Crowd Control at the Beijing Station Ticket Window

One of my earliest memories of life in China was fighting for tickets at railway stations and movie theaters where the idea of lines was a culturally alien one. Decades later while it is common to see folks in urban China line up for everything in a way that is familiar, some spaces are still being negotiated. As interfaces between the urban and rural, train stations remain just such a potential space.

Urban China, however, has numerous examples of design that provides physical means of controlling the flow of bodies. This morning at the Beijing Railway station I encountered a novel contraption designed to ensure that only one human body at a time can appear in front of the ticket window. The combination of tightly-fitting turnstile and steel railing-enforced queues leading directly up to the wheel opening was incredibly effective.

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