Thursday, February 9, 2012

What Have You Done During My Absence?!?

I know I don't live in Manhattan anymore. Even as I still consider hizzoner my mayor, and Mimi's my pizza place. But while I've been gone, something absolutely silly has happened, and you might not be aware.

I speak of something I discovered, purely by accident, yesterday: select bus service.

I attempted to board the M15 at 125th and 2nd and was told the bus did not accept metrocards. Wait for that to sink in. No. Instead, I was told to put my metrocard into a metrocard dispenser-looking thing outside the bus, by the bus shelter, and get, wait for it, a receipt. Then I could board the bus and, again, hold your breaths, not show anyone my receipt. Of course, by this time, I had missed that bus because, well, there was a substantial line of other people waiting to get receipts from the metrocard kiosk.

WTF? doesn't even begin to cover it.

I realize that I am of the old school that clearly remembers tokens and their phase out, but I also remember that metrocards were designed to be easier. Have metrocard, have access to public transport. Now, less than 20 years later, and the metrocard WON'T gain me access to public transport? Explain to me how this makes anything easier - to say nothing of the fact that I had no idea where this "select bus" planned on stopping and was just happy that I wanted to go to a two-way crosstown intersection which I felt sure would be a stop.

Devoted partner attempted to make sense of this by saying that it was, perhaps, designed to prevent long lines of people waiting to insert their metrocards into the slot on the bus - strangely enough, the MTA sort of agrees by claiming that you can now board at the front or the back of the bus. Hallelujah, praise jeebus. But explain one tiny thing to me: would it not have been ever so slightly easier to, I don't know - have a second metrocard reader at the back door of the bus? Wouldn't that accomplish the same thing and save me from a multi-step process to RIDE A BUS? After all, there was a second MTA employee on my select bus, presumably to check that I had a receipt (also, do you know how easy it is to misplace a receipt the second you receive it? Am I supposed to clutch this wispy piece of paper in my hand like it's a treasure map on the chance the receipt police come a-knockin?).

This is, easily, the silliest technological backstep I've seen in a while, and I can only assume it was allowed to happen because I moved away. And before you start to make it out like I'm the crazy one, how about this gem of information from the MTA website:

"Neither machine sells or refills MetroCard; they are not vending machines, and do not make change."

So to board a select bus you need to 1. Go to the subway station and buy a metrocard; 2. Walk to the bus stop and insert your metrocard into a kiosk that serves to only print a receipt; 3. Not lose said receipt because 4. Someone maybe perhaps will ask to see it.

Sorry, fellow New Yorkers, this is clearly my fault for leaving. But since I have no sway with your mayor, perhaps this is something you'll have to fight without me. Mention my name, though, I like to feel like I'm still relevant.

1 comment:

  1. Ahoy!
    I commute on Select Bus Service everyday and love it. It so beats the tar out of jamming myself into the first, but usually second, over crowded 4/5 train that stops at Union Square.

    Your partner is wise in addition to devoted. Sure there are times when you might miss the bus, but there are many more times when SBS gets you where you want to go faster because you don't have to wait for a mega long line of people to step up, dip, retrieve MCard, and move along.

    Once you learn the steps to SBSing, it's easy and fun to do the dance!