Yesterday I spent the day touring the old city of Istanbul. Some of the buildings date back more than a thousand years and most have been around for several hundred. The streets are narrow and winding, lined with shops, hotels and restaurants. It’s a remarkable place.
At one point we took the ferry across the Bosphorus Straits to the Asian side of the city, then later came back to the European side on the subway, which goes under the water. All very modern and quite a contrast to the historic surroundings.
One thing that struck me was the ease for travelers using any of the public modes of transportation (ferry, subway, tram line, bus) in Istanbul. There were no ticket takers, no token dispensers, virtually no people at all involved with the commercial side of riding public transit. Commuters just held their credit card over a card reader and voila! they were permitted access through a turnstile.
Last time I rode the TTC, I had to go to a kiosk, ask the guy for 3 tokens, pay cash for them, then put one in a slot. I used one more on my return trip but the other was in my pocket where it got mixed up with the change I had and is likely now in a jar on my dresser. There may be other subway tokens in there too, impersonating dimes but actually worth more than a dollar.
We may think we live in a modern city but sometimes we could learn a thing or two from the ancient world.