Comment of the Day: Doing the Math on Metro’s Turnstile Program

Streetsblog doesn’t usually do a “comment of the day” post, but Erik Griswold decided to put his excellent cost/benefit analysis of Metro’s turnstile program in a comment thread for a story published before Thanksgiving. We wanted to make sure everyone saw it.

Long time readers may remember that when Metro suggested adding turnstiles to stations in 2008, they originally said it would help prevent terrorist attacks. After that argument didn’t survive the laugh test, they changed tracks and argued that the agency was losing out on millions of dollars every year because of fare evaders. Thanks to an op/ed in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, we have a good idea of what that cost actually is. Take it away Erik:

According to this story LA Metro really only expects to go from 5% fare evasion to 2% fare evasion.


October 2012 Ridership on the Subway (Red/Purple Lines) was 4,353,213

Multiply by 12 gives us an estimated annual ridership of 52,238,556

Five percent of that ridership is 2,611,927
Two percent of that ridership is 1,044,770

So, with the turnstiles, 1,567,157 more fares will be collected each year.
(Because of course, none of the current fare-dodgers will  try to sneak onto a bus or just stop riding instead…)

Since we know that everyone who travels on LA Metro is required to pay the full fare…

The Grand TOTAL that will be collected each year after “latching” the turnstiles for (1,567,157 passengers at $1.50 each) is:


Now, that is a lot of money, except if you take notice of how much this turnstile fetish has cost to implement.

Wasn’t it $46 million for the turnstiles alone?  More?  How long does it take for this to pay itself off? 25 years?  That’s about when these turnstiles will be ending their service life.  How much is it going to cost to upgrade them to NFC (which is already being installed in many cities right now)?  Plus the cameras, plus the speaker-boxes, and the new TVMs for Metrolink, and on, and on, and on.  And for what?

Can’t be security because pretty much anyone, nefarious or not, has 12-bits in their wallet.

Wait they don’t even need that:…

There will still be over 1 million fare-dodgers on the Subway as admitted above.


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