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No need for arrests on the Orange Line

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Even Flat Stanley pays his Orange Line fare.

The Daily News has an idea. We're not so much into it, but here is how it goes. While Metro contracts with LA County Sheriff's, the LAPD has a man who knows something about enforcing ticketless travelers on transit systems and he happens to be top cop Chief William Bratton. Some will remember that he became famous for his "broken windows" theory that enforced smaller crimes with heavy force (think turnstile-hoppers in NYC subways) eventually leading to a noticeable decrease in more serious crimes.

The theory is a stroke of genius and the newspaper's editorial wants to see it applied to people riding the Orange Line without tickets. Those caught will not be simply ticketed and given hours of community service, but be arrested.

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To deal with the nearly 10percent of Orange Line riders who don't pay a fare, Metro is considering erecting gates and barriers. But those no more stop free-riders than turnstiles do. A better approach is to bust the offenders, which would not only save Metro lost revenues, but would likely reduce crime, too. [Daily News]

Since rail and busways are based on a trust system here in Los Angeles, it leaves too much room for error. If ticketless riders are put behind bars, think about the honest people who bought a ticket, put it in their pocket to only have it fall out somewhere. Now they have a record for being clumsy with a small piece of paper.

In New York, you can't accidentally find your way through a metal barrier. In Los Angeles, the dynamic is different. The trust system mixed with the unpredictable visits from Sheriff's and Fare Inspectors keeps us more on edge. You can't rely anything but luck.