2017-11-01 / Editorials

Subway Enhancements: Boon Or Bummer?

Major changes are brewing for the subways. One change is a migration away from the MetroCard, to be phased out over the course of about five years. Getting away from tokens took us a few years to get used to. Some people still miss knowing how many rides they have left at a glance. But we finally got the EasyPay MetroCard and love not ever having to line up to buy rides, whether at the booth or the machines. By mid-2019 the new process of using one’s phone or credit card for admission to our mass transit system is slated to start phasing in. Some are not sure why this is an improvement yet, except for bus riders who have had a hard time getting access to new MetroCards or refills if they are not near a train (except that that issue is obviated by EasyPay MetroCard). What if your cellphone is not very smart? Or the battery dies, or it is broken? They actually will provide a contactless transit card to use instead. Hopefully it will have the auto-refill feature. According to the MTA, the new system will cut down on maintenance costs and help the vendor keep up with new tech as it emerges. We must say, though, we are excited about the end of swiping, and “Please try again at this turnstile.”

The other trend is the removal of seats from train cars. Again, we are not sure why this is even being considered. It really seems that passengers are being treated like a herd of cattle. Animal rights, which we emphatically support, should apply to us as well. We welcome progress on both fronts, but again are leery of where this is going. Rather than reduce breakdowns, this idea just forces more people into already-crowded cars. We feel it opens the door to a trend of no seats on any trains. It is bad enough the extra-small seat spacing forces us to rub (or poke) elbows with people we hardly know. We certainly don’t feel comfortable being packed in like sardines – don’t fish have rights too?

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