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Turnstiles to show unlimited MetroCard expiration dates

by Benjamin Kabak

Back in March, I mused on monthly (and weekly) MetroCards via my Twitter account:

Wishes apparently do come true.

This morning, an astute reader noted that the turnstile at Roosevelt Ave. had given him an expiration date. At first, I thought it might be a glitch, but after posing the question on Facebook, it seemed to be more than an isolated incident. Straphangers in Brooklyn, Chelsea and the Upper East Side reported seeming similar displays at Altantic Ave., 14th St. and 86th St., respectively. So I asked the MTA about the upgrades, and they confirmed it for me.

As part of what Transit is deeming “routine maintenance of the MetroCard system,” the agency is testing new software that displays expiration dates for unlimited-ride MetroCards when these cards are swiped through subway turnstiles. It’s unclear how long it will take for this test to arrive throughout the system, and it’s even more unclear why it’s taken 17 years since the introduction of the MetroCard for this basic piece of useful information to make its way to turnstile displays.

Even with MetroCards potentially on the way out in a matter of years (rather than, say, decades), this is a welcome, if long delayed, development. I’ll try to snap a photo when I see this in place somewhere, but I didn’t notice it this morning at Grand Army Plaza or at lunch when I swiped through on a whim at Times Square. Keep your eyes out, though; it’s coming soon.

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12 comments

Eric August 8, 2012 - 3:13 pm

I wonder how this works. Do they have to flash the firmware of every single turnstile? That’ll take a while.

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Matt August 8, 2012 - 3:18 pm

what do they want to replace metrocards with?

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Benjamin Kabak August 8, 2012 - 3:20 pm

A contactless solution, most likely credit and debit card-based. I’ve written about it in the past. (Coverage here.)

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Matt August 8, 2012 - 3:29 pm

Good read, thank you.

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Seth Rosenblum August 8, 2012 - 4:43 pm

When did this first show up on buses?

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Benjamin Kabak August 8, 2012 - 4:44 pm

It’s been on buses as long as I can remember.

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mike d. August 9, 2012 - 12:42 am

When they start accepting unlimited metrocards

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Ricky Tinkelman August 8, 2012 - 5:13 pm

Also working on the J at the Broad Street stop, last stop in Manhattan

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Jesse August 8, 2012 - 9:08 pm

Been seeing it for the last few days at the Whitehall R stop.

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boerumhillscott August 9, 2012 - 8:21 am

I’ve been happy to see this over the last few days.

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Ian August 9, 2012 - 9:29 am

When the women swiped in front of me this morning, I noticed the display said something about “one week remaining,” although when I swiped it still only said “Go.” That was Graham Avenue.

While this is probably a helpful and welcomed addition to the Metrocard, it might also slow down turnstile transactions if everyone is constantly looking at their end date. Turnstile design is important for this. For instance, the PATH turnstiles have the LCD positioned dead center on the turnstile. This position is too far forward to both see the expiration date and move through the turnstile in one fluid motion. Ultimately the choice is between viewing your expiration date (or remaining trips) and moving efficiently through the turnstile. The MTA display screens are positioned a bit better than this, but certainly not on the revolving gates.

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An ode to ‘Please Swipe Again’ :: Second Ave. Sagas August 10, 2012 - 12:21 am

[…] this week, when we learned that subway turnstiles have started to show the expiration dates for unlimited ride MetroCards, I thought of it as a parting gift from Cubic. The MTA has repeatedly […]

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