Broken MetroCard Vending Machines

I’ve started having problems with the NYC Subway MetroCard machines.  Every once in awhile, my card becomes unreadable.

I didn’t have this problem until recently.

Even more bizarre, some MetroCards are unreadable in the turnstyles and cash vending machines, but they are readable in the credit card only (no cash) vending machines.

I figured out why.

The MetroCard machines are 10 years old.  The magnets and parts are wearing out.  Nobody is doing the maintenance.

If there’s an error, your MetroCard gets stuck in an unreadable state.

The cash machines are also pretty worn out.

The credit card machines are like-new.  Most people pay by cash rather than by credit card.  The credit card only machines are newer than the cash-only machines.  That’s why my “damaged” MetroCards are only readable in the credit card vending machines.  If you put a damaged metrocard into a credit card machine and add value, you can get it to reset the card.  (I have a transitcheck debit card now, so I use the credit card machines.)

Also, with the new subway fare scheme, you get a 7% bonus when you put money on a card, but the fare is $2.25.  That leads to MetroCards with odd amounts on them.  I realized that you can get token clerks to combine the money on two cards.  However, not every token clerk knows how to enter the transaction on his computer.  The token clerk will tell you “You’re not allowed to do that.”  Also, if you have a damaged card, you can move the value to a new card, but many token clerks don’t know how to do that transaction.  (For the MetroCard, the value of the card is stored both on the card an on the MTA’s server.  By entering the serial #, the clerk can discover the value on a damaged MetroCard, and transfer it.  Most token clerks don’t know how to do this, and they’ll lie to you and say you need to mail it to the MTA for a refund.)

That was pretty funny.  Recently, I’ve had a lot of problems where my MetroCard malfunctions and gets stuck in an unreadable state.  I figured out why.  The magnets and parts are wearing out!  Nobody is doing repairs or maintenance!

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