So I know I’ve already written about the adventure of the Los Angeles subway on my way to jury duty, but I left out one very important thing: the honor system.
In every other place I’ve taken the subway or rail or whatever form of underground there is (such as the weird hybrid that is MUNI…but that’s another post to come), you purchase your ticket and then swipe it to get through the turnstile. Then, when you leave, you either have to swipe again or you just leave. There are many ways to do this, but not in LA. We have to be idiots about it.
The first day I took the metro to jury duty, I bought my ticket and then walked up to the “turnstile.” Only, there was no actual turnstile. It looked like they had put up the turnstile, but then taken out the gate and left the posts. Ticket in hand, I walked up and looked for a place to swipe. There was no place to swipe. There was a round circle on the front of one of the posts that said “TAP here” so I did. Only nothing happened. I stood there like an idiot for a good minute before I watched another passenger just walk straight through. I did the same, but felt I had missed something. I’ve never jumped a turnstile before, but somehow I felt as if that’s what I just did.
Sitting on the train, all I could think of is how dumb of a system this is! Why would I even buy a ticket if I can just walk through? I’m a fairly honest person (despite what people think) and I would do it because I believe that nothing is free and if you are supposed to pay for something you should, but at the same time, I was tempted to not buy a ticket anymore. If I can ride for free, then why wouldn’t I? Especially if other people weren’t paying. It’s not fair to me to pay for everyone else. I might believe that you should pay for things, but I don’t believe I should be paying for a bunch of strangers.
All of these thoughts were going through my head when I was buying my ticket the next day. I ended up paying the $1.25, but not without a lively debate in my head.
It’s a good thing I did, however.
When I got down to the platform and boarded the train, there was an announcement for everyone to have their tickets ready. “Sheriffs will be coming through to check for tickets.” I watched at least three people get up and walk out, only to be grabbed by sheriffs outside the train. I wanted to ask the sheriff a ton of questions when he got to me, but I refrained because he looked like he had enough work to do without me asking a bunch of questions. I watched as several people got pulled off the train and were written citations.
A quick Google search told me that the ticket can be up to $200 and you have to show up to court! Plus, the MTA loses about $5 million a year from fare evasion. There is a debate about whether or not the MTA should spend the money to put in the gates and have people swipe in order to get through. In my opinion, there is no debate. People are dishonest. Even an honest person like me (keep your sniggering to yourself please!) thought of being dishonest simply because the MTA had made it so easy. LA, come on. Why can’t you just look at systems that work and model your system after one of those? Why must you be different and naïve? (I did find out what TAP meant. "Transit Access Pass." Very clever MTA.)
I ended up paying every time I rode. It was not worth $200 and another wasted day in court just to save $1.25.
Although, I am a bit tempted to jump a turnstile next time I’m in NYC.