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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 down.

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 needs.

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 machine.

Numismaster - October 2, 2007


Reliance on Vending Machines Causes Chinese Coin Shortage

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