Your Metrolink “System-Wide” Weekend Pass May Not work on Metro. Here Is What to Do.

One of the best transportation bargains on offer in Southern California is the Metrolink’s Weekend Day Pass. The agency, offers a ticket on Saturdays and Sundays that allows the holder to ride anywhere on Metrolink’s service, albeit reduced from weekday offerings, for just $10.

It’s so popular that beginning two weeks ago, Metrolink began to run out of the special stock it is issues tickets on, stranding customers connecting to the Red and Purple Lines at Union Station at turnstiles that do not open. Metro does not have any staff present down in the Subway’s fare mezzanine to assist.

Metrolink Ticket without TAP RFID Chip
Click on the image to see if full sized.

Like all Metrolink tickets and passes, this one also includes a free transfer to “most connecting transit.” In the past year, as what I refer to as “Metro’s Turnstile Fetish” finally came to a climax. Dates were set for gate latching. Rather than ripping out and returning the turnstiles which had sat in free-spin mode for close to four years, a solution was found to allow Metrolink passengers to retain their long-held right to freely transfer, and be able to open the “latched” turnstiles now found at all the Subway (Red/Purple Line) stations.

This came in the form of a Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) chip, compatible with Metro’s TAP fare system, which was imbedded in each Metrolink ticket that had as its destination Los Angeles County.

But, with recent changes to their fare structure, Metrolink has begun to run out of ticket stock with the embedded chip and persons buying Weekend Passes. This has led to Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) dispensing tickets that do not have the ability to open the turnstiles at any of the Subway stations, even though those TVMs do not ask which county the purchaser intends to travel to when the Weekend Day Pass is purchased.

Because there is no guidance on either Metrolink’s or Metro’s websites on this matter, and my e-mails to Metrolink’s Director of Public Affairs were not returned, if you get one of these tickets, as shown above, you will need to speak to Metrolink Customer Service Personnel at Union Station who will assist you with obtaining fare media that can open the turnstiles.

This may take a bit of time, for in my experience, these individuals roam the platforms and the station tunnels and are not necessarily in one spot at all times. And the Metrolink Customer Service Windows located at both ends of the station have not been open on weekends.

Also, these usually teal-shirted Customer Service are not to be confused with either the on-train staff or the numerous private security guards Metrolink has employed in a Quixotic quest to reduce their already extremely low fare evasion rate of 4%. You can also try your luck at the newly-installed hands-free intercoms, but my sources say that the agents staffing these were still unaware of the issue last weekend, and were unwilling to assist.

So allow sometime to make your transfer to the Subway if you end up with one of the un-chipped Weekend Day Passes.

And do note from the photos above that both the “TAP” and the “EZ-Pass” logos appear to be overprinted on the ticket itself; do not be surprised if an overzealous bus operator or inspector on the Light-Rail lines initially refuses to honor them.

How this all came to be is a story in itself for another blog post, but I wanted to give Streetsblog readers the heads up on this situation before the weekend.

  • Meanwhile the gate latching propaganda machine continues apace

    http://zev.lacounty.gov/news/gate-latching-hits-a-roadblock

    Beyond the seeming glossing over by the Zev p.r. operation of how costly and difficult retrofitting gates on many of the surface light rail stations would be; is the claimed increased ticket sales something not concern us since it shows an utter disconnect from traditionally what we were told the level of fare evasion was? For years system checks seemed to show it was in the low single digits. Now suddenly we are made to see it as a tidal wave that the gates valiantly have finally held back. Am I the only one who wants an explanation how the old numbers are reconciled with the new?

  • Collin1000

    Aren’t you able to go up to one of those new customer service help boxes at any of the gates and Metro staff can remotely unlatch them? I don’t think you need to find someone in Union Station. I’ve never had to do it but I’ve seen people at them… they just hold their pass up to the camera I think.

  • BigNoel

    On weekdays I have used my Metrolink Tickets with a E-Z chip to ride Metro Rapid Buses. A few times I have gotten a Invalid ticket alarm on the fare box of the bus as I entered. The bus drivers have never said anything about this. Recently I asked the driver about this and he just said don’t worry about it.

  • Erik Griswold

    On the bus, you are supposed to just show the Metrolink ticket to the driver, not tap it.

  • Erik Griswold

    As I wrote in the article, even on what was the second weekend of issueing non-chipped tickets, apparently no one at Metrolink had relayed the existance of these non-chipped tickets to Metro’s gate help staff. Reports I got were of long waits while agents obtained permission to admit the Metrolink tickettholder past the turnstile. When headways are long, as they tend to be on Weekend mornings, this is an unacceptable delay.

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