Commentary: Does “Locking the Gates” and All the Associated Costs Even Make Fiscal Sense?

(Dana Gabbard is a Board Member of the Southern California Transit Advocates and an occasional contributor to Streetsblog. When he opines, he does so on behalf of himself as a long-standing transit watcher. Gabbard has written about the fare gate issue several times since Metro first proposed putting up gates in 2008.)

Photo: ##http://lapd.com/news/headlines/plainclothes_sheriffs_deputies_patrol_the_citys_transit_system/##Los Angeles Police Protective League##

One justification offered for the need to gate Los Angeles’ rail system is that the present “Proof-of-Payment” system is evaded by a large number of people and that gates will increase revenue collection. This presumes only gating can reduce the level of fare evasion occurring. But as shown by Tri-Met in Portland, Oregon over the past year catching scofflaws and sending the message to users that fare evasion will not be tolerated can be achieved cost effectively by increasing the number of roving fare enforcers.

Metro’s current gating plan involves dedicating 160 Sheriff Assistants (which is 60 more than we currently have for the entire Metro Rail system) to watching fare gates. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have them as part of an enhanced roving fare inspection program? Consider that unlike the gate sentinels that these enforcers will be able to provide assistance aboard vehicles as they move through the system and have flexibility in targeting the stations where evasion problems are most numerous without the draconian choke point effect on patron flow patterns imposed by gating.

Think of all the money saved by pulling out the gates and ending the payments Metro makes to Cubic for renting them. And despite claims by Metro staff it is not too late to do this. All it takes is for the Metro management and the Board to own up to the gating being a money pit fiasco and consider this better alternative.

I’m not holding my breath the foregoing will happen. But I at least wanted to share that gating is not the only solution–and that in my view it is the equivalent of using a hammer to get rid of a fly.

My thanks to bus and rail advocate Andy Novak for bringing the Tri-Met press release to my attention.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Commentary on Metro Plan to Lock Subway Gates This Year

|
(Dana Gabbard is a Board Member of the Southern California Transit Advocates and an occasional contributor to Streetsblog.  When he opines, he does so on behalf of himself as a long-standing transit watcher.  Gabbard has written about the fare gate issue several times since Metro first proposed putting up gates in 2008 after years of […]

Another Turnstile Post

|
Photo: 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 […]

Metro Taking a Look at New Fare Models

|
Editor’s note: I emailed a group of transit advocates to get their reactions to this story.  Only Kymberleigh Richards responded.  She’s quoted below, and her full statement can be read here. Finally, Metro’s fascination with installing fare gates at rail stations, despite near universal ridicule for the project, is starting to make sense. Tomorrow, another […]

TAP is being fixed, but the turnstile debacle will not go away

|
Union Station. Photo: Jim91773/Flickr You might have noticed there has recently been much media attention centered on the problems of Metro’s TAP system and the gating of some of the Metro Rail stations. It all started when reporter Troy Anderson at the Daily News stumbled across this long festering situation that has been the object […]