Dear fellow commuters,
My wife and I are parents of two young kids, and we find the elevators in the subway system to be a real blessing in getting around the city with a stroller.
What we don’t find nearly as pleasant is the way of getting into the subway system itself. Presently, the “correct” way is to wait on line for the station agent, show them that you’re swiping a fare, turn the turnstile while they’re watching, and then the station agent will open the gate for you. That’s the theory.
In practice, this always works out differently – sometimes, there’s no station agent present, sometimes they’re on the phone and could care less to open the door; sometimes they don’t pay attention as you’re turning the turnstile, and act as if you didn’t pay your fare. Most of the time, the gate is open anyway, and even by the time you show the station agent that you’re going to pay your fare, they’re on to something else. To be honest, it’s less frustrating when there is no station agent present.
I notice that many stations have a special entry for the “Autogate” Metrocard, which is only usable by the handicapped. The trouble is, strollers & people with heavy luggage outnumber handicapped persons in wheelchairs in the subway system by [uneducated guess] a margin of at least 1000:1. In the last two years, I think we’ve barely seen one or two wheelchairs in the subway system.
Why can’t the MTA open the AutoGate access to everyone? Putting the Autogate system together must have cost a huge fortune, and no doubt it was paid for with grants and tax dollars. By letting everyone with oversize items (strollers, suitcases, contrabasses, etc.) use the Autogate, this would let the station agent focus on other customers, and make life less frustrating for the rest of us.
While we’re at it, is it possible to get rid of the emergency exit noise, the one that happens when you try to open the service gate? Everyone ignores that sound, just like the car alarms of 10 years ago.
How can we make this a reality? Should we start a petition?