Excellent post from Sandy Smith. Read the whole thing:
The people in charge of the fare system project–I’m not sure they’re techies themselves–have decided to add fare control to a key part of the Regional Rail system in order to make it fit NPT: Riders will “tap in” and “tap out” of the system using contactless readers installed at the five central stations–University City, 30th Street, Suburban Station, Market East, and Temple University.
The advantage of this system is that it takes fare collection out of the hands of on-board personnel. But it’s still somewhat ill-suited to the Regional Rail system, where most stations cannot be reconfigured so that no one can enter the platform without paying a fare. Since that’s the case, why not adopt a practice and a technology that encourages self-enforcement?
I have in mind what’s known as proof-of-payment fare collection, or “the honor system” as it’s sometimes called in error, which is pretty much how Regional Rail operates now: fares are paid at a station ticket window before boarding, if you’re lucky and the ticket window is open when you arrive. You are then issued a proof of payment–the ticket. Don’t have one? On-board personnel, who check all passengers for proof of payment, can sell you one for an additional charge over the fare.
With modern proof-of-payment systems, on-board personnel don’t check each and every passenger for fares; instead, they serve as roving inspectors conducting random checks of passengers. If they find a passenger without proof of payment, that rider’s $2.50 trip turns into a $250 one once the inspector writes a ticket for the violation. This system is used widely across the world.