04 September 2006

The Outdated Big Apple

One thing I really appreciated during my recent Canadian vacation was credit card acceptance at most, if not all, the parking meters I came across. Surely the areas I visited were touristy so it's possible that only meters in touristy areas were outfitted to take credit cards. In Montreal, I parked in garages or parking lots only so I cannot tell whether the meters were friendly to credit cards. In Quebec, I parked on the street once and while the meters wouldn't take credit cards, at least they took everything from nickels and up. Take that, you NYC quarter-only meters. In Ottawa and Toronto, all the meters I came across gladly took credit card and spit back a little slip that was to be put on the dashboard. In my own Brooklyn neighborhood, only recently that we had this novelty, albeit it's still limited to coins and special parking cards that have to be purchased in advance. If I'm a tourist to NYC, the lack of credit card acceptance for street parking will certainly be a reason not to come back. I read somewhere that the technology was in some test areas of Manhattan.

I didn't get a chance to check out the subway systems in the Canadian cities I visited, but I'm pretty sure they are better than NYC's ancient subway in many ways. Way back in 1993 or so, I visited Hong Kong and even back then its subway stations were temperature-controlled. Here and now in NYC, I dread the trip home waiting for the D train on the lowest level of West Fourth station. I would stand there and beads of sweat would form on my forehead and gently roll down my face then to their final destination on the platform floor... MetroCard sucks because it doesn't suck. I don't know who else competed for the business with the MTA, but I hate swiping MetroCard. The turnstile's card reader should suck the cards in like Washington D.C. and elsewhere. Every now and then, my string of good luck with MetroCard would run out and I would be stuck swiping the card over and over, alternating between fast and slow. If the stupid thing is designed to suck the card in instead of leaving the chance of a speed error to the human rider, such problems would be non-existent.

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