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LA Metro ticket honor system coming to end

A man going through a subway turnstile is seen in this undated file photo.

May 25, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Locking gates are coming to L.A.'s Metro stations, forcing cheating riders to start buying tickets or just stop riding.

Metro says the idea of locking turnstiles has been in works for three or four years now. A trial run a few months back showed revenue at certain stations skyrocketed as much as 32 percent -- a big indicator riders were not honoring the honor system.

An estimated $4 million a year is lost to those riders, and it is because of those losses that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has voted to end the honor system. Those turnstiles which now spin freely will soon be locked and will only open with a paid fare. Riders can expect to see the changes beginning this summer.

"The Wilshire/Normandy subway station will start as early as late June, and then other stations will be phased in around August or September. By December, all the subways will be locked and a number of the light rail stations," said Metro spokesman Marc Littman.

Many riders say locking the gates like every other major city does may actually save some riders money, like Chicago-native Garon Atencio, who was initially confused by the free-spinning turnstiles.

"I've gone through a few times when I first moved here cause I was like why doesn't it stop me? Being from Chicago I'm used to it stopping me. So I was like 'Do you have to pay?'" said Atencio.

Riding without a ticket could lead to a $250 fine. But locked gates will make it harder to get on a train illegally -- the proverbial end of the line for fare jumpers.

"I'm surprised they haven't locked them before. Because where there's a will, there's a way. People are going to try it. They have to make it so they can't," said Melissa Gallegos of North Hollywood.

Officials say the changes will take several months because they have to integrate the TAP card system with all the other mass transit systems. In addition to Metro, there is Metro Link and 16 municipal bus operators in L.A. County. The TAP card will soon be the only option, paper tickets are going away.

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