Friday, August 27, 2010

TAP Cards and Turnstiles

Metro's electronic fare system, TAP, was in the news again for the cost of installing locking turnstiles that are still not being fully utilized and the slow adoption of riders from paper to electronic. Although, many of the assertions made in the Daily News article are true there is little doubt that the majority of other public transit entities in the U.S. struggled through the same issues when they transferred from paper to electronic fare systems. Other systems do have advantages though to LA's Metro including having staffed stations that allow for confused riders and problems to be addressed in real-time by a Metro employee and a much larger rail system that was built with turnstiles originally in mind. I never quite understood what made Metro choose to start with a honor system except for that when the Red Line was built it was feared to be rarely used by anyone let alone have to worry about fare evasion. As the network has grown and lines are added the increased need for oversight has made this system a problem. As a regular rider, I take offense to being constantly asked by Sheriffs and fare checkers for my proof of transit. I often see them paying more careful attention to patrons that one might expect to be potential fare evaders: teens on skateboards, individuals that are asleep, etc. Without a system that ensures every rider has paid the profiling will continue.

As for the article's questioning as to why more riders haven't adopted TAP, I believe that until paper tickets are no longer an option for students and seniors, there will be little motivation to move to the new system. People enjoy what is familiar and will not change unless forced. With the increase of use there will hopefully be more outlets to purchase a TAP and remove the burden of finding an outlet near you. And maybe one day soon, Metro will be able to lock those pretty new turnstiles once and for all.

No comments: