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L.A. (Finally) Serious On Fare Cheats?


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#1 WhoozOn1st

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 08:08 PM

Rolls around every couple of years...

Metro pushes again for lockdown on fare evaders

"There's an open secret about getting on the subway in Los Angeles you don't really have to pay the fare.

"Turnstiles are unlocked, security is lax and commuters often hop over or pass through undetected.

"Citing millions of dollars in lost revenue, transportation officials have been wrestling with the issue for years. On Thursday, they made their most forceful push yet to lock the gates to anyone without a ticket at a swath of rail stations.

"The effort is the latest bid by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to fix a disjointed regional ticketing network that allows some a free ride while creating problems for others who choose to pay."

Edited by WhoozOn1st, 27 February 2012 - 05:34 PM.

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#2 MattW

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:59 PM

Yaroslavsky said one reason Metro officials failed to lock the gates sooner is because they were operating under the false assumption that only 3% of riders were evading fares.

Since when is any percent of fare loss acceptable?
Unless there's a system with a better gate system, I think transit agencies should look at the MARTA style of gates: large plastic barriers too low to crawl under, too tall to jump.
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#3 Ryan

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 11:24 PM

Since when is any percent of fare loss acceptable?

Whenever the cost of enforcement is greater than the loss from fare evasion.
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#4 sechs

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 11:33 PM

Since they don't seem to have a fix for paper tickets (sounds like poor planning on their transit card), why aren't they on a proof of payment system? Fare inspectors aren't that expensive.

#5 Trogdor

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 09:43 AM

Since they don't seem to have a fix for paper tickets (sounds like poor planning on their transit card), why aren't they on a proof of payment system? Fare inspectors aren't that expensive.


They are on a proof of payment system.
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#6 Eric S

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 10:17 AM

Is the issue that there is not enough fare inspection, so fare evasion is higher than on other POP-system properties? (And, as Ryan mentions, has LACMTA determined which would be costlier, a pure POP-system [including the costs of fare inspection and fare evasion] or some hybrid system [again including the costs of fare inspection and fare evasion, plus maintaining the faregate/farecard/turnstyle system]?)

Is there an overall plan for the faregates/turnstyles? Would the Purple and Red Lines (and Green Line?) be a traditional turnstyle system, with the Blue, Gold, and Expo Lines being a hybrid POP/turnstyle system?

#7 sechs

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 09:57 PM


Since they don't seem to have a fix for paper tickets (sounds like poor planning on their transit card), why aren't they on a proof of payment system? Fare inspectors aren't that expensive.


They are on a proof of payment system.

Once again, fare inspectors.

They're really on the honor system.

#8 Trogdor

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 10:32 PM

When I was there last week, they had cops checking for valid fares as people got off at Union Station.
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#9 Anderson

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 02:32 AM

Yaroslavsky said one reason Metro officials failed to lock the gates sooner is because they were operating under the false assumption that only 3% of riders were evading fares.

Since when is any percent of fare loss acceptable?
Unless there's a system with a better gate system, I think transit agencies should look at the MARTA style of gates: large plastic barriers too low to crawl under, too tall to jump.


None is desirable, but there's a simple fact that sometimes it is more expensive to issue (and collect) a fine on a fare cheat than it is to simply let him go. If you have to spend $100,000 to make sure that you collect that final $5 fare, it's not worth it to chase that fare. Also, do consider that most of your anti-cheat factors that aren't barriers work more on deterrence than on the enforcement itself.
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#10 George Harris

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 01:54 PM


Yaroslavsky said one reason Metro officials failed to lock the gates sooner is because they were operating under the false assumption that only 3% of riders were evading fares.

Since when is any percent of fare loss acceptable?
Unless there's a system with a better gate system, I think transit agencies should look at the MARTA style of gates: large plastic barriers too low to crawl under, too tall to jump.

None is desirable, but there's a simple fact that sometimes it is more expensive to issue (and collect) a fine on a fare cheat than it is to simply let him go. If you have to spend $100,000 to make sure that you collect that final $5 fare, it's not worth it to chase that fare. Also, do consider that most of your anti-cheat factors that aren't barriers work more on deterrence than on the enforcement itself.

Your last sentence should be the main point. You must send the message that the risk of evading fares is simply not worth it because the chance of getting caught is high and the penalty for it when you do get caught is both high and as near inevitable as our judicial system can make it.

#11 MattW

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 02:28 PM

Unless I misread the article though, the faregates were simply left unlocked which led to many free riders. How much would locking the faregates have actually cost? Sure people would still have ridden free, but that's like saying you shouldn't fence a railroad right of way because someone who wants to tresspass will still find a way around it.
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#12 Trogdor

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 05:24 PM

Unless I misread the article though, the faregates were simply left unlocked which led to many free riders. How much would locking the faregates have actually cost? Sure people would still have ridden free, but that's like saying you shouldn't fence a railroad right of way because someone who wants to tresspass will still find a way around it.


Part of the problem, as I gather, is that they can't lock the faregates until they go to 100% smartcard technology. Passengers who don't have smartcards buy a paper ticket or pass from the vending machine. Those are not smart cards, and do not have any kind of magnetic stripe on them (nor do the faregates have mag stripe readers). They could theoretically convert to the system MARTA uses, where even the paper tickets have a smart chip in them.

So, it's not the cost of locking the faregates that is the problem, it's the cost of converting 100% of the riders to smart card/smart chip technology.
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#13 johnny.menhennet

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 06:49 PM

I know that this is a big problem. I actually see many more metro police officers than you would think. Any time I ride out of LAX, I use the red line from Universal City, since my grandma lives like a quarter mile from that station. On multiple occasions, we have seen people arrested for fare evasion. My grandma always try a little more than is typical to be nice and helpful to everyone, and has gone and bought a ticket from the vending machine, walked up to a police officer with a suspect, and said "I think this is her ticket. I found it on the ground over there." It's pretty funny. As nice as she is, she does not like the Metro Police, because a year or so ago, one was doing random checks and asked her to see the ticket. She presented it, but it was dark in the tunnel, and he misread the date. This was on a November 8th about two years ago. The dumb officer tried to arrest her because he thought it said November 6th. She was infuriated and took him to court, and won. So as nice as she is, she's been testy with the Metro Police since, which is okay with me. Posted Image

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#14 sechs

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 10:56 PM

When I was there last week, they had cops checking for valid fares as people got off at Union Station.

Maybe if they hired fare inspectors to do that job, it would make a lot more financial sense.

#15 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 11:24 PM

All I know is that I would not want to be in a confrontational position like a fare inspector in a country so heavily armed and desensitized to random acts of violence. Did you ever hear what happened in Phoenix when they began installed speeding cameras on the freeways? From what I heard the blue collar maintenance folks apparently became targets of murder in retaliation.

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#16 leemell

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 01:10 PM


When I was there last week, they had cops checking for valid fares as people got off at Union Station.

Maybe if they hired fare inspectors to do that job, it would make a lot more financial sense.


There are some deputies from the LASD's Transportation Services Bureau checking tickets, but most are TSB's fare checkers with deputy backup.

#17 Sup

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 09:35 PM

Sort of reminds me of the trolley system in my area. People could board the trolley without a ticket if there weren't any inspectors checking inside at the time. Whenever I ride the trolley nowadays, there seems to be less inspection than before. I'm not sure whether or not that will change soon.

#18 sechs

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 11:03 PM



When I was there last week, they had cops checking for valid fares as people got off at Union Station.

Maybe if they hired fare inspectors to do that job, it would make a lot more financial sense.


There are some deputies from the LASD's Transportation Services Bureau checking tickets, but most are TSB's fare checkers with deputy backup.

Maybe the question is, why is the sheriff doing this; and, more importantly, if the sheriff is doing this, then why is the MTA shelling out money to put in this system, when more enforcement by sheriff would do the job?

#19 WhoozOn1st

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 03:14 AM

Maybe the question is, why is the sheriff doing this; and, more importantly, if the sheriff is doing this, then why is the MTA shelling out money to put in this system, when more enforcement by sheriff would do the job?

Regarding the first question, the sheriff is "doing this" because Metro's own security force had the responsibility taken away following a series of highly publicized incidents that revealed its officers to be ill-trained, incompetent, and on occasion downright brutal in dealing with the riding public.

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#20 leemell

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 10:03 AM




When I was there last week, they had cops checking for valid fares as people got off at Union Station.

Maybe if they hired fare inspectors to do that job, it would make a lot more financial sense.


There are some deputies from the LASD's Transportation Services Bureau checking tickets, but most are TSB's fare checkers with deputy backup.

Maybe the question is, why is the sheriff doing this; and, more importantly, if the sheriff is doing this, then why is the MTA shelling out money to put in this system, when more enforcement by sheriff would do the job?


The MTA has no security force any more, MTA contracted with the Sheriff's Department. The
Sheriff is not doing more because they were contracted to do this much. The likelyhood is that the MTA's' analysis sees locking gates as more cost effective than increasing the Sheriff's role.




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