Turnstiles Mean No More Free Ride on Metro

By Hetty Chang
|  Thursday, Sep 15, 2011  |  Updated 4:31 PM PDT
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Turnstiles at several subway stations soon to actually be locked.

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Use any major transit system in the country and you won’t find one quite like Los Angeles County's Metro.

That’s because it’s the only subway in the nation that uses the honor system.

Turnstiles meant to secure the system were installed last year, but they are not fully operational, which makes catching a free ride less of a challenge and more like an invitation for fare evaders.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is revoking that invitation, at least temporarily at four of its subway stations.

At the end of the month, the MTA will begin test-locking turnstiles at the Hollywood/Western and Vermont/Beverly stations on the Red Line and the Wilshire/Normandie and Wilshire/Western stations on the Purple Line.

This round of test closures is the latest attempt by the MTA to transition to a fully electronic pay system.

The agency’s goal is to have all its customers using a debit style plastic card called TAP (Transit Access Pass) that customers load and use for rides and transfers. 
 
The closures will help the agency get a better understanding of how many customers are actually using the electronic TAP system rather than a paper pass, according to Jane Matsumoto, an MTA spokeswoman.
 
“This will help us time how we will incrementally start to lock all gated stations in the future,” she said.
 
The transition to a completely electronic pay system has had its fair share of speed bumps.
 
Municipal bus operators have been slow to adopt a fully electronic system and when the turnstiles were installed not everyone had the electronic payment card.
 
Many riders still don’t.
 
That’s why the turnstiles have remained unlocked, making it easy for riders to skip out on paying fares.
 
Back in August 2010, MTA spokesman Marc Littman told NBCLA, the agency estimates it loses $5.6 million a year because of people skipping fares.

The test closure at the four stations will take place one afternoon a week, over the course of four weeks.

There will be Metro personnel on hand during the closures to assist riders who do not currently use TAP cards.

Testing is scheduled to begin the last week of September.

Follow NBCLA for the latest LA news, events and entertainment: Twitter: @NBCLA // Facebook: NBCLA

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