Archive for October 19th, 2011

Why you should not jump the turnstile.

One the first things they tell you as a foreign graduate student in New York is that you shouldn’t jump the subway turnstiles and I’ll tell you why.

Sadly, the New York subway is my current form of transportation to the city and therefore have had lots of experience with it despite only having lived in the city a little over two months.

I first rode the New York city subway in 1994 when I first came here. Back then it was powered by tokens. They were easy, just pop them in and enter. No need to get a confiramation that you paid your fare.

When I came back in 2002, metrocards have been introduced and it took my father a bit to figure out how it worked. There wasn’t any indicator on what direction we were supposed to swipe it in until a stranger got the card the swiped it for us. Whew!

In my station, there are two ways to get to the Manhattan bound trains. One is through a regular turnstile and the other is through the more secure rotating type door that you can’t hop over.

I’ve noticed that regular commuters, when faced with urgency (like the train is on the platform) will make a dash for the first vacant entrance they see.

For months I used the rotating door turnstile and not the regular turnstile though it seemed faster.

People would swipe their metrocard on the sensors which are a pain for me sometimes towards the end of the month when for some reason the sensor would not recognize my card which is annoying. There are those who will swipe their card twice and they’ll get in. But usally if it hits 3 times, you can’t use the card at that entrance anymore which is a pain.


With the exception of families with strollers, I’d say that most people use both entrances equally. People would go to the first available one or the easiest to access. Much like electricity, they head to the path of least resistance. Those with children would gravitate to the much easier traditional turnstyles compared to the swivel type.

Of course those without a ticket, will jump over the turnstyles unbeknownst to them of the plain clothes policeman who is known to linger in the station from time to time.


More often than not, most users would not look at the indicator to pass unless they couldn’t. Those with stored value cards would occasionally look at the amount remaining on the card while others will just run by.

It’s actually interesting to watch people handle the subway metrocard shuffle. I’m more used to the RFID card type of transportation and I asked a friend to send me pictures from Singapore about their underground system.

Using whatt they call an EZlink card, they use it for a variety of items such as paying for public transportation (including taxis), toll fare, and even buying stuff from 7-11.

The method of using the card is effortless.

Just tapping the card om the sensor and off you go.

II wonder when New York will catch on to this?