At this week’s Metro Board Executive Management Committee meeting staff will present a report  “on accelerated completion of gate locking.”
Here is the key paragraph reflecting what Metro staff believe is feasible regarding fare gate closing:
Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) are in the process of being converted to operate in a TAP only environment. Conversion is scheduled to be complete by August 9. Intermittent gate locking can begin as early as June 27 but will require staff presence to monitor gate arrays. Permanent gate locking can begin as early as August 27 with a completion target date of November 30, 2012.
Wilshire/Normandie Purple Line station will be the testbed for the gate locking:
Following the lab testing of the software and the initial modifications that converted the TVMs at the Wilshire/Normandie station (ended June 20), Wilshire/Normandie can now be locked for revenue service during normal business hours. A schedule for staffing of
just this Wilshire/Normandie station with LASD personnel and temporary ambassadors will be finalized with the Implementation Team by the end of June. LASD staff will assist a small minority of riders at Wilshire/Normandie who may have either a paper EZ.
Transit pass (4% total during the 10 week gate locking demonstration entries), a Metrolink paper pass (9% total during 10 week gate locking demonstration), or a Muni-to-Metro transfer (0% total during 10 week gate locking demonstration). Those riders who have historically paid for one-way or day passes with cash and issued a paper ticket will be assisted by ambassadors at each TVM array – all customers requiring assistance will be personally aided by temporary ambassadors who have been trained to educate and assist customers with the paper-to-TAP transition.
As I mentioned in a previous commentary , Metro’s intention is to lock all the gates by the end of the year in the Red/Purple Line stations although they concede delays in a solution for Metrolink patrons may mean the locking of Union Station will happen after the 1st of the new year:
With the successful locking of the manned Wilshire/Normandie, staff can then proceed with systematic, phased locking of all Red Line subway stations between the end of July through the beginning of September 2012. It is anticipated that during the months of July and August, two Red Line stations per week will be locked. From the end of August to mid-September, the remaining Red Line stations will be locked, three stations per week. Union Station can be locked by the second week in September. Recognizing the potential impacts to Metrolink customers, the Metrolink working group and consultants are currently under discussion of examining possible alternatives while Metrolink is working on their TVM modifications to sell paper smart cards. Alternatives to providing Metrolink riders with temporary smart cards or other TAP fare media are options under consideration. Staff will report back in July for alternative solutions including keeping Union Station unlocked for a duration that extends to February 2013.
The previously mentioned EZ pass sticker solution is also impending: “Sales of TAP-enabled EZ Transit Passes will commence with the September sales period”. And we finally are given more specifics about the long promised TAP alternative for Metrolink patrons:
Paper tickets utilizing smart card technology will be loaded into Metrolink ticket vending machines and serve a dual purpose of vending Metrolink products and allowing entry into Metro gated stations. The smart chip to be used in these tickets has been identified and Metro and Metrolink are working closely with associated vendors to procure these tickets on an accelerated basis. A detailed schedule is currently under development to establish an accurate end date for implementation.
Also the vexing problem presented by patrons of connecting Municipal bus lines that aren’t part of TAP and that still issue paper transfers is seemingly about to be resolved:
A “Subway-Only” limited use paper smart card transfer has been recommended for issuance by Municipal bus lines that connect to the Metro Red and Purple Lines. This will enable Municipal bus operators not currently participating on the TAP system to offer their riders convenient entry to Metro’s gated subway system. Other Municipal operators who are current participants on the regional TAP system can provide automated electronic transfers for their customers who will use their regular plastic, permanent TAP cards. Customers transferring to a non-TAP Municipal bus carrier (Muni-to-Muni transfer) can be issued the existing paper transfer no differently than today.
The report concludes with assessment of staffing and outreach. I am very curious about the assertion all this will end up being revenue neutral and achieved by redeploying existing Sheriff personnel.
There has been some consternation at the notion for even a single trip on the subway purchase of a TAP card will be necessary. At the Westside/Central Service Council meeting last week Jon Hillmer who is the liaison to the Councils mentioned plans for the TVMs at Red/Purple Line stations to sell paper tickets with chips for those paying for a one-way trip. When this will occur is unclear.
My reason for quoting at such length directly from the staff report is I feel this issue is too important to condense or summarize Metro’s plans. Hopefully this answers many of the questions people have about the gate locking. We will soon see if Metro’s seeming confidence in going forward is justified.
My thanks to activists Ken Ruben and Eugene Salinsky who shared with me Mr. Hillmer’s comments. Also I appreciate Mr. Hillmer confirming them.