Question. How do you spot someone who has never used the subway in Los Angeles? Answer. They're standing at an unlocked turnstyle trying to swipe a paper ticket to let them through.
As a daily subway rider, this is a scene I witness every so often, and it's no fault to the new patron. Metro is currently amid a very long (and quite controversial) transition of changing how fares work. The system overhaul will eventually mirror other big cities where you buy a ticket at a machine that spits out a card that can be read by a card reader at a gate or turnstile (and also refilled and used over and over again). Until recently, that wasn't an option, and the rail lines were (and still are) on the honor system.
Things are slowly catching up and this week Metro officials will lock turnstiles for the first time in a demonstration project at the Purple Line's Wilshire and Normandie Station in Koreatown.
The exercise from 1 to 4 p.m. will be part of a data gathering process to determine the usage of Metro's Transit Access Pass (TAP) smart cards. Officials want to determine what types of paper tickets and passes are still being used by riders. Those using those older fare media will be "tapped" in by staff and L.A. County Sheriff's Department personnel.
At this point there is no date for locking turnstiles throughout the system, said Kim Upton, a Metro spokesperson. She explained that the agency hopes to identify a goal date based upon results from the test.
The tests will continue each Wednesday for a month from 1 to 4 p.m., each time expanding by one station:
- October 5th: Wilshire/Normandie plus Vermont/Beverly
- October 12th: Wilshire/Normandie and Vermont/Beverly plus Hollywood/Western
- October 19th: Wilshire/Normandie, Vermont/Beverly and Hollywood/Western plus Wilshire/Western