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8_3_09_Union_Station.jpgPhoto: Spokker Jones

While Streetsblog has been one of the leading news sources for information concerning the installation of fare gates at a handful of Metro rail and light rail stations, it's been one issue that we haven't taken an editorial position on.  In truth, since most of the funds for the project come from the Federal Department of Homeland Security, thus won't be coming from a more deserving transit project, it hasn't seemed like more than a curiosity of a story.

However, an article in the excellent Transport Politic really looks into the issue to examine whether or not Metro's turnstile plan is really a good or bad idea as a transit project.  While Transport Politic doesn't take a firm stand, it does make several good points, some of which have been made here and some that are new, including:

Metro's claim that the turnstiles will protect us from terrorists is ridiculous.

Metro's claim that the turnstiles will reduce fare evasion conflicts with their claim that they will reduce fare checkers on the trains.  Because Metro will not be installing gates at all stations, your wily fare evader will board at another station or just jump the gates because they are less likely to have their tickets checked.

While Metro claims it can recoup their investment in just 9 years; it's a better estimate that it could take up to 16 years.  However, that still puts them ahead of rail systems in other cities should they try to follow our example.

Despite some of its concerns, Transport Politic concludes that the turnstile plan is "on the cusp of justifiability."  If you need to read more about the fare gates, the New York transit blog Second Avenue Sagas reviewed yesterday's article in the Times.  While their write-up doesn't go into any of the arguments against Metro's turnstile plan, even their commentors, unfamilar with our rail system, have a laugh at the idea that these devices will be able to do anything to help prevent terrorism.

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