No geography trivia quiz this week (still looking for ideas in case anyone has any). Instead, a different kind of challenge:
What are these?
UPDATE: After a dozen interesting guesses, Pascal gets it right: They’re metro turnstiles.
A sea of old turnstiles behind a gate at Pie-IX metro
Turnstile innards, with unrelated celebratory horn
These photos were taken at the Pie-IX metro station, where dozens of the old turnstiles have gone to die. They have been replaced by new Opus-enabled turnstiles, except for the one at each station that was kept for transition purposes (those will be joining them soon) and some exit-only turnstiles that don’t need to be replaced.
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.
The STM has begun installing new turnstiles in the metro, starting at the De la Savane, Monk, Plamondon and Villa-Maria stations. The new turnstiles are designed to be used with electronic smart cards, which will allow the transit authority more control over payment (including, for example, establishing a zone system where you pay for how far you go).
Sadly, when eventually put into service along with the new electronic fare systems installed in buses last year, this will spell the end of Montreal’s notorious but still fully functional punch-card transfers.