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LA Metro and Metrolink find solution to rider transfer issue

An environmental group that blocked a $237 million commuter rail project in Southern California has agreed to drop its lawsuit. The group opposed a plan to build a Riverside-to-Perris extension of the Metrolink regional train system. (File photo: Passengers board Metro subway trains during rush hour on June 3, 2008 in Los Angeles.)
David McNew/Getty Images
Los Angeles County Metro and the Metrolink regional commuter rail system have worked out a way to ease passengers' transfers between the two systems after Metro locks its turnstiles this summer. The effort will start on the Red and Purple subway lines.

Commuter rail uses paper tickets. Light rail and subways use plastic “TAP” farecards. And riders sometimes transfer between systems without paying. That could get complicated when one of those systems begins to latch its turnstiles later this year.

David Sutton of Los Angeles County Metro said that agency and Metrolink have developed a solution: a new “TAP”-enabled paper ticket.

“This ticket will be dispensed from their machines, but the unique thing about it – it will have a smart chip embedded in that will enable their passengers to get through our latched gates," Sutton said. "If it all goes well, most customers won’t even know what happened.”

Metrolink, the regional commuter rail system, is testing the new tickets to work out any kinks before it distributes them.

"We're going to be doing some more testing in February, making sure customers can get through our gates, going through scenarios such as, you know, I loaded my card and it's not working, what do I do?" Sutton said. 

Metro, operator of the light rail and subway lines, plans to latch station gates starting in June. The first phase of the project will be the Red and Purple subway lines. Sutton said Metro plans to latch the gates at those stations by the end of August.