No free rides: Turnstiles coming to a Metro station near you

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Star-News Opinion Editor Steve Scauzillo had an interesting Gold Line experience this weekend: Someone actually checked to see that he had purchased a ticket.

Four sheriff’s deputies boarded the train at Del Mar Station and spoke to everyone on board. … No more scofflaws.

Metro has been conducting more ticket checks to detect “fare evasion.”

To that end, Metro is also installing turnstile fare gates at four Metro Red/Purple Line subway stations.

If those installations are successful, which they are expected to be, you will soon see turnstiles in every single subway and light-rail station as early as 2010.

Metro says it is the only subway operator with a
barrier-free “proof of payment” system — basically, an honor system — where fares are randomly (and rarely) checked
by employees and sheriff’s deputies.

Metro officials say the agency loses about $5 million each year due to non-paying riders.

(Photo: Metro Gold Line riders at the Del Mar Station in Pasadena. Walt Mancini / Staff)