There used to be manned ticket barriers at Leeds railway station – manned by real people who would check your tickets and stuff. You’d usually get two people there at least, reasonably efficient. That all changed a few months ago when the barriers got pulled up, the staff moved elsewhere, and the powers-that-be put in automated ticket barriers.
Since then it’s been a total fail:
- The barriers take several seconds to open! Although I’m used to London Underground barriers (ticket in/run through/grab ticket/close behind you) the time taken to get through the Leeds barriers is excessive and causes extreme congestion in rush hour.
- The ticket readers are unreliable – standing there for half a minute attempting to get the thing to read your Metro-card looks to be quite common.
- There’s usually at least two barriers wide open, attended by agency staff who don’t look at the tickets anyway.
- There’s usually at least two barriers out of action (broken?) with cones or something across them.
However, there’s an even bigger failure you can have fun with: you can use almost any mag-stripe ticket in them. One morning I was in a hurry and pulled out an expired Metro-card, which quite happily let me through the barrier; subsequently I tried a London Underground ticket from 2007, a National Rail ticket from 2005 and even a ticket from somewhere foreign (Trans-Perth rail probably). I’ve also had confirmation that credit card receipts from the ticket machines work as well.
(NB. I should point out at this juncture that I did have a valid Metro-card during the period of testing, at no point did I attempt to dodge fares).
It does bring an interesting question to mind though – why did they install these? It’s easier to fare-dodge using the new barriers (if not via the expired-ticket method then you can just stroll through since the attendants don’t check tickets anyway); it doesn’t increase efficiency but instead increases congestion as commuters attempt to get through the barriers; there’s no decrease in staffing either.
It all just seems a waste of time, and it’s bloody frustrating for us commuters.