Free Rides on L.A. Subways End as Turnstiles Lock

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LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Starting on Wednesday, the honor system that has been in place for Los Angeles’ subways will go away, and riders will be required to pay.

Metro officials planned to lock the turnstiles at the subway entrances below Union Station at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.


(File photo)

Riders will have to swipe their prepaid TAP cards across readers at the entrance.

Only people with cards loaded with enough money for the $1.50 basic fare will be allowed beyond the turnstiles to ride the Red Line and Purple Line subways.

Riders caught not paying the fare could get slapped with a $250 ticket.

Officials planned to lock 15 gates at Red and Purple Line stations by the end of the summer. The last station to be locked will be 7th/Metro on Aug. 26.

The Red and Purple lines run through downtown Los Angeles to North Hollywood and Koreatown, respectively.

Some 360,000 passengers ride them each day, with the Red Line being the busiest.

Under the old system, riders were expected to pay the fare and then show their ticket to a sheriff’s deputy on the platform or train, if asked to do so.

Metro expected to recoup $7 million from fare evaders on the Red Line alone by this time next year, officials said.

The turnstiles will also be locked at a number of Gold Line stations starting on Oct. 14. That line runs from Pasadena to Union Station and East L.A.

Some lines, including parts of the Blue Line, cannot accommodate turnstiles, but authorities planned to step up patrols for fare evaders.

Metro’s partner, Metrolink Commuter Rail, will also be cracking down on passengers who don’t pay.

It runs trains to Union Station from San Bernardino, Riverside, Lancaster and Ventura and Orange County.

Metrolink passengers can ride light rail lines for free with their tickets or monthly passes, which now come with “EZ TAP” chips embedded in them.

Metrolink has hired security officers to check tickets aboard its trains. It planned to step up enforcement efforts starting on July 1.

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