous. If they put the turnstyles at the busiest stations of the blue and gold lines, and all the red/purple line stations, I would bet that would take care of 90% of fare evaders.

    Turnstyles in and of themselves are not a bad thing. But the placement of them is pretty important. I agree with the point that someone (I think Dan Wentzel?) has been making that they work best when they create a zone inside of which one could ride and transfer all they want. Like in Paris, where you just pay once with unlimited transfers as long as you don’t come up to the surface. This could be accomplished if they were careful about the placement of these turnstyles at certain places.

    $45 Million for installation is certainly a chunk of change, but if it really eliminates most of the $5million MTA is losing annually in fare evasion then the turnstyles pay off in 9 years. Doesn’t sound unreasonable to me.

  • “Do you really think that fare evaders will go to the trouble of somehow traveling to a completely different rail station to enter the system just to avoid paying a $1.25 fare”

    No, they will simply jump over the turnstile.

  • I still don’t get why we have to have turnstyles.

    If we are going to have gates, why not the kind of gates that BART uses in San Francisco or in use for the London Tube?

  • David Galvan

    @Spokker: Ha! I would bet that the proportion of current fare evaders who would be willing or able to jump over a turnstyle to continue to evade a $1.25 fare is pretty darn low.

    Right now, fare evasion is very easy and inconspicuous: just walk onto the train like everyone else. None of your peers know if you are evading or not, so the anxiety level of a fare evader must be low. There’s a high chance you won’t get caught, as nothing distinguishes you from the fare-paying riders. But if you suddenly force someone to do something as obvious and conspicuous as to jump over a turnstyle, in full view of fellow riders and deputies, you either a.) increase the anxiety of the fare evader to the point that they think twice and decide to not evade, or b.) make it much easier for authorities to catch the fare evader, as their behavior will now be visible to the enforcers in person or via video camera.

    Come on now, you really don’t think putting fare gates in will curb fare evasion because you assume all fare evaders are athletic and ballsy enough to jump turnstyle to avoid getting 5 quarters lighter?

    @Dan: I have no particular preference as to the type of faregate used. Let it be an actual gate-style other than a turnstyle. Whatever. I’d consider the differences between types of turnstyle to be minutiae.

  • “@Spokker: Ha! I would bet that the proportion of current fare evaders who would be willing or able to jump over a turnstyle to continue to evade a $1.25 fare is pretty darn low.”

    It’s not $1.25 because if they evade the fare enough they would be better served purchasing a day pass or a monthly pass. $1.25 is NOT the average cost of a fare.

    As easy as fare evasion is, the fare evasion rate is still very low. We’re talking about spending more than $5 million a year to recover $5 million. It doesn’t make any sense.

    “But if you suddenly force someone to do something as obvious and conspicuous as to jump over a turnstyle, in full view of fellow riders and deputies”

    Fellow riders don’t care. Observe bus riders who enter the bus from the back door. No one bats an eyelash.

    I doubt there will be many deputies milling around the gates.

  • David Galvan

    “It’s not $1.25 because if they evade the fare enough they would be better served purchasing a day pass or a monthly pass. $1.25 is NOT the average cost of a fare.”

    I’m talking about fare, meaning cost per one-way trip. The only reason someone would be better served purchasing a day pass is if they are going on 4 or more trips in a single day. In that case the per-ride cost would be LESS than $1.25 per ride. So. . . are you saying that fare evaders would be more motivated to evade the fare if the fare is LESS than $1.25 per ride? I don’t follow what you’re saying here. If you’re saying that they are avoiding paying $5 and so they are more motivated to avoid paying that, fine, but I am thinking in term of the number of times someone would be technically fare evading, which is equal to the number of transfers or entries into the system.

    Regardless, the point is that with fare gates the risk of getting caught evading the fare due to people seeing you jumping over a turn style is higher.

    “As easy as fare evasion is, the fare evasion rate is still very low. We’re talking about spending more than $5 million a year to recover $5 million. It doesn’t make any sense.”

    It’s a long-term investment. The cost quoted in the article is $46 million to install the fare gates. If it helps to recoup, say 4 of the 5 million a year lost in revenue, then the fare gates pay for themselves in under 12 years. Unless you’re worried about the rail system not being used 12 years from now, I don’t see the problem. I haven’t seen quotes as to the operations/maintenance cost of the fare gates, but I’d imagine it could potentially be lower than the cost of keeping as many deputies assigned to the stations.

    “Fellow riders don’t care. Observe bus riders who enter the bus from the back door. No one bats an eyelash.”

    Fellow riders may not care, but I still say there are significantly fewer people with enough gumption to jump over the turnstyles in order to evade the fare than there are current fare evaders, who don’t need much gumption at all.

    “I doubt there will be many deputies milling around the gates.”

    Why? When I’ve ridden the red line, there are typically more than one deputy on the platform. All it takes is to station one of them to hang around within visibility of the fare gates to deter people from jumping over them. Problem solved.

  • Mr. Galvan, go down to Union Station during rush hour and envision the hordes of Merolink riders trying to funnel through those few gates (which te current Metro Monthly notes are two-way, so woe betide anyone trying to go against the flow). And thanks to TAP stupidity they will have to fumble for a second card besides their monthly pass to get through.

    I openly doubt the claims of how much additional revenue the gates will recover. This is being done for dubious political purposes at the instigation of the vendor. I see the whole thing as tainted and feel the bigger picture is not fixating on mindless claims but to see this is a bad idea being done out of a flawed process.

    I predict a huge waste of money that will achieve little. And nothing said here has changed my opposition.

  • Erik G.

    It ought to be pointed out that none of the “Metro Officials” mentioned in the article who are stationed at the (19th-century) turnstiles have any credentials visible other than the easily-available/stolen neon vest, and about 1 in 3 of them are actually CUBIC employees.

    This is setting a really, really dangerous precedent, Ms. Matsumoto and Mr. Leahy!

  • Erik G.

    .” The MTA and the Metrolink commuter rail service are developing one-way tickets, daily passes and Metrolink tickets that can be scanned by the new gates.”

    This is a total lie. Metrolink has stated reapeatedly that they will not be altering their ticket stock or machines to accomodate Metro’s TAP.

    Sad, isn’t it, that the Times still calls it “MTA”.

  • David Galvan

    Yeah well. The coming apocalypse of metrolink riders meeting fare gates apparently didn’t cause too many problems in the analagous system in Paris. You can transfer from the metro to the RER over there, two systems which require separate fares, moving through fare gates, and yet life goes on.

    All I’m hearing on this blog is how the fare gates are the worst idea ever and should be abolished blah blah blah. Fare gates are not a bad idea. They are tools that, if placed properly and managed properly, can help the efficiency of the system. Sure, there are more efficient ways to deploy them, and the new MTA CEO seems to be cautious enough to put it into an observation period to see how things go before deciding on the best way to deploy them. But I’m not hearing much from anyone around here about the best ways to deploy fare gates or what specific locations they should be in to minimize crowding, etc. I’m just hearing that fare gates are bad. Well, good luck convincing all the people in Chicago, New York, Paris, London, etc. of that. Gates seems to work fine for them.

    I agree that there are better or worse ways to deploy this system, but I’m not hearing that debate on these forums. I’m hearing demonization of fare gates and of Cubic, which everyone keeps badmouthing because they are an engineering company that also works on defense contracts. Ooooh, scary. They sometimes have the U.S. military as a customer, therefore they are evil, right? Please.

  • Mr. Galvan, did anyone even mention defense contracts? Cubic is using political influence to get a desired result, much as Breda is seeking to do, deforming the process. Basing decisions on such insider pull is a bad idea. It is a symptom of the dysfunctional culture Metro spent years trying to rid itself of. Some of us have mentioned principles about why we are opposed. Also retrofitting an existing system that has been proof of payment is complicated and if to be undertaken should be done on a rational basis. That doesn’t describe what is happening here.

    Ok, you have your point of view. I have mine. Folks who read this thread can examine our various perspectives and decide what they think. Or not, as the case may be.

    The interesting thing is Leahy has publicly expressed doubts about this project and the testing is something new (until recently is was gung ho away we go for putting the gates up ASAP). The article doesn’t capture this nuance–there is a chance at the end of the test the CEO may come back to the Board and say it is a bad dea and should not be done. That could make for a very interesting situation.

    In the end, as with much at Metro, what happens will be as much about politics as whether something makes sense.

    P.S. – M, last night I e-mailed a letter to the Times. I hope one of us reaches print.

  • David Galvan

    (regarding the defense contracts, I wasn’t referring to this thread in particular, but various threads I’ve seen here.)

    Fair enough. I’m all for them being reasonable about how to implement a fare gate system. I’m not demanding them or anything. It just seems like most of the comments I read about them are people who are basically 100% against fare gates, which seems sort of silly to me given how effective they are in other metro systems.

    I am glad Leahy put the breaks on to actually think about the best way to install these things.

  • BTW, thanks to a tip-off from me Kevin Roderick mentioned Damien’s headline on the turnstile story in the Monrning Buzz roundup on L.A. Observed today…

    http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2009/08/morning_buzz_tuesday_8180.php#more

  • Marcotico

    David, Dana,

    I see you two are kind of wrapping up your discussion. But I thought I’d weigh in. I kind of side with David on this one. I see it as a useful long term investment. Not because of fare evaders, though. Rather it has the potential to lead to better implementation of TAP cards, zone based fare pricing, and possibly provide better more accurate ridership data.

    However, Dana, your points are very valid, and unfortunately these upside positives depend on rational implementation, and future planning of the system, which runs counter to the political influence / fix a problem with expensive infrastructure that often takes hold at Metro.

  • Erik G.

    Mr. Galven,

    1)L.A. is not Paris

    2) The RER ticket is the same stock/type as RATP’s Metro and can be used inter-changably if travelling wihin the confines of the ticket’s zone. I.E. a Paris Metro tick can be used to ride the RER within the city of Paris and the RER ticket, if it was sold to include Paris in the journey, can be used from the Parisian Suburbs/Exurbs, to the city and then for a free transfer to the Metro apon arrival at one of any of the RER stations inside Paris.

    And Paris, having long had a fully integrated magnetic-paper ticket system is now moving to the “Navigo” card.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navigo_pass

    But back in car-encouraged L.A., where it is difficult to get people out of their fine-four-fendered friends as is, we will take a step backwards: there will be NO “seemless” integration as there is now, and in fact,

    THE TAP CARD ISN’T YET FULLY INTRODUCED!!!

    First things first, if you please.