How to get on the train without actually spending cash (and not buying a pass)
I'm not sure anything's happening in the zeitgeist, but two of these stories cropped up at the same time. Takepart:
Chinese recycling company Incom first set up 10 of the machines, which resemble a typical vending machine in Beijing's subways, back in 2012, reports Recycling Today. The machines allow commuters to insert a plastic soda or water bottle in exchange for a transit pass or mobile phone credit. The machine has a sensor that is able to scan each bottle and determine how much it's worth. Commuters can get 5 to 15 cents per bottle.
And in Russia, the New Statesman:
Would you rather do exercise than pay for your train ticket every day? That’s happening in Moscow right now. If you manage to pull off 30 squats while the machine watches you, you get a ticket. The machines are in Vystavochaya station for a month as a promotion for the Sochi Winter Olympics next year.
And here's the same idea in Japan? From 2013:
Installed at the Shaoyaoju Station of Beijing Subway Line 10 in late December 2012, the recycling machine program is still in its testing phase. Unlike American bottle bill programs, the machines are conveniently located and provide an instant reward. It’s less than two cents per bottle, but there’s no limit to how many can be redeemed. If you wanted to stand their all day feeding it plastic bottles you could, although other passengers might get upset.
Wildly extrapolating, we could set up a feudal infrastructure with vending machines: Trading labor or possessions for services (although not protection from warlords. Yet).