There is a startling new sight at the subway station at Hollywood and Vine these days, set amid the handsome trappings of vintage film projectors and movie paraphernalia: five subway turnstiles.
Their appearance amounts to an acknowledgment of the failure of the rider honor system that Los Angeles embraced when it began constructing its subway system nearly 20 years ago. This might not exactly come as a news flash to anyone who has traveled the subways of New York or the Washington Metro, but a gateless subway entrance is not the most effective way to motivate riders to pay their carriage.
Los Angeles transit officials say that millions of dollars in annual revenues have been lost because of riders who calculated, reasonably enough, that they could ride the subway free with minimal danger of detection, no matter the occasional deputy sheriff demanding to see a fare card and a $250 fine for violators.
I’m not sure why this is being considered a new development. Those turnstiles have been in place for a while now, and you can definitely walk through them without tapping your fare card.
On occasion, I’ve seen sheriff deputies in the various stations watching to see if people tap their card, and I’ve purposely not tapped mine just to see if I would be stopped; I never was.
I’ve been on the train before and had a deputy come up to scan my tap card, and I’ve had a paid fare so there wasn’t anything to worry about, but this should have happened a long time ago if they were going to consider the rail system to be a source of revenue for the city.