Just the ticket

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The days of counting cash by hand, reconciling waybills and counting punched chads are long gone. JONATHAN WELCH

Prompted by a new display at the Museum of Transport Greater Manchester, Jonathan Welch takes a brief look back at the history and development of ticketing and payment technology over the last 200 years.

Yes, the headline is a terrible pun. I make no apologies.

But actually, what is a ‘ticket’ today? Regular readers and subscribers will remember that a few issues ago I took a peek at some of the collection of publicity materials housed at the Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester. Given its vast archive, I only scratched the surface of what’s hidden securely in the museum’s vaults and back rooms.

On the same visit, the museum’s Paul WIlliams also showed me its latest new display, featuring a collection of ticketing equipment collected and bequeathed to the museum along with sufficient funding to create the display by enthusiast and collector Bob Wingrove. Housed in a long line of tall glass cabinets, the collection is testament to Bob’s enthusiasm and passion for the topic.

Evolution or revolution?

Since the turn of the millennium, we’ve seen how smart ticketing using payment cards, apps and smartcards has changed the face of bus travel, offering what we’re told are simple, easier to use and convenient integrated ticketing options. The word revolutionary is one that an advertiser might use to describe the change. You might be forgiven for thinking that until now, ticketing has remained unchanged for decades, if not hundreds of years.

So it might come as a surprise to wander along the chronologically laid out display cabinets in one of the Museum’s two display halls and see just how far we’d come, and to realise that for all the spin, there were lots of ‘smart’ ticketing innovations in the past too.


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