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Proof-of-payment or POP is a fare collection approach used on many public transportation systems. Instead of checking each passenger as they enter a fare control zone, proof-of-payment requires that each passenger carry a ticket or pass proving that they have paid the fare. Ticket controller or conductors make periodic checks to deter fare evasion. On many systems, a passenger can purchase a single use ticket or multi-use pass at any time in advance, but must insert the ticket or pass into a validation machine before use. Validation machines in stations or on board vehicles time stamp the ticket. The ticket is then valid for some period of time after the stamped time.
Advantages of proof-of-payment include lower labor costs for fare collection, simpler station design, easier access for mobility-impaired passengers or those carrying packages, and a more open feel for passengers. Validated tickets can double as transfers between lines. Disadvantages include potentially higher rate of fare evasion, reduced security on station platforms when no barrier is used, and regularly exposing passengers to unpleasant confrontational situations when a rider without the proper proof is caught. Visitors unfamiliar with a system's validation requirements who innocently misunderstand the rules are especially likely to get into trouble.
Proof-of-payment is popular in Canada, Eastern Europe and Germany and has made some inroads in the United States. Some urban mass transit systems in the U.S. have gone the other way, however, and are installing fare barriers that are harder to evade. One example is the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which in 2006 installed subway fare gates with automatic doors instead of a traditional turnstile, making it harder to jump over or duck under the mechanism. However for the green line surface LRV service they are enacting a quasi-proof-of-payment system. Cash payers must pay at the front door and will be issued a receipt as POP. Holders of Charliecards and tickets will either be able to validate their tickets beforehand at some stations and have a receipt issued. At other stations inspectors with handheld scanners will deduct value from cards or check for passes at the back door. If no inspectors are on duty those with stored value cards and tickets are expected to use the farebox by the frontdoor while those with passes can board at the back door.
Systems using Proof-of-Payment
- Berlin S-Bahn
- Berlin U-Bahn
- Budapest Metro
- Calgary C-Train
- Helsinki Public Transit
- Greater Toronto Area GO Transit
- Los Angeles County Metro Rail (light rail only)
- Munich U-Bahn
- NJ Transit light rail lines including Newark Light Rail, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, and River Line
- San Diego Trolley
- San Francisco Bay Area Caltrain
- San Francisco Municipal Railway (mostly subway lines)
- St. Louis Metrolink
- Warsaw Metro