Turnstile terror

Turnstiles at Peel metro

Turnstiles at Peel metro

As students were forced into the new Opus smart card system when their reduced-fare passes expired on Oct. 31, the STM took the opportunity to change the configuration of turnstiles at metro stations, switching more to the newer smart-card machines.

Instead of one or two newer turnstiles and the rest using the old punch-card and magnetic-strip systems, the ratio is now reversed with a single older turnstile and the rest on the new system. Besides working with different cards, I’ve noticed the newer turnstiles are also lower, which means that instead of being whacked in the gonads when the turnstile locks up, you’re smacked in the legs.

The change quickly began irritating riders using the magnetic bus passes, who have already taken to writing letters about their frustrations.

I’m going to miss quite a bit about the older turnstiles when they’re eventually phased out entirely. Instead of reading miniature punch cards, they’re scanning RFIDs. Instead of a welcoming two-tone acknowledgment of a fare paid, there is only a single soulless beep.

15 thoughts on “Turnstile terror

  1. DAVE ID

    WHINNERS! New tech always brings on the whinners. The cards work great I don’t know why people didn’t just get them right away instead of waiting till the last possible minute… oh yeah, because people are wussies and fear change.

    Even though my firm developped the system for the MTC anyone knows I wouldn’t shy away from beating it like a rented mule if I didn’t like it. But the card works great, has fundtionnalities, like adding tickets on your monthly pass, etc. What’s wrong with the turnstiles? One less problem for my nuts. I mean come on, if you can’t use them without bodily harm, you need to slow down and focus on things. It’s not that hard. With practice I’m sure you can do it.

  2. Fagstein Post author

    I still use the old magnetic card, simply because it cost less. Instead of paying for the pass and the card, I just paid for the pass. I’ll switch over when I’m forced to.

  3. dan

    the new system is much less environmentally friendly than the old one. when you buy six tickets, you’re given six separate tickets, each the size of a credit card rather than the old strip of six which went into the machine. within a few days of the system being introduced, the cards were littered across the ground because there’s nowhere convenient to recycle them within the métro. i think your bias is a bit too obvious here, dave.

  4. N. Syed

    Anyone notice that the new OPUS cards are slower, I can swipe my CAM without stopping but using the OPUS I have to slow down or stop while waiting for the yellow/ green light.

    There are now concerns about the OPUS reloading machines about fraud and network failures. Anyone could set up some debit card scam using these machines as they are completely in the open. And on Nov. 1 I noticed that the machine was out of order at Pl. St. Henri.

    Some bugs have to be worked out before everyone has to use it.

  5. John

    I don’t know how the new plastic cards but the magnetic stripe is causing a lot of pollution. I see them littering the streets more and more. They are more easy to spot than the older punch tickets lying on the ground. I would also assume that the new plastic coated magnetic cards are less biodegradable than the old punch tickets.

  6. Richard

    The machine at Pl. St Henri is often on the fritz, as are machines at other stations. I wonder; can the changeur fill up your card, with Interac?

  7. Josh

    Dan: I’ve heard that the intentions on the part of the STM were to have ONE of the new tickets equal six of the old ones.

    If you look on the back of the new tickets, you’ll see that where it says “validation”, there’s space for more than one validation. They intend to eventually be able to make it so that you can pay for six tickets, and then they give you one, which you can use six times, but there’s some sort of technical problem right now preventing this.

  8. Jean Naimard

    From what I’ve noticed so far:
    — The changeur CAN reload your Opus card (I call it «la carte qui gratte» – get it??? :) ) in case the vending machine is on the fritz, or one of the $20 bills you have gets rejected by the bill reader.
    — The bus and turnstile readers are indeed slow. Bus boarding is notoriously slower. Pity the one who slides in a mag-ticket with a crease, he’ll spend a lot of time diddling with his ticket.
    — The “turnstile” by the changeur is nicely wider, so you can go through with luggage or your bike. That’s about one of the few plusses of the system. But those who think that the two butterfly gates design is “innovative”, it’s very similar to the system used in San-Francisco… What sucks, though, is that the green button to open it to exit the system is often disabled so you either have to lift your bike when you go out, or have to beg for the changer to open the gate at the extreme end of the turnstiles.
    — Even though you could (eventually – no word yet on when that will be possible) register your card so if you lose it, you do not lose the pass privilege, they could have provided a suitable writing surface to write your own name and phone number. In the meanwhile, I preciously keep my paper receipt which shows my RFID card serial number as ultimate proof of payment. Too bad the STM is too cheap to have either watermarked paper or at the very least have the receipt printers print their logo on the receipts…
    — Trains are getting contact RFID “validators” Real Soon Now™, but, as you can expect from the AMT*, they are located at inconvenient places (apparently, monthly pass holders will only have to validate it once a month) at stations, like not next to where people pass to get on their trains.
    — Some buses still don’t have the new RFID readers (just rode one today, in fact), so you could conceivably freeload by flashing a RFID card at the driver…

    Don’t forget that while strolling through the Métro can be a thrilling experience, to the people who work there, it’s just a job (just like your very own lousy job with that clueless phb and that dirty slob with the naturally greasy hair who keeps sniffling every 5 second), so don’t be suprised if they don’t go the little extra length to make your experience even more thrilly… They actually don’t give a flying fuck if you’re annoyed at waiting 20 minutes to buy a pass.

    You can also buy your pass at many fine stores, but you may have to put-up with private-sector/petty bourgeois quirks, like no $100 bills or an (illegal – many stores get busted for that) $5 surchage for using your bank card, or having no “air miles” for buying a $100+ pass.

    * * *

    Did we really need the flashy RFID hardware and turnstiles? As a matter of fact, the law regarding transit bylaws has been quietly changed a few years ago to make transit systems POP (proof of payment), just like in Europe, where many systems have no turnstiles at all, but random checks within the fare-paid zone.

    * I read on some local board about someone saying that, one day, he was with a friend aboard an AMT train, waiting for it to leave the station. He explained how the AMT works (it contracts the train to the various railroads), and went on to explain some of it’s worst shortcomings, concluding that they’re woefully incompetent. Two girls sitting ahead of them then got up, turned around, and said “you’re right, sir. I once worked for the AMT, and they’re a bunch of incompetent nitwits”…

  9. Richard

    @Jean Naimard,

    Thanks for the tip re: les changeurs. I’ll have to give it a try one day.

    As for exiting the system through the nice wide turnstile in front of the cabine, I was told by a changeur that we’re supposed to continue exiting through the other exits, and not by there. So.. who knows who’s right?

  10. Tim

    @Jean: Re: European Proof of Payment systems. I’m noticing that this seems to be slowly changing. On my last trip (Netherlands, Belgium, France) I was noticing these changes.

    For example, the STIB (Brussel’s STM) changed their bus boarding practice. Used to be you could get on through any door and then validate (honour system-like) within. Now you have to board through the front door, like here.

    In Amsterdam, they have now a second “changeur” station in the rear car of the tram, and you must go in through either the front or this second door. Seems to me there were even little gates once you went past the attendant.

    France? Well, Paris have been notoriously paranoid in its metro, RER and train stations for as long as I’ve been travelling there. No change.


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