Should Transit Services Ditch the Turnstile?

Should Transit Services Ditch the Turnstile?

If you take public transit to get where you need to go, you know the awful feeling of swiping your metro card and running full speed into the turnstile. Ouch! So we’ve been wondering, should transit services across the country get rid of these pesky turnstiles?

The main reason that turnstiles and other forms of payment proof exist is to prevent people from stealing a ride on their city’s public transit. Most transit authorities refer to those who jump the turnstiles as “fare evaders.” According to the NY Daily News, in New York City in 2013, almost 25,000 people were arrested for fare evasion. In other words, the people arrested for fare evasion in 2013 in New York City would fill up Madison Square Garden—with 5,000 people left standing on the stage.

So you need the turnstiles, don’t you?

Well, in Norway in 2005, faulty turnstiles that caused some people to get trapped after they paid their metro fare inspired Norwegians to ditch the turnstile altogether.

  • Instead, Norway started selling metro tickets based on an honor-system, with automated options for payment like smartphone apps and reloadable fare cards, and the occasional metro personnel patrolling the train cars and demanding proof of payment.

But wouldn’t that incite a free-for-all? Actually, according to Wired, the new system in Norway led to faster transit travel, less crowding, and no increase in fare evasion. Turns out, when there’s a hefty fine at stake, most humans like to follow the rules!

A similar experiment in California where riders purchased bus tickets before boarding, or tapped their prepaid card at the bus’s door entrance, increased ridership, decreased wait times, and fare evasion decreased from about 10% in 2009 to 7.9% in 2014.

So you’ve heard our demand, transit authorities of America. Bring down the turnstiles! (And upgrade to a more effective method of ticket taking!)

If you’re on the market for a bus, turnstiles not included, click here to check out our available inventory.

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