Today’s Headlines

6_29_10_wishire_brt.jpgImage from LAist. Don’t forget to attend those Wilshire BRT Hearings!
  • "Hummer v Bike" Crash Report from April 2009 Forwarded to City Council (Biking In L.A.)
  • Measure R Will "Unlock Our Freeways" (LABJ)
  • Metro Checking Whether TAP Cards Are Valid (The Source)
  • Long Beach Wants More…When It Comes to Pedestrian Safety (LB Post)
  • Cyclists, Enviros, Support Wilshire BRT (LACBC Blog)
  • Another Critical Mass Recount (Be a Green Commuter, City Watch)
  • The Chicago Police Could Take Lessons from the LAPD (Chicagoist)
  • More on the "Flashing License Plates" (LAT)
  • Chris L

    Can someone please explain to me why Metro doesn’t just use turnstiles like every other city? Turnstile stays closed unless you either A) Tap your TAP card or B) insert and remove your paper ticket. Simple. It seems to me that by not doing this, they’re losing a huge amount of revenue, and relying on an inefficient and expensive policy of manually checking cards and tickets. Even if only 1% of people cheat the system, its a huge loss, but I’m willing to bet its more like 10-20%. I really don’t get it.

  • Chris, people jump turnstiles all over the world. Why spend millions and millions on fixed machines that require expensive maintenence instead of paying people to act as fare evasion deterrence + security + customer service….at a lower cost?

    Even London lacks any form of gate system in their docklands line and ALL outer tube stations. Most german, french, swiss, even greek subway systems lack turnstiles of any kind.

  • Joseph E

    Fare evasion has been estimated at 5% on Metro Rail, according to Metro’s own studies (which were meant to justify the TAP program and installation of turnstiles at some stations). Unfortunately, subway systems with turnstiles still get 1 to 2% fare evasion, according to MTA and Paris Metro’s experience; light rail station in the middle of the street are much easier to sneak onto, so fare gates would be even less effective here.

    Metro Rail gets about 300,000 trips a day. Say that increases to 500,000 in the next couple of years. At an average fare (including discounts and passes, and future increases) of $1, fare evasion would only cost 5% of 500,000, or $25,000 a day, about 7.5 million a year. So turnstiles/faregates might save 5 million a year. But putting in expensive gates at 70 stations, keeping them repaired, and providing cameras or station agents to help travelers and catch turnstile jumpers, could cost millions a year. And what if those 5% of fare evaders just decide to ride a bike or sneak onto the back door of a bus instead?

    In the end, Metro might not net any money from the gates, and could even lose money, all for the sake of inconveniencing transit riders, putting a barrier in the way of bikes and wheelchairs, and reducing the number of police patrolling the system.

    Instead, I would recommend that Metro 1) raise the fines for repeat fare evasion offenders, 2) increase the frequency of ticket checks by Sheriffs, and 3) consider hiring cheaper security guards to work along with the Sheriffs, to reduce costs while increasing the frequency of checks.

    In Seattle, riders of the new light rail report getting checked 2 or 3 times per month, while my experience was getting checked only once per month on the Blue Line, usually at rush hour only.

    With stronger “Proof-of-Payment” enforcement, faregates will be unnecessary. Maybe the sheriffs will catch some real criminals, too; the fare gates will never make an arrest.

  • Spokker

    “Even if only 1% of people cheat the system, its a huge loss”

    No, it isn’t.

    “but I’m willing to bet its more like 10-20%.”

    No, it isn’t. The vast majority of people who ride Metro are honest.

    “I really don’t get it.”

    No, you don’t.

    Fares cover something like a quarter of what it costs to operate transit service anyway. Joseph E explained everything else.

  • I whole heartedly agree with Spokker and Joseph E. The lies told to justify the gates are monumental. Month after month they are unravelling. It is time to end the lease and tell Cubic (and its lobbyist who schemed to foist this debacle on all of us) to take them out. It is worse than TAP.

  • That Wilshire BRT has a big gap there in the middle with Beverly Hills opting out between Santa Monica Blvd. and La Cienega Blvd.

    Does anyone knows if Beverly Hills is openly hostile to the idea of the BRT through their city or is just skeptically sitting back and waiting to see how it affects Los Angeles first?

    What was their rationale for not participating at this time?

  • Chris L

    @Spokker

    It was an honest question. I’m not exactly a Metro newbie…I’ve lived in Washington DC, London, Philly, and New York, and depended on rail in each place. I’ve never seen a heavy rail system without fare gates, so I was wondering what LA knows that these other cities with far more rail experience don’t. Your snarky one-line replies explained absolutely nothing except that you disagree with me and have a bad attitude.

    @Joseph – Thank you for your informative reply. That clears up things a bit, although I think the claim that all systems with turnstiles have a 1-2% fare evasion rate. Paris’ turnstiles are like doors; you literally can’t jump over them. And after riding the DC Metro twice daily for 6 years, I’ve only seen kids jump the gates a few times a year. Anecdotal yes, but 1-2% seems really high to me.

    So this brings up my next question: If Metro in LA is totally going on the honor/random fare-check system, why have those gates at all? They don’t seem to do anything. The fact that you don’t have to tap your TAP card or scan your paper ticket means that they’re not even good to collect ridership stats. They’re literally hunks of metal and electronics that do nothing but get in the way. Did they decide to put in real gates and then change their mind halfway through or something?

  • Chris L

    @Jass – How far out do you have to go in London’s system to get to a station without fare gates? I live in Central London (EC1 and N1) where we definitely had gates, but even all the way out at Heathrow – a good 45 minute tube ride out of the city- there are still fare gates. Or maybe this is a recent development? I lived there in 2003 to 2004.

  • Spokker

    “I’ve never seen a heavy rail system without fare gates, so I was wondering what LA knows that these other cities with far more rail experience don’t.”

    -LA’s subway system is more open and inviting than the New York Subway, for example. Consider the large, open plaza in North Hollywood. Consider the artwork in the stations. Consider the high ceilings and overall feeling of cleanliness. The Red Line isn’t spotless, but New York’s subway is disgusting in comparison. If the goal is to create an open, inviting transit system, how do fare gates fit into that equation?

    -The London Underground has a 100% farebox recovery. New York is around 55%. In Washington DC it’s 61%. A fare evader on those systems gets away with a lot more than a fare evader on LA’s system. Perhaps fare gates would be worth it when riders pay the full cost of riding the train.

    “Anecdotal yes, but 1-2% seems really high to me.”

    Well, I’ve never seen anybody evade the fare in Los Angeles. But you’ve concluded that it’s probably 10-20%. Wish I had your x-ray eyes.

    “If Metro in LA is totally going on the honor/random fare-check system, why have those gates at all? They don’t seem to do anything. ”

    There are issues to be worked out with the fare gates, TAP and other agencies. For example, if the fare gates were activated today, Metrolink riders would not be able to transfer to the Red Line as they are allowed to do now. It has not been decided how to deal with it.

  • Erik G.

    Chris L., welcome to Streetsblog!

    The problem that many of us have with the whole turnstile debacle (and that is what it has become as many of use predicted) is that it was foisted on riders without any thought or discussion. It appears to have been pushed through as a “security” measure, even though the turnstiles themselves are easy to hop over and the stations are not budgeted to be staffed. And as others have pointed out they are not ever going to be installed on any of the center-platform light rail stations as there simply is not enough room, so spot checking of fares will have to remain.
    (And I still have not figured out how they can be installed at the 7th Street/Metro Center Station under the current fare structure.)

    Another point of contention, with me anyways, is the use of cheaper turnstiles as opposed to faregates (or better yet the full-length doors you experienced in Paris), especially during the summer of 2009, which was when the H1N1 flu virus was supposed to be spreading about. Obviously no one at One Gateway thinks about this stuff, probably because none of them ever ride the system, except sometimes at lunch, but not at peak.

    Now add to all this the fact that the turnstiles were pushed through by a lame-duck retiring County Supervisor (one of the five that run this county of now-15-million-plus people), who was being forced to retire because she was actually living outside her district, in Brentwood:
    http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jul/27/local/me-burke27

    The whole thing stinks.

  • Erik G.

    Forgot one other thing. Amongst rea$on$ Ms. Burke was happy to believe the CUBIC propaganda was due to the number of her constituents who complained about getting cited for not paying their fare, IIRC.

    (When I say “constituents” I mean persons who reside in the district she claimed to live in, not Brentwood)

    So, Ms. Burke reasoned, if the stations had turnstiles, her constituents would not be able to to stumble on to a train where they would be entrapped by those nasty LASD deputies. Except that ironically, it is the stations mostly in her district that will never have turnstiles, so, as above, the fare-checkers are here to stay.

    Ironic, ain’t it?

    Hope that renovation was nice.

  • Spokker

    “Forgot one other thing. Amongst rea$on$ Ms. Burke was happy to believe the CUBIC propaganda was due to the number of her constituents who complained about getting cited for not paying their fare, IIRC. ”

    Constituent: Dear Supervisor, I’m getting cited for fare evasion! Help!

    Burke: Pay your fare, fucker.

    This is how it would work in a perfect world. Instead,

    Constituent: Dear Supervisor, I’m getting cited for fare evasion! Help!

    Burke: FARE GATES GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  • Erik G.

    Spokker, such language. ;)

    What is great reading are the reports concerning the future cashless tolling projects and either via transponders or through license plate reading, the toll-road industry states that a 5% toll evasion level is both to be expected and acceptable.

    Turnstiles for the coming HOT lanes?