London Underground Uses Ticket-Issuing Machines (1928)

From nycsubway.org

Electric Railway Journal · Vol. 71, No. 14 · April 7, 1928 · pp. 579-580.

London Underground Uses Ticket-Issuing Machines. In spite of its zone fares the London Underground has been successful in employing automatic machinery in its fare collection.

Mechanism which is largely automatic is used in a system of fare collection which has been developed on the London Underground System, although zone fares are charged. Originally, on this system, tickets were sold at ticket windows, as on steam railroads. They were printed with the names of the initial and final station and were surrendered by passengers as they left the destination station. This acted as a safeguard against overriding.

The next step, introduced some twenty years ago, was the installation of slot machines for the sale of tickets. Not all tickets were sold by machine, only the denominations most commonly used, as 2-penny and 2-1/2-penny tickets. The others were sold from a window (or booking office as it is called in London). The machines relieved the ticket agents, however, of considerable work and also helped the public by shortening the time of waiting to buy a ticket. Lettering on the machine showed clearly the amount of money which had to be deposited to secure a ticket and the station or stations to which such a ticket would entitle a passenger to ride. Such a slot machine is shown in an accompanying illustration.

These machines, while useful, were of rather primitive design and noisy in operation. In their original form they also were open to fraud by the use of slugs. They served the purpose, however, and many of them, although greatly improved, are still in use. They still require the exact amount of money to be inserted. They do not make change.

The latest type of slot machine in use on the London Underground System will take either the exact fare or will make change if the traveler inserts a 6-penny coin or a shilling coin. It also weighs the coin inserted and tests it electrically for conductivity to determine whether it is spurious, or not. It then prints, dates and issues a ticket instead of taking one from a supply. All this is done at the rate of a ticket a second. There is only one money slot, no matter what the coin or coins that are dropped into it.

It is believed that this type of machine, when generally installed, will greatly increase the use of slot ticket machines, as experience has shown that 90 per cent of all the passengers at the Underground ticket offices are in possession of either copper penny pieces for the fare, or sixpences, or one shilling pieces.

The type of slot machine just mentioned is not the only one being tested out by the London Underground. Three other forms are also in use. One, shown in Fig. 4, is purely mechanical and has the advantage that it occupies less space than that shown in Fig. 3, though it does not make change. Another advantage possessed by a purely mechanical machine is that it can easily be moved from one station to another. Hence, it is especially convenient for use at outlying stations on days when they are to be used by a large number of people, as for a Rugby game or other athletic event.

Fig. 5 shows how five of these machines designed for different rates of fare have been brought together at one station to occupy a circular space only 3 ft. in diameter. Fig. 6 shows another form of this machine. It is designed to be tall so as to take up very little floor space. It is especially useful in passageways where the room is limited.

Besides these ticket-issuing machines, the company is testing out turnstiles, or passimeters, on rather an extensive scale. These machines have to differ from those used in the United States, because in addition to registering the fare they have to issue a ticket showing the destination to which the fare is paid.

One of the latest turnstile designs is illustrated in Fig. 7. If the passenger drops two pennies in the slot of the 2-penny passimeter, he will receive his ticket printed and dated. At the same time the turnstile is automatically released, thus providing admission to the train platform. If a 6-penny or a shilling coin should be dropped in the slot the same procedure is followed except that the passenger also receives his proper change.

Still another form of passimeter station is shown in Fig. 8. Here, as the passengers pass through the station, pay for and receive their tickets, they are registered on meters in the ticket office. With this system, as well as with the passimeter illustrated in Fig. 7, the inspection of tickets, which has to be done with all the other plans, is dispensed with except for holders of season tickets and return tickets. These represent only about 20 per cent of the traffic.

The latest office ticket issuing machine in use on the London Underground is shown in the final engraving. Fig. 9. This machine, which is also used with a passimeter, prints, dates and numbers the ticket from plain rolls of paper, and has a capacity of four tickets per second. It is primarily intended for the issue of tickets of the less common denominations, i.e., tickets which have to be issued from an office.

The clerical staff much prefers this machine to the former plan where tickets had to be taken out of the case one at a time. In fact, the work is so much easier that it has been found practicable on the deep underground lines to locate the electrical switches which control the elevators to the station platforms in the ticket office.


Old and new ticket-selling and fare collection methods on the London Underground railway system. 1. The earliest method used in London, where tickets were sold at a window and punched at a barrier. 2. First ticket-issuing machine. 3. This machine issues 2-penny tickets and gives change for larger coins. 4. This double machine issues 1-penny or 2-penny tickets and is mechanically operated. It does not make change. 5. Several automatic machines grouped in the form of a kiosk. 6. A high design with small floor area for narrow passageways. 7. The passimeter and change-making machines which dispenses with both ticket seller and ticket puncher at entering stations. 8. Through type of passimeter station. 9. Ticket printing and issuing machine for office issue, used in conjunction with passimeter.


Electric Railway Journal, McGraw Hill Company, Digitized by Microsoft, Americana Collection, archive.org.

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