Wouldn’t it be nice if….Part II

Last week, I made a short wish list of all the cool things other transit systems do to keep commuters informed about when the next train gets to the station. Today we’re talking ticket-buying, with the help of Fairfield County News Desk intern Megan Forbes.

My TrainTicket: The UK recently launched this ticket-purchasing system. Commuters buy tickets with their phones, and get a text or picture message immediately afterward which displays a bar code. The conductor can scan that bar code either before, during, or after the train ride. Riders in India can also buy tickets this way in some cases, and Metro-North is piloting a system like that right now.

Amtrak(!?!?): Question marks and exclamation points added for emphasis to show that despite all of its problems, Amtrak does do some things right. Amtrak has developed an app that lets commuters buy tickets and do other cool things — like checking train status, etc. I’ve already used my smartphone on Amtrak to show conductors that I have a ticket on the train, which in itself is pretty useful. Who has a printer these days, anyway?

Turnstiles: Well, there are pros and cons to having a turnstile system, as Professor Vukan Vuchic from the University of Pennsylvania told me in yesterday’s story. Turnstiles prevent stations from being “open” — as in, you can’t just jump on the train without having a ticket. And imagine trying to put turnstiles in some of those small, outdoor stations on the New Haven Line like Westport. Still, they have their advantages. In train systems where passengers can swipe a pre-bought card to automatically deduct the price of a ticket, that transaction is usually combined with going through some sort of turnstile.

We’ll expand on this list throughout the week. Send us your ideas and examples.