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Metro Subway's Virtual Free Rides End As Turnstyles To Lock Up

Metro Subway's Virtual Free Rides End As Turnstyles To Lock Up
Steve Hymon / Metro

If you believe the New York Times, the arrival of "latched" gates at our subway stations this summer is a "milestone," a sign that L.A. is entering municipal adulthood and becoming more like our vastly superior East Coast counterparts.

Or, it's just something to make most of us shrug:

Metro is officially locking up turnstyles starting tomorrow morning at Union Station's East Portal.

Your mandatory TAP card will open the gates of civilization. And thus L.A. will join the rest of the Western world in using the small fork for salads. Or something like that.

In New York they had "jumping the turnstyles." In L.A. we have walking through the open turnstyles.

Metro's Paul Gonzalez explained it like this to us: Subways are fairly new to Los Angeles, and the transit authority didn't want anything to distract people from using it.

Metro Subway's Virtual Free Rides End As Turnstyles To Lock Up
Calla Cakes / LA Weekly Flickr pool.

So they made it as easy as possible. So easy, in fact, that many people were riding free because getting on the trains was based on the honor system.

But we've come a long way since 1990, when the first Blue Line light rail trains started running from Long Beach to downtown. Gonzalez says Metro trains now see 360,000 boardings a day.

"It's not 1990 anymore," he says.

Get caught without a pass and it's a $250 fine. But patrolling miles of subway is difficult, and it's easy to slip through the cracks.

No more. Sort of.

Metro will slowly roll out the latches at 42 stations starting Wednesday (the locks have already been tested but have not officially been launched) and lasting through February, Gonzalez said.

The next stations to get the latch treatment will include the Wilshire Boulevard and Normandie Avenue stop, July 1, Wilshire and Western Avenue and Vermont Avenue and Beverly Boulevard July 8, he said.

In fact the Purple (above) and Red lines should be done by Aug. 26, Gonzalez said. The latching will then apply to light rail, where possible, too, he said.

That doesn't mean that the system will be locked up tight. There are stops where the design makes locking up the gates unfeasible, Gonzelez said.

The program means that Metro will be in line with its transit partners that are signing on to use the same TAP cards.

In other words, it wouldn't be fare for Metro to neglect its duty to collect fares when its sharing the cash with an increasing number of transit agencies throughout Southern California.

Metro Subway's Virtual Free Rides End As Turnstyles To Lock Up
current events / LA Weekly Flickr pool

TAP is being used by 10 agencies and Metrolink and by this time next year that number will be 25 and will including Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus and Long Beach transit, Gonzalez said:

You'll be able to go from Montebello to the Antelope Valley. We are this large community of people who travel across county lines. If we can make it easy and convenient to use public transit, there's a good chance people will use it.

Aw. L.A.'s all grown up.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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