‘Tap to exit’ program launched at North Hollywood Metro station

Riders disembarking at the North Hollywood Metro station will now need to tap their transit cards in order to exit to the street after LA Metro instituted a new pilot program aimed at targeting fare evaders.

Metro riders are supposed to pay when boarding a bus or train by using the TAP card system, which, as the name implies, can be tapped when entering a station or boarding a bus.

But riders, and even Metro board members, have complained that a large portion of people utilizing the system aren’t paying, and allege police contracted to provide law enforcement services seldom check to confirm that a rider has paid the requisite fare to ride.

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In hopes of cutting down on people abusing the system and riding for free, Metro has installed new technology at its North Hollywood station that will require those who’ve already arrived at their destination to tap their cards in order to leave.

Riders will need to tap when they leave and those who paid ahead of time will be able to exit seamlessly, Metro officials said.

Those that didn’t pay could be stopped at the exit gates and face the possibility of receiving a warning or citation, or even be removed from the system entirely.

Fare gates are latched at Los Angeles Union Station in this photo from June 19, 2013. (Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)
Fare gates are latched at Los Angeles Union Station in this photo from June 19, 2013. (Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

If you didn’t pay initially but have a valid TAP card when you exit, the fare will be deducted when you leave. Metro officials, however, say this is still a violation of Metro’s Code of Conduct.

The change comes during a period of public outcry related to multiple high-profile instances of violent crime across the Metro system targeting riders and bus operators.

Data released from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, one of the law enforcement agencies contracted to provide law enforcement services along the Metro system, found that the vast majority of violent crimes committed between May 2023 and April 2024 were perpetrated by people who didn’t pay the required fare and were using the transit system illegally.

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Metro says this new tap to exit program is being deployed with safety in mind.

“Your safety is our top priority, and we are continually testing new ways we can improve safety across our transit system,” Metro officials wrote last week on the transit agency’s blog The Source. “Everyone is required to TAP to get INTO the rail system, and we are working on ramping up compliance to that.”

Tap to exit is not a revelatory method for increasing fare compliance. Other major transit agencies across the U.S., including in cities like Washington D.C., Atlanta and along the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system.

Metro says more transit security officers will be visible and present at turnstiles during most service hours. Hands-free, gated intercoms that connect with the Metro operations center will also be available.

Additionally, Metro has “increased the visible presence” of its staff at the North Hollywood Station, including Blue Shirts that provide help with ticket machines, Metro Ambassadors that help riders navigate the system and report issues, as well as transit security.

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Earlier this month, the LA Metro board held a press conference in which Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass announced a “surge” of law enforcement personnel to respond to the Metro system in hopes of curbing violent crime.

The tap to exit program is currently in place only at the North Hollywood Station, which serves as the northern terminus of the B Line subway and the eastern terminus of the G Line busway. Metro officials have not released plans to expand the pilot to other stations.

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