Then just last week, the LA Times announced that in order to save money on the Metro subways and light-rails, the MTA is––get this––spending more money on unnecessary turnstiles. They first announced such a consideration last week. So sad. As today's LA Times shows, I'm not the only one who feels this way. Those LA residents who have used the turnstile-free train system relished the freedom and ease of paying for your ticket and almost never being questioned during the ride. It is a beautiful openness that reflects the best of Southern California. Apparently the original reason for not using turnstiles was both a matter of safety and an attempt by the city to encourage ridership. This is all based on the fact that it does indeed feel better to ride public transportation when you are trusted to do your part. I would even say it encourages civic pride, something all too absent in Los Angeles.
Overall, I think the most dismaying part of the decision to add turnstiles is that this decision comes at the same time that plans to extend rail access to the west side are in jeopardy due to NIMBY-ism, and two of LA's major east/west thoroughfares are about to become one-way roads. As my sympathetic observer from today's LA Times states:
There is, finally, something dismaying about the plan in purely symbolic terms. This MTA move to close off the transit system comes at a time when politicians are pushing a variety of misguided plans to allow cars to move more freely through the region. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's support for widening the 405, paired with the new proposal to turn Olympic and Pico boulevards into streets that would act as one-way thoroughfares during rush hour, make it clear that shopworn transit strategies more appropriate for 1950s Los Angeles than the 2007 version still have plenty of political currency.
Word. We are in dire need of better transportation planning. Now.