Tuesday, August 04, 2009

LA Metro installing turnstile fare gates at four subway stations

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Los Angeles’ Metro has begun installing turnstile fare gates at four Metro Red Line subway stations and will monitor progress to make sure passenger traffic moves smoothly while still achieving the goals of preventing fare evasion and improving transit station security.
By the end of August, turnstile fare gates will have been installed at Normandie, Union Station, Westlake and Pershing Square subway stations. Staff will assist passengers as they get accustomed to the gates, which will be set to “free spin” until patrons become familiar with entering stations through a physical barrier.

The barrier system is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. During the period of equipment installation, the special ADA gates will remain open to permit disabled persons and patron-operated devices such as wheelchairs, strollers, walkers and bicycles to have clear access to the paid areas of the stations. Separate emergency access gates also are being installed to comply with fire-life safety regulations.

Metro CEO Art Leahy, this fall, will report monitoring results of the limited installations to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors. If all goes well, Metro will proceed with installing a total of 379 fare gates in all stations on the subway and Metro Green Line and key light rail stations on the Metro Blue and Gold lines. Installation is intended to be completed in six to eight months in early 2010.

Metro is the only subway operator in the country to operate a barrier-free “proof of payment” system where fares are randomly checked by civilian fare inspectors and Sheriff’s officers. The agency estimates it loses about $5 million per year due to fare evasion. Overall, Metro has found a 6 percent fare evasion rate across its rail lines.

Besides preventing fare evasion, the turnstile gates also are a key component of Metro’s emerging regional Transit Access Pass, or TAP program. TAP is an automated, electronic regional fare collection system that will create a multi-modal, multi-operator fare system that, eventually, will allow for seamless travel for L.A. County transit riders.

During the gating installation period, current paper fare media will continue transitioning to TAP smart cards. One-way paper tickets sold at the ticket vending machines in the stations will be replaced with paper, limited-use smart cards to enable cash riders who don’t have regular TAP cards to enter and exit through the fare gates.

Security at Metro Rail stations will be augmented as part of the program. Additional video surveillance cameras will be installed at all gate entrances in the future. Key stations will include the fixed presence of Metro security who will be on-hand to respond to situations or assist patrons where needed.
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