By Kevin Cheberenchick, July 22, 2014
For any public transportation system to thrive, safety, speed,
affordability and convenience must be optimized. These reasons are why
buses are inevitably doomed to fail. Like private cars, public buses
will also get stuck in traffic, will be limited by increasing gasoline
prices and will be susceptible to motor vehicle accidents.
These problems, however, do not affect a metro rail line. The Los Angeles Metro Rail will never be susceptible to gasoline prices,
are much safer than cars and cannot get stuck in traffic. While a rail
system has some intrinsic advantages, the L.A. Metro system is lacking.
But there are several technological and service innnovations that could
make the L.A. Metro truly great, for example:
1. Stop Notification Lights
There are multiple things that the L.A. rail system currently offers,
but does not do consistently well. One such example is their intercom
system. It's a game of Russian roulette as to whether or not they will
announce what station riders are at. There are two ways to fix this
problem. First, fix the intercoms and make sure the rail employees
announce the station or play the automated voice message every time.
Second, implement LED lights on the metro line map to show which stop
the train is at. The light will be lit when the train is stopped at the
corresponding station. The new map lighting will additionally make the
system friendly to the deaf and hearing-impaired.
2. RFID & NFC Pay Service
With radio frequency identification (RFID) and near field
communication (NFC), it is more convenient for people to be able to use
their own credit card or cell phone as their pass onboard the metro
rail. In New York, the Mass Trasit Authority (MTA) successfully tested a
program allowing the use of MasterCard PayPass and Visa PayWave. Implementing a similar system in Los Angeles should be doable.
3. Cell Phone App Request Service
Ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft destroy
traditional taxis because the smartphone app-based companies know when
and where a person needs transportation. This same logic can be applied
to the metro system. When someone pays for a metro ride at a certain
station, it should send a ping to the metro rail driver telling him or
her to stop at that station. Then, via phone or through a display at the
metro station, a rider should be able to inform the rail driver where
he or she wants to go. This would be most effective during nighttime
hours, when ridership is lower. It would also speed up service because
trains would not have to stop at every station, stop free loaders
because the metro could only be requested after you paid and would allow
the metro to stay open later than its current 2:00 a.m. closing time.
4. Ramp Gates
A portion of subway-related deaths consists of suicides committed by
jumping in front of an oncoming train. Ramp gates will prevent suicides -
one of the top fifteen
causes of death - and will also serve as a terrorism and crime
deterrent. Los Angeles County has some of the country's highest train
death rates, especially for suicides by train. New York's MTA has already expressed interest in starting a pilot program to install platform screen doors.
5. Underground Wi-Fi and 4G
On June 26, 2014 at 8:29PM, I was waiting for the Metro Red Line when
someone tried to use the emergency box at the Hollywood/Highland
station. When the person pressed the button, no one answered. This
served as a realization to me and all other bystanders that the Metro
Rail’s emergency system is dangerously lacking. For a moment, it made us
In 2011,the MTA began to provide underground cellular phones
with voice and data service and free Wi-Fi to passengers in New York
City. Underground Wi-Fi and 4G can increase safety by allowing
individuals to tweet, text and call in the event of an emergency.
Additionally, it will allow people to be entertained by YouTube videos
on their phones or respond to work emails during their daily commute.
6. Expansion to Airports, Colleges and Popular Destinations
The size of L.A. Metro is depressingly small, with a meager 80
stations compared to New York's 421. If the metro system cannot get you
where you want to go, there is simply no reason to take it. Therefore,
expanding the metro is vital to increasing its ridership and
convenience. College students and tourists make up a large portion of
the metro's potential ridership. Guaranteeing the expansion with the Regional Connector, Red Line to Burbank Airport, Gold Line Ontario Extension and Airport Metro Connector is necessary. Riders should also be able to eventually take the rail to UCLA, and eventually Disneyland.
7. More Secure Turnstiles
The previous improvements mentioned will cost money and one way to
maximize revenue is to minimize freeloaders. Floor-to-ceiling paid
turnstile entrance gates and floor-to-ceiling paid handicap entrances
will prevent people from jumping over the current mid-level turnstiles
and getting a free ride. Additionally, creating exit-only turnstile
lanes will prevent freeloaders from squeezing through when others are
leaving. Lastly, one of the reasons why the metro is so slow is that it
stops so that police officers can check to make sure everyone paid for
the ride. No one wants to take a public transportation system that is
slower than driving in LA traffic and the metro rail is currently slower
regardless of time or location of trip.
All of these improvements could make L.A. Metro exceptionally better.
Expanding service will also increase ridership by reaching more
consumers, and implementing safety and freeloader preventions will save
money by reducing the number of paid security officers. Hopefully, one
day, L.A. Metro Rail will be comparable to New York’s or London’s metro systems.