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The Metrocard Incident March 23, 2006

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Ramblings.

On 11 March 2006, my Metrocard went haywire.

That Saturday evening, on my way to Times Square from 3rd Avenue, I boarded the crosstown M104 on 42nd Street. I got on the bus and inserted my Metrocard into the card reader next to the driver. It took an unusual amount of time for the machine to process the card (about ten seconds, when it usually takes about two), and the machine was making noises as if it were having problems reading it. But before I could fret the machine returned my card, informed me that the $2.00 fare was paid, and displayed the balance remaining on the Metrocard.

I thought nothing of it and went to take my seat.

An hour later I was at the Times Square subway station to take a train back home. Heading towards the turnstile, I took out my Metrocard and swiped it along the card reader.

The turnstile would not let me pass.

“Please swipe again,” the display read.

Swipe. Swipe. Swipe.

“Please swipe again.”

“Please swipe again.”

“Please swipe again.”

Panic. PANIC. PANIC!!!

None of the machines at the subway station would read the Metrocard. Flustered, I took it up with a station attendant; he couldn’t get it to work either. Helpless, he gave me a form and business reply-mail envelope so I could bring the incident to the attention of the Metro Transit Authority (MTA).

There was $40 left on that card. I was certain: I still had the reciept from when I last reloaded it, and remembered the amount displayed from my earlier ride.

Having no other alternative, I bought another Metrocard (which I loaded with just $20) and went on my way. At home, I filled out the form, and enclosed it in the envelope together with the receipt and the Metrocard. Maybe it was just me, but I was very skeptical that anything would come of this: it didn’t seem very probable that a one-paragraph incident report would get me my $40 back on my say-so, notwithstanding it was true. Nevertheless, the next day I crossed the street to the post office and mailed the envelope to the MTA.

Today, 22 March 2006, I received an envelope in the mail. It was from the MTA. Enclosed was a new Metrocard, loaded with $40.



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