Poland is a wonderful place where it snows in early October, the food is delicious and inexpensive, and the cities are beautiful. But my first positive impression of Poland came before I even arrived into town, as I boarded a commuter train at the airport and made a wonderful discovery: ticket vending machines.


To my great surprise and good fortune — because I didn’t have a ticket — just inside the door there was an ordinary transit ticket vending machine, much like those found in stations all over the world, including in Budapest and Salt Lake City, pictured below.

Even more incredibly, there was a lady who also sold tickets onboard. I’ve seen people selling tickets on longer trains, but this was a less-than-twenty-minute ride into Kraków in a commuter-style car very much like one I rode last year in San Diego.

Ticket machines on trains are a no-brainer. When I lived in Salt Lake City and rode the TRAX light rail, I would often arrive at a platform just in time to catch a train. Having to buy a ticket meant missing that train, and worse still machines were often broken or didn’t always accept credit cards.

That meant I either couldn’t take the train at all, or I had to chance it and hope I wasn’t caught riding without paying.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who has faced this dilemma.

Adding vending machines to trains solves this problem. It potentially could increase ridership and streamline the user experience. For out-of-town travelers, as I was in Kraków, it makes the process obvious and very low stress.

Of course, this wouldn’t work on extremely crowded subway trains where there is barely room to stand, let alone add a machine and have riders queuing up.

But for every overcrowded train in this world, there is another one that probably has room for an onboard ticket machine. I suspect vending machines would work especially well on medium distance trains — e.g. Utah’s FrontRunner, San Diego County’s Sprinter, Germany’s West Rhine Railway, etc. — that are more spacious than typical light rail.

I’m sure there are other places with ticket machines onboard their trains. But I’ve ridden short and long distance trains all over the U.S. and Europe, as well as a few in South America, and I don’t recall ever seeing this before. It’s time to change that. It’s time to make the transit process easier by putting ticket machines on trains.

— Jim Dalrymple II


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

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