Metro Orange Line fare evaders cited during crackdown


New signs are being posted at the 18 Metro Orange Line stations telling riders to tap their TAP cards at validators to deduct the appropriate fare before getting on a bus. Sheriff's patrols are also being beefed up at the stations.

Amanda Wahlquist with the sheriff's department wrote more than a dozen citations on Tuesday and said she heard a variety of excuses, such as, "I was running for the bus and I had to catch the bus" or "I thought you pay when you get off."

If you try to get a free ride on Metro and get caught, you'll be fined more than the price of a monthly pass. Metro will play videos onboard the buses to explain the citations and fines that fare evaders will face.

About 30,000 people ride the Orange Line on a weekday. An audit on the Orange line in December showed 22 percent of riders did not pay and 9 percent did not have enough money on their TAP card for the fare. But Metro says those numbers have improved in the last two months.

"Enforcement works. Education works. And we're doing both of those things as you can see today," Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian said Tuesday.

Officials are regulating fare evaders by using a cellphone that reads a chip in the TAP card, which stores a rider's ride and fare history. It indicates whether or not a person has enough money on the card to catch a ride. Riders are supposed to pay before they board, because the Orange Line buses don't have a fare box onboard.

Metro says the TAP card system was designed to get people on and off the bus quickly.

"You can go anywhere in L.A. County on Metro trains and buses and we want people to come out and use the system. But we have to pay the bills, we have to pay the employees, we have to buy fuel," said Metro CEO Art Leahy.

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