In May of 2015, metro customers in the New York City area were significantly inconvenienced when a series of outages at MetroCard vending machines made it difficult (and in certain situations downright impossible) to purchase the cards necessary to ride public transportation. The vending machines themselves still technically worked, but they were unable to properly process the payment options that customers needed to actually complete their transaction. Now, other providers are learning from the mistakes of New York City by offering ticket vending machines that are designed to address these types of issues.
In Rhode Island, for example, RIPTA has recently rolled out a series of vending machines in Kennedy Plaza that are designed to both address the issues that many travelers are facing and reduce lines and wait times at ticket windows at the same time. The RIPTA ticket vending machines accept both credit and debit card (but do not currently have a cash option at this time) and issue one day passes, seven day passes and two hour unlimited passes. Though these machines were only recently installed in the plaza, they are already yielding significant performance improvements across the board.
By far, one of the best ways to relieve or even completely eliminate ticket vending machine mayhem involves making sure that these machines are being maintained in the right way. Ticket vending machine maintenance schedules should always include a number of important elements, like offering alternative payment solutions if something is not currently operating in the way that it should be. If the credit card option goes down, for example, users should still be able to pay for their purchases with cash.
Instead of taking a machine offline that needs extensive repairs, substitute equipment should be ready to be swapped in at a moment’s notice. Expert advice should also be sought by the New York City Transit Authority, RIPTA and other organizations employing these machines to help keep down time at a minimum.
The ticket vending machines in Rhode Island are a massive step in the right direction for weary travelers everywhere. Instead of standing in long lines at a ticket window, customers can now purchase transit tickets on their own terms whenever they’d like. The Transit Authority indicated that they will be carefully monitoring the performance of these ticket machines in their current location in Kennedy Plaza and, if they prove to be a success, will soon roll them out in Pawtucket Transit Center and in other locations in the near future.