NYC Subway Etiquette 101: Metrocard tips.

You swipe your metrocard, and a little message reads “Please swipe again”, you swipe again, and yet another message says “Please swipe again”, then you swipe one final time and the card reads “Just used”, or even better “See Agent”.  Arrgghhhh.. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME? WHY WHY WHY!

I saw this happen to someone this morning, behind him were two people who looked so angry you’d think someone had spit their elderly mother in the face. This got me to thinking though (and you know it’s dangerous when I think):

1. It is absolutely ridiculous and quite funny how angry people get when someone interrupts the flow of Metrocard traffic.

2. A few things you can do to prevent being the one that actually deserves the dirty looks.

3. A few tips on metrocard common sense.

Some of these things may seem fairly obvious to  you, but believe me I see them every single day. Here is a list of actions that New Yorkers utterly hate and will probably bump or run you over for, followed by a few tips I employ with my metrocard.

Metrocard Don’ts:

1. Do not have your metrocard in your wallet, purse or pocket when you arrive at the turnstyle. By the time you are there the card should already be in your hand, deployed and ready to swipe.

2. Do not stop at the turnstyle to have a discussion with a friend or say goodbye to someone. New Yorkers are as sentimental as the next person, and we want you to have your moment with whomever it may be, however not at the expense of disrupting Metrocard traffic. So move your butt over to the side and handle your business out of our way!

3. Don’t swipe someone in with your unlimited card, if you are caught by the police you will get a ticket or fine. If you intend on sharing your card, then use your head in how you do it. Swiping the card in plain sight is not a good idea. I’ll let you figure out ways on how to avoid getting in trouble over this silly rule. This rule only applies to unlimited cards, you are ok with cash cards.

Metrocard Dos:

1. If you buy unlimited, buy a weekly card. I have a logical reason why I do this. If you buy a monthly card and it becomes damaged, your initial investment is much larger, the MTA will USUALLY replace your card, but you’ll have to buy another one to hold you over while they review and eventually mail you a new one. The same applies if you lose your card, but obviously that’s harder to prove. By getting a lower costing 1 week card, your initial upfront investment is lower and it doesn’t hurt your pocket as much if you have to buy a second one for whatever reason.

2. Have a backup metrocard. This is not only for the benefit of the people behind you, but for your own benefit as well. If your train is coming and you are running late, (as I often am) then it is a great idea to have a card ready, boom! I usually have an unlimited weekly card, but if that fails or runs out without my being prepared, I immediately fall back to the cash card I carry.

3. Soon the MTA will be releasing a new style of metrocard that will support “unlimited” rides and upon expiration become a cash ride card. This will eliminate the need for carrying the backup cash card I mentioned above.

4. Don’t mix up your cards, it’s hard to tell them apart! There are few things more annoying to a New Yorker that is in a rush  than seeing some fool swiping, one, then two, then three, then four cards trying to figure out which one works! GET OUT OF THE WAY YO!

5. Know what you want from the vending machine. There are times during the day when you can go to the vending machine to learn how to use it. I recommend you do this if you are not familiar with it. Doing this during rush hour will only get you hated and the people behind you will get flustered.

These are a few simple tips on surviving in the second city within New York City, the subway!  If you have any tips I may have missed that you’d like to contribute, please put them in the comments section, really good ones may be added to this article!



Growing Up Bronx

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Please take note of the date on a post as it may be an old, outdated viewpoint. I keep those old posts to show my evolution and progress as a human being. We all make mistakes and say dumb stuff. Hiding it doesn't help anyone and real growth matters. Own your flaws so that others may learn from them. Finally, the opinions and views expressed here are solely those of the respective authors.
Angel Rodriguez

Angel Rodriguez

Angel covers fitness, social issues, reviews, news & more! He's a veteran, tech and fitness pro which has been featured on Huffpo, NatGeo, NPR, NY1, HLN, Men's Fitness, MTV, & other major platforms. Angel is also Brazilian Jiujitsu White belt.
Angel Rodriguez

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