Travelling on a subway/ local trains in Singapore, Hong Kong, Kolkatta, Delhi, Bejing the most common thing that you take for granted is the entry point/ checkpoint automatic doors. They come in different forms – “snap” doors or “lever” doors. Your instinct tells you to tap your pass or push the ticket through, door will open and you go through to the other side. This is the standard operating procedure at almost every subway station and every country I have visited.
Now imagine the contrast. You tap your ticket or pass on the ticket checking point and you look for door to open – either “snap” sound or the levers to push. But there is no door. It it a wide open “Pass through”. This is Tokyo.
You know what. I thought I was busy in tapping the ticket and hence might not have noticed opening of the door. And hence I moved passed the doors and looked back to check if the doors are snapping back to close. But no such thing. I was zapped. Being in a hurry I went and boarded the train. While coming out of the station I decided to keep a closer watch on the doors. Again I realised the doors were open all the time.
I was waiting for the opportunity to know it better and I got it on 3rd day. My pass had run out of money and I tapped the pass on the entrance of the door. It beeped, flashed red light and doors closed. Oh..so there were doors. And in the instance I understood the logic.
The doors are open all the time and they close only when something goes wrong.
Wow.. I liked the logic, made for efficiency. Faster movement of people in the given time.
While I was admiring this efficient mechanism, I wondered why other cities have not implemented such logic. And that is when I felt that this mechanism or logic is not just the efficiency consideration. I felt that it reflects the social mindset as well. To me “keeping the gates open all time time, till some problem” is reflection of “trust” based society. Can you trust your citizens and design the systems just to stop the offenders? In most places we find the systems are designed keeping in mind that the people are going to cheat and checks are implemented accordingly.
Here in Tokyo I found that the system was ready to trust the people. Probably the society was trustworthy. This has helped to create so much efficiency. Trust has so many benefits.
My respect for that society grew multifold.