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Metrocard Swiping Technique

I always took pride in my ability to get the metrocard to swipe correctly in one even motion. It's not much of a skill, but tell that to a person who is stuck behind somebody doing 10 swipes during rush hour.

Some time ago I figured out an interesting way of getting stubborn turnstiles to let me in.  You see, my theory is that the card slot gets clogged with lint and wallet gunk. I've seen MTA employees clean the slots with special cards (which I think they dipped in some sort of a solution).

Well, what I do to get a stubborn turnstile to work is turn my metrocard upside down and vigorously swipe it back and forth, trying to dislodge the lint.  The next swipe (if done properly) almost always succeeds.

Of course it's a good idea to buy new metrocard each time and keep it cleen from wallet gunk.

Wouldn't it be so much better if they used iButton ( ) instead?

Michael Krakovskiy
Sunday, March 30, 2003

I just swiped hold my card at the right height and swipe it as part of my stride w/o moving my arm or wrist.
Sunday, March 30, 2003

Sometimes I do what mark does, but it doesn't work and I hit the bar and feel dumb.

Or worse, sometimes I've even forgotten to swipe my card at all.  I'll be thinking about something totally different and try to push the turnstile without paying.  Somehow at that moment I think it's going to work.

Michael H. Pryor
Monday, March 31, 2003

Luckily I'm the right height that hitting the bar full stride is more annoying that painful.
Monday, March 31, 2003

Monday, March 31, 2003

In Japan, you insert your card into a machine and it sucks the card in, reads it, and spits it out conveniently a couple of paces ahead of where you put it in, for convenient taking without having to stop walking.  They also have figured it out so that you can put your card in any of four directions (i.e. backwards OR forwards, rightside up OR upside down) and the wicket can still read and deduct properly.  Say what you will about the Japanese economy, but their ticket readers can't be beat.

Jordan Lampe
Monday, March 31, 2003


the "ticket sucking" thing you mention - has been implemented at Newark International Airport Train station as well (Can you belive it, Newark of all places :-))

Prakash S
Monday, March 31, 2003

SF BART sucks tickets, too. Unfortunately, they don't give enough "stride space". When someones ticket is eventually rejected with too little money, they slam into the gate. Everyone behind them has already pushed forward, so there is no way out for the hapless soul. The entire front of the line must reverse direction to allow the person to go add money to his card..

Monday, March 31, 2003

One day this will all be wireless, the metrocard won't leave your wallet. They'll come as keyfobs too.
Monday, March 31, 2003

One day the metrocard will be replaced by retinal scanners.

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

In the early days of MetroCard, the head of the NYCTA held some public Q+A sessions on subway platforms. I was at one.

Usage was very, very low at the time. He asked what the MTA should do to increase usage. Several people shouted "put it in more *)%$^*(*^ stations!" It wasn't even in Union Square at the time.

Anyhow, I learned the answer to why they chose the fussy, manual-swipe card system over the ones that use paper cards and suck them through a motorized thingy that reads them right every time--and tracks both the start and end point of trips for a better understanding of what routes people take.

His answer: the plastic cards are more durable. (Actualy, the readers have no moving parts, so that may be a factor too--but what the head of the NYCTA said was that the plastic cards were more durable.

See, they envisioned people refilling cards often and using them for months at a time. But since there's no price break for refilling a card, there's no incentive to refill a card, especially as they become less and less reliable with use.

And you don't even want to think about the procedure for cashing out a card that no longer works properly. Have a nice ride to Brooklyn.

Steve Koppelman
Monday, April 21, 2003

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