Management & Operations

L.A. Metro testing security tech to crackdown on fare evasion

Posted on February 23, 2016

To help reduce fare evasion and to better safeguard public funds, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) announced that testing is underway on two key innovations.

Metro’s Video Analytics software monitors activity at stations through existing video surveillance cameras. The software then highlights behavior that is out of the norm and alerts security personnel.

“The Video Analytics software is currently in its “training” phase during which it monitors thousands of riders tapping their TAP cards and entering the system,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “If the software detects something out of the ordinary, such as a person jumping over the turnstile or using the ADA access gate without tapping, the system highlights it with a red box and sends video alerts to security personnel at that station who can conduct fare checks.”

Metro is also upgrading its handheld Mobile Phone Validators (MPV) with law enforcement-specific, GPS-enabled software. An MPV is a Samsung smartphone with the ability to detect if a TAP card has been used to pay for transit fare. The new upgrades also show the location where the MPV is being used.

“On the Metro system, conditions change constantly and law enforcement needs tools to assess needs and redeploy resources accordingly,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Transportation Policing Division Chief Ronene Anda. “As wireless Internet is rolled out on the subway system, the MPV upgrades will help our deputies get to where they are needed as never before.”

The Metro system was originally designed in the 1980s as a “proof of fare” system in which, proof of a valid fare must be held by the passenger and provided to law enforcement when asked.

Over the past 15 years the security environment has changed, compelling Metro to augment systems to protect against threats that were not originally envisioned.

“We are in a time when we must guarantee the safety of places where large groups of people congregate and a transit station is one of those places,” said Metro Executive Officer of System Safety and Law Enforcement Alex Wiggins. “The system is inherently safer when we monitor access to our platforms, buses and trains.”

There have been other recent security upgrades on the Metro system. In October 2015, Metro introduced three new technologies, SkyWatch Tower, Security Kiosk and LexRay.

SkyWatch tower is a portable security platform that can be used at Metro parking lots and structures countywide. The tower can be raised to 24 feet high and provide 360 degree views for observers and CCTV cameras. Nine new security kiosks will bring necessary law enforcement resources such as desktop computers, landline telephones and two-way radios to nine Metro Rail stations. LexRay allows law enforcement to see live feeds from Metro security cameras on a smartphone or tablet, giving deputies a preview of what might be encountered while they are responding to a call.

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