Thousands of people ride light rail without paying for it. There's no way to completely prevent it; fare evasion is part of operating any mass transit project.
Metro Transit performed an audit last fall to try to get an estimate on the number of freeloading light rail riders its dealing with, and it found between 2.6 and 3.6 percent of riders on the Blue Line aren't paying. On the Green Line that number jumps to somewhere between 4.6 and 9.0 percent.
Overall that translates into somewhere between $15,849 and $28,343 lost per week.
The auditors caution transit ridership varies too much from week to week to extrapolate those numbers out into a figure for yearly losses.
The auditors also speculated there were two main reason why the Green Line has so many more fare dodgers: First, the Green Line is newer, so maybe its riders aren't really sure what the rules are or how to pay for a ticket, and second, it has shorter trips compared to the Blue Line, so fare dodgers might think it's easier to avoid ticket checkers on a quick trip.
Despite losing tens of thousands of dollars per week, the audit did not recommend putting in turnstiles to crack down on fare evasion. Los Angeles spent $46 million to install turnstiles starting in 2009, and it still struggles with the issue. Our sister publication LA Weekly put together a video to explain:
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