Reliance on Vending Machines
Causes Chinese Coin Shortage
By Richard Giedroyc - October 02, 2007
It was a great idea on the surface. The Shanghai
Railway Station and other metro stations would save money
by getting rid of the clerks who sell subway passes, replacing
them with automatic ticketing machines.
All riders had to do was vend coins or bank
notes at the automatic ticketing machines and receive their
subway or railway passes in return. The machines accept both
coins and bank notes.
The problem that was not anticipated is that
many more commuters vend paper bank notes into the machines,
expecting to receive their railway pass and coins in change
in return. In fact there have been so many people using bank
notes to purchase their riding passes that the machines can't
hold enough coins to feed this demand. In turn, once the vending
machines no longer can make change, the machines simply shut
According to the Aug. 4 Shanghai Daily newspaper,
"The problem is creating large line-ups at many ticket
machines, greatly slowing passenger flow. "
The newspaper article did not identify the
bank, but it did indicate there was only one bank in Shanghai
from which the metro system gets its coinage.
The Shanghai Daily article blatantly said
that bank has a "monopoly" on providing the needed
coinage, and that "the bank has consistently refused"
to increase the coinage supply the transportation system now
How severe is the coinage shortage? A Shanghai
Daily reporter said that on Aug. 3 all six of the machines
had stopped accepting notes at the Shanghai Railway Station.
At the People's Square Station half of the six machines in
one area had stopped accepting bank notes, while only one
of the three machines at Xujiahui Station along Metro Line
1 were still accepting bank notes.
Yin Wei, a spokesman for the metro, is quoted
in the Aug. 4 Shanghai Daily newspaper as saying, "The
coin shortage most often affects busy stations with a large
number of out-of-town visitors. You don't expect them to travel
with a local public transport card. The shortage is very common
in the afternoon."Yin said the Metro staffers at busy
stations were told to ensure that at least one of the machines
could accept bank notes by moving all the coins to a single