The days of tissue-thin tickets collected by human attendants are over in Beijing's underground. Riders on Monday were greeted by electronic ticketing with automatic gates.
When Beijing's Line 5 debuted in October last year, riders found out what they could expect, as new electronic gates were installed but not yet unfurled. Travelers in Asia will recognize the mechanisms from Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Besides removing the human factor from ticket sales and collection, a feat accomplished already with debit-based ticketing cards that have been in place for quite a while, the system puts Beijing in league with advanced systems that can use rider data to adjust service.
According to People's Daily:
As the new system requires passengers to check in and out electronically, it records precisely their entry and departing stations. This enables us to accurately record passenger flow on each line and station.
"The subway company can adjust train schedules to ease traffic. This is especially important when the Olympic Games are held in August in Beijing," Zhang said.
I'm looking forward to giving the new system a shot this week.