The Evolution of Ticket Turnstiles: From Manual to Automated Systems

Posted byJoe Posted onAugust 7, 2023 Comments0

Ticket turnstiles are gate-like structures comprising of rotating arms that allow individuals to pass through upon the presentation of a valid ticket or pass. These devices are commonly used in transportation settings such as subway stations, airports, and sports arenas. Over the years, ticket turnstiles have undergone significant changes in their design and functionality with the development of technology, leading to the implementation of automated systems. This article explores the history of ticket turnstiles and their current state in modern society.

Origins of Manual Ticket Turnstiles

The first ticket turnstile system was introduced in 1888 in New York City’s Massachusetts subway station. However, it was manually operated, with a ticket agent physically opening the turnstile when passengers presented their ticket. These manual systems were labor-intensive, requiring the presence of a ticket agent at every turnstile in the station.

In the early 1900s, as subway stations became more crowded, station managers began looking for ways to manage and control the flow of passengers, leading to the development of automated ticket turnstiles.

Evolution of Automated Ticket Turnstiles

The first automated ticket turnstile system was implemented in 1953 at the Tokyo Metro, Japan. The system used magnetic cards, known as the “Tunacard,” that could be inserted into the machine and read by a device that validated the ticket’s validity. The machine would then release the arm and allow the passenger to pass through. This technology revolutionized the way ticket validation was handled in large public transportation systems, and soon automated ticket turnstiles became commonplace in other countries.

Modern Automated Turnstiles

Today’s modern ticket turnstileutilize more advanced technology and combine multiple functions, including fare collection, passenger counting, and security. The validation process has become faster, more secure, and easier for passengers to use.

The most commonly used ticket turnstile systems today include smart cards, mobile tickets, and contactless payment systems, such as the Apple Pay or Google Wallet. These systems are designed to be faster and more efficient, allowing users to tap their cards or phones on the machine, and the turnstile opens automatically.

Advantages of Automated Ticket Turnstiles

Automated ticket turnstile systems have several significant advantages over manual systems. Firstly, they reduce the need for ticket agents, leading to cost savings and increased efficiency. Secondly, they reduce ticket fraud and revenue leakage by real-time validation of tickets. Thirdly, they improve passenger flow by limiting congestion at entry and exit points.


Ticket turnstiles have come a long way since their introduction in the 1800s. In today’s world, the use of automated systems has made the ticket validation process faster, more efficient, and more secure. With the continued evolution of technology, the future of ticket turnstile systems could be entirely contactless with facial or iris recognition technology. As the world continues to progress towards digital transformation, the concept of ticket turnstiles will undoubtedly continue to evolve with the times and remain an essential part of public transportation systems.