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Proof-of-payment (POP) or proof-of-fare (POF) is an honor-based fare collection system used on many public transportation systems. Instead of checking each passenger as they enter a fare control zone, passengers are required to carry a ticket, pass or a transit smartcard to prove that they have paid the valid fare. Fares are enforced via random spot-checks by inspectors such as conductors or enforcement officers, to ensure that passengers have paid their fares and are not committing fare evasion. On many systems, a passenger can purchase a single-use ticket or multi-use pass at any time in advance, but must insert the ticket or pass into a validation machine immediately before use. Validation machines in stations or on board vehicles time stamp the ticket. The ticket is then valid for some period of time after the stamped time.
This method is implemented when the transit authority believes it will lose less money to the resultant fare evasion than it would cost to install and maintain a more direct collection method. It may be used in systems whose passenger volume and density are not very high most of the time—as passenger volumes increase, more-direct collection methods become more profitable. However, in some countries it is common even on systems with very high passenger volume. Proof-of-payment is usually applied on one-man operated rail and road vehicles as well as on automatically operated rail lines.
Proof-of-payment is popular in Germany, where it was widely introduced during the labor shortages resulting from the Economic Miracle of the 1960s. It has also been adopted in Eastern Europe and Canada and has made some inroads in newer systems in the United States. The first use of the term "POP" or "Proof of Payment" on a rail line in North America is believed to have been in Edmonton in 1980. Since then, many new light rail, streetcar, and bus rapid transit systems have adopted the procedure, mainly to avoid the hassles of crowding at doors to pay fares at a farebox beside the driver as is common practice on traditional buses.