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MTA to lock long-open gates and turnstiles

February 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
No more "honor system" on Los Angeles subways: The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to lock the gates at dozens of subway stops. The MTA has decided the transit system has lost enough money to people riding for free.

Since 1993, when the subways started running in Los Angeles, there has been an honor system for gates and fares. The system hasn't worked. By one estimate, on the Red Line people ignoring the honor system have cost the MTA at least $4 million a year.

"We found a lot of people either didn't have fare media, or if they had TAP smart cards they weren't tapping," said MTA Spokesman Marc Littman.

That could happen in the next five to six months when the gates will all be locked.

The TAP Card is a pre-paid card that acts like cash when you swipe it. Currently it is estimated that 60 percent of the riders have TAP Cards. Yet 59 to 75 percent do not "tap" to ride.

"If you have cash on it, then what it does is when you tap on it, it deducts the $1.50 or whatever fare required for your category and then allows you through the gate," said Jim Pachan, director of Transit Access Pass technology.

If all goes as planned you would be able to take your TAP Card and get on Foothill Transit, ride Metro, then to Culver City using just the card as one form of payment.

"The universal fare system, the idea behind it is so that you'd be able to ride from agency to agency using one card," said Pachan.

The Metro Board is scheduled to take up the issue next month. If all goes as planned, locks could be on the gates by next August.

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