MTA criticized for idle $46M turnstile system

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES Turnstiles and gates, the kind that require riders to pay before entering, are in place. The problem is they're not locked.

"We finished installing them last month, so it takes a little time to get this system rolling," said /*Metro*/ spokesperson Marc Littman.

Littman said the turnstiles are designed to work with TAP cards, the Transit Access Pass that was introduced in 1997. But about 40 percent of Metro's passengers are still using paper tickets.

In fact, Metro's ticket machines only sell paper tickets. That means the $46 million turnstile system is largely symbolic in what is still an honor-based system.

"The fact that these gates are here, even though they're not locked, we've seen an uptick in people going to the ticket vending machines and getting their fares," Littman said.

Metro said the turnstile will eventually save $13 million a year in lost revenue.

Until /*Metrolink*/ and all of the county's interconnecting transit providers are using TAP, locking the gates at Metro stations won't work.

"In hindsight, should we have worked out all the deals with the municipal bus operators and Metrolink? Probably," Littman said.

Metro is hoping to have everyone on board in the next two years.

In the meantime, millions of Metro passengers favor the TAP cards.

"You can reload on the phone or online and you can do it monthly like automatic debit, so I never go without it," said Danny Cruz, a commuter from Covina.

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