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LA Metro rail turnstile additions mean more revenue collection but will they work?

LA Red Line will soon see turnstiles.

Los Angeles transit reached a new milestone this week with the announcement from MTA that turnstiles would gradually be introduced into subways and light rail stations. Most large transit systems around the country use turnstiles and have for many years. According to a study conducted by the MTA, the Metro system loses about $5.5 to 6 million annually from gate crashers. LA Metro rail has operated on the honor system for 15 years with varying results. By the end of August, turnstile fare gates will have been installed at Normandie, Union Station, Westlake and Pershing Square. Metro staff will offer assistance to passengers as they get used to the gates. The gates will be set to "free spin" so patrons will have a chance to become familiar with the new system and Metro will get a chance to see if traffic flow is affected. The new gates are ADA approved and will allow for wheelchairs, bicycles and strollers. 

Over the next 18 months,  the Red and Green Line stations, where fare evaders are most prominent, are supposed to receive turnstiles at selected stations while the system proves itself. They may be installed on the new Linea de Oro (Gold Line Extension) as it is currently being built and installing them now would prevent retrofit costs in the future. 

The new turnstiles are generating some  controversy among riders. Is the expenditure of $30 million worth it? One rider says that anything that will help get the freeloading transients off the trains will be most welcome. Other riders say that putting the money into increased police presence would make the trains safer and still others believe we need the turnstiles and more police. As the system expands, the need to protect revenue and passengers will expand and the rail riders will undoubtedly see more of what New York and Washington DC have experienced for years. 

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  • Tom Rubin 5 years ago

    The above appears to have been prepared from MTA board reports and press releases, which are factually inaccurate. For a more accurate account, see the outstanding report by Richard Stanger, formerly the CEO of Metrolink, at the LA Transit Coalition web site (this site does not allow URL's - sorry).
    First, while almost all U.S. HEAVY RAIL systems (NYC "subway," the Chicago "L," DC's Metrorail) use gated fare systems, they are not used in any U.S. COMMUTER RAIL systems (Sounder, the Long Island Railway) and are rare in LIGHT RAIL systems (Central Link).
    The fare lost is significantly overstated by MTA, which, for unknown reasons, costed the lost at the full adult fare, while the actual fare/boarding is under half that.
    The MTA calculation also fails to consider the considerable cost of station attendants, which are a requirement with gated systems. It takes about four employees to staff one station, more in stations with multiple entrances.

  • Fred Green 5 years ago

    The headline is assuming facts not in evidence.

    There is no assurance that the turnstiles will increase fare revenue.

    The system might lose riders because they don't wanna put up with the turnstiles. The revenue will then go down.

    These turnstiles are a bad idea and are going to cost 80 million in taxpayer funds. and they won't increase revenue. Fare beaters and cheaters will continue to cheat the system. Even New York has a certain level of fare evasion which is not significantly lower than our currentl LA level (about 5% to 6%).