Re: ECONOMY: The Absurdity of Merchant Account Requirements

Damien Broderick (
Sun, 06 Sep 1998 12:48:58 +0000

At 09:50 PM 9/5/98 +0200, the Otter wrote:

>How I love those train/bus ticket machines, for example;
>always ready to serve you without a murmur. If only everything were so

The electric trams in Melbourne, which were once served by friendly fare-collecting conductors who helped little old ladies and mothers with prams and somehow caused thugs and noisy children to control themselves just by their presence, recently shifted to on-board ticket machines and validators. Both kinds of machines, which took an extraordinary amount of time to develop and bring on line, are now plagued with problems (unlike those in many other cities and countries; maybe it's the ozone hole). The neatest detail is that the ticket machines have been placed along the side of the tram (so that users must stand side-on to the forward motion of the often-jolting tram) and right next to the well of the central egress, causing off-balance old patrons and baby-clutching mothers to tumble to their doom as they try to key in their choice of ticket and feed in their coins with one hand. Technology cannot defeat stupidity. (And of course, without the human conductors roaming up and down the tram and catching their eye, most travellers simply avoid buying or validating their tickets; tragedy of the commons, again. There is a squad of inspectors, but as a kid told me the other day, `There's heaps of strategies'...)

Damien Broderick