Swipe again. Swipe again. Swipe again at this turnstile.
Yes, the sad song of the subway sap-sucker. On Easter Sunday I caught the #6 at the 86th and Lex. subway station to meet some friends. As I tried to swipe my monthly unlimited MetroCard, the dreaded swipe again mantra began as my train pulled into the station. After five or six futile swipes the turnstile reader changed to just used.
Usually at this point I would use my New York subway savvy, pull the handle halfway back and painfully squeeze myself through the turnstile, cops be damned. But I was wearing good pants and didn’t want to tear them, so I sadly watched as my train departed.
But then an Easter miracle happened. A friendly, helpful MTA customer service rep quickly appeared, apologized profusely and handed me a MetroCard good for two free rides for my inconvenience. He then whipped out his cell and called a maintenance guy, who fixed the turnstile immediately so the same thing wouldn’t happen to some other poor sap.
And then the Easter Bunny hopped over and handed me a huge basket of chocolate!
Ok, here’s what really happened. After I missed my train I looked for the station agent. But a sign on the darkened, empty booth read This is no longer in full time operation. I had to buy another MetroCard I didn’t need to get on the subway, waited ten minutes for the next #6 and arrived late. Thanks MTA!
A friend of mine had a similar experience at one of the few remaining stations that still have agents on hand at night. After futilely swiping over and over, she asked the station agent for a replacement card–and was refused. She was instructed to mail her monthly unlimited card back to the MTA for replacement. What was she supposed to do in the meantime? “Buy another MetroCard, I guess,” said the helpful agent. “But then I’ll lose–” “Next!”
If you regularly ride the subways, you know that turnstile failure is happening with increasing frequency. Station agents are supposed to clean the turnstile readers daily to prevent such occurrences, but these agents are disappearing.
The public spirited citizens who volunteer to serve on the MTA board (oh, and get paid almost a quarter of a million each for this part time gig) say they are doing everything in their power to remedy the situation. They told The New York Post they have assigned station chiefs and cleaners to do this daily maintenance on the turnstiles. But the union, pissed off about layoffs, has told the cleaners its not part of their job.
So the next time you encounter this problem, just ask your local station chief for help. How will you know him?
He’ll be standing right beside the Easter Bunny.