Featherweight Pressure Gate (Turnstile) on the Interborough (1921)
Electric Railway Journal · Vol. 58, No. 22 · November 26, 1921 · p. 940.
Featherweight Pressure Gate on the Interborough. Congestion Will Be Relieved and About 1,500 Station Employees Released by Complete Installation of This Type of Turnstile, Which Makes a Nickel the Ticket.
The Interborough Rapid Transit Company, New York, after more than two years study of the problem of how to save the annoyance to and time of passengers in buying subway and elevated tickets, has now developed a light-weight, foolproof turnstile, several of which are being installed in each station of the Lexington Avenue line. Where these gates have been installed a nickel will be the ticket, while no other coin will unlock the gate. Any other which is inserted in the slot will be returned without unlocking the gate. When the gate is unlocked the passenger need exert scarcely more than featherweight pressure to pass through.
The initial installation of the featherweight pressure gate was made at the Fifty-first Street station of the Lexington Avenue subway some six months ago, since which time more than 3,000,000 passengers have passed through these gates. During that time there has not been a single line-up of more than three or four passengers at the change booth or the slot machine. At the ordinary ticket selling booth from ten to forty people in the rush hours have frequently formed in line. Twenty passengers a minute may pass through a single gate, or about 160 passengers a minute can enter the Fifty-first Street station through four gates. Their combined capacity exceeds any anticipated demand.
A very interesting observation has been made which goes to show that the traveling public will take advantage of any device to save their time. From the very beginning, the regular patrons using this station acquired the habit of having their nickel ready. For some time an actual count was kept of the number of passengers passing through these gates and the percentage of those who, coming without the proper change, had to procure it at the change booth. For a few days only was the change clerk kept even fairly active in busy hours. At the present time only four passengers out of each hundred, on the average, require change.
The new gates serve as exits as well as entrances, as they turn freely in the opposite direction for persons going out. The incoming and outgoing passengers do not interfere with each other. During the rush hours there is little conflict, for the great flow of traffic is uni-directional.
Not only will these gates facilitate fare collection and reduce the passenger's delay to a minimum, but it will also effect a very substantial saving to the company. Hereafter, only one man to make change will be necessary instead of two ticket agents and two choppers, as were formerly necessary in most of the stations. When the system is completely equipped about 1,500 station employees will be released, whose services will then be utilized in other departments. As a fare-collecting and recording device the machine leaves little to be desired. It is evident that there is no way for a passenger to enter without paying. The human element of employees is entirely eliminated, because every coin that is inserted is automatically counted on a recorder. There is no longer the opportunity for either the passengers or employees to practice the abuses formerly common.
The mechanical operation of this gate is extremely simple yet very reliable. The insertion of the nickel makes an electrical contact, which operates a solenoid. Air is admitted to a piston through a valve actuated by this solenoid. The gate is then free to turn, for the piston has withdrawn the dog which held it from turning. In the same operation the gate has also been locked against rotation in the opposite direction. However, there is a commutator on the gate shaft which releases the dog holding the gate when turning in that direction after the passenger has advanced about half way through it. Since both air and 110-volt current are available from the signal system, conditions are quite favorable to their rapid installation.
Frank Hedley, president, and J. S. Doyle, superintendent of equipment of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, are the inventors of this gate. About 500 machines have already been built, the contracts having been divided among the National Pneumatic Company, the Columbia Machine Works & Malleable Iron Company and the Westinghouse Air Brake Company.
AT LEFT, SUBWAY STATION SHOWING TWO OF THE TURNSTILES IN USE. AT RIGHT, CLOSE-UP OF A COMPLETE "FEATHERWEIGHT PRESSURE GATE" UNIT.