Usability & the NYC MTA MetroCard

Not that the MTA is known for providing a good experience… but…

I purchase a pre-tax monthly MTA MetroCard through a program at work, and I’ve noticed something inconsistent. When I drop my card in the machine on an MTA bus, it let’s me know the date that my card will expire. However, when I swipe my card in the subway, it just says “Go.”

Wouldn’t it make sense to make these two experiences consistent? The great thing about being reminded of the expiration date on the bus is that I’m prompted to bring my new card on the day after the old one expires. This prevents me (most of the time) from holding up the line swiping the expired one, waiting for it to tell me it is expired, and then fishing around in my wallet for the new card.

One would think that the difference in software would be a simple one. After all, both systems are able to tell you your balance on a non-unlimited card when you swipe it.

Though minor, it would be a vast improvement on the subway where, in the heat of catching the next train¬† waiting behind someone to swipe a second card through the turnstiles is a huge, frustrating length of time (says something about perception over reality, doesn’t it?).

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