Thursday February 28, 2008
The Metro Board also approved existing Cubic contract amendments for $12 million over a 10-year period for system maintenance, and $10 million for station modifications needed to relocate existing stand-alone ticket validators and civil work for gating Metro Rail stations. Installation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant system should take 18 to 24 months to complete.
At the direction of the Board, Metro also will seek ways to offset gating costs through various state bond monies and Department of Homeland Security funding, and will provide monthly committee reports to regularly track project timelines and costs.
Currently, Metro operates a barrier-free “honor system.” The agency loses $5.5 million per year due to fare evasion. Overall, Metro has found a 5 percent fare evasion rate across all of its rail lines. The new gating system could recover $3-6 million annually to offset these losses as well as realize significant annual savings on fare inspector costs. Based on current forecasts, the savings enabled by the system will begin to pay for itself in the fourth year of full system operation.
Barrier gates are also 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 for L.A. County transit riders. Metro and municipal operators are installing new equipment on both buses and in rail stations to prepare for TAP. In addition to Metro, Culver CityBus became the first regional operator to enable “seamless travel” on TAP this week. CityBus riders can use the TAP pass to transfer seamlessly to Metro using the debit card feature.
Patrons riding additional municipal operators will also soon be able to easily “tap” the fare box or validator with their TAP “smart” card to pay their fares. The system will create more seamless travel for Metro and municipal patrons by allowing them to transfer from one operator to the next, and between transit modes.
Metro’s customer centers have been outfitted to accommodate the sale of Metro monthly and weekly TAP passes. Also selling these Metro products are Foothill Transit and LADOT Stores to support getting TAP into the hands of Metro pass riders.
“Gates are a natural evolution of Los Angeles County’s maturing Metro Rail system,” said Pam O’Connor, Santa Monica City Councilmember and Metro Board Chair. “They will help us keep pace with the demands of our fast growing rail ridership while ushering in the newest improvements in universal fare technology to streamline travel for our customers.”
A total of 379 fare gates will be installed on all subway and selected light rail stations, including the yet-to-be-completed Mariachi, Soto and Atlantic stations on the Metro Gold Line Eastside extension.
“Metro remains the only subway operator in the country to operate a barrier-free system,” said Yvonne B. Burke, Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board member. “That freedom has come at a significant cost to the agency’s bottom line as a result of fare scofflaws. This initiative will pay for itself, makes TAP possible, and further hardens our system to potential security threats.”
Security at stations will be augmented as part of the program. Additional video surveillance cameras will be installed at all gate entrances, and attendants will be on-hand to respond to situations or assist patrons where needed.
The TAP barrier gates will enable Metro to obtain more reliable and accurate information about ridership trends on its rail lines. Gross trip counts, point-to-point ridership and time of day information will help the agency more effectively manage ridership peaks throughout the rail system.
Once in place, the gates are expected to reduce the need for civilian fare inspectors, allowing the agency to flexibly make needed personnel redeployments when and where necessary. Metro could potentially save as much as $7 million per year in contracted fare inspector costs replaced in part with more cost-effective Metro Transit Security personnel. Sworn law enforcement would also be freed of fare checking responsibilities at gated stations, allowing them to focus primarily on station security.
Gates will accommodate disabled patrons, children and patron-operated devices such as wheelchairs, strollers, walkers and bicycles, as well as emergency egress and access for fire-life safety devices. Gates will also provide for better control of station entry and egress, avoiding confusion and chaos to patrons as new rail lines open and bus and rail service in the region increases ridership. Lastly, gates promote new and innovative ways to consider potential revenue generation with bank cards and issuers as well as offers opportunities for different fare policies
For additional Metro information and online transit trip planning, visit WWW.METRO.NET. For transit trip planning assistance over the phone, call 1-800-COMMUTE.