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No More Free Metro Rides, Subway 'Honor System' Meets End Of The Line

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No More Free Rides: The L.A. Metro announced plans that use of the TAP card will be mandatory. (Photo by ~db~ the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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It's the end of the line for freeloaders on the L.A. subway: As of Wednesday, you'll need a TAP card to get past those turnstiles.

Previously, the subway had an honor system, in which you didn't actually need to pay to access the trains. Naturally, that system has been abused, with untold amounts of people riding for free.

Entrances leading to the Red and Purple lines will be latched this week, KPCC reports. Commuters must buy a transit access pass—better known as a TAP card—to unlock them.

"You tap it on the sensor which is right on the turnstile, and then it unlatches the gate and you walk through," Paul Gonzales, who works with the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, explained.

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The agency has tested the gates over the past few months and sure enough, it resulted in more revenue once people had no choice about paying. "We found in most cases that we're seeing fewer riders during the testing period but more revenue," Gonzales said. "So what does that tell us? It tells us that there are a number of free riders—people who are not tapping their cards or not buying fares."

Metro expects the new system will result in about $7 million more in annual revenue.

They're touting the ease of use of the card, which will automatically deduct the right fare with each swipe. "You will literally be able to go from San Bernardino to Santa Monica, from Lancaster to Long Beach using the same fare card," said Gonzales. "You won't have to fumble in your pocket for change."

Metro officials plan to lock gates at all of its Red and Purple line stations within the next few months, according to KPCC. Light rail stations on the Gold Line and on the Green Line will start locking their gates by the end this year and Blue Line will start doing so in early 2014.

Metro's site explains further and promises that down the road, TAP cards will be "paying dividends through special incentives/discounts, promotional offers and loyalty rewards."