The double edged sword of the Metrocard vending machine is examined by the Times today, what with the increasing number of service calls for the machines as tokens and token booths have disappeared over the past year. The MTA points to"vandalism and the demands of a 24-hour transit system" as the reason for the system's breakdowns, and Times reporter Michael Luo compares other cities' transit system machines (all made by Cubic, company that works with transit systems and the defense department) to ours:
• New York City: 4 million riders daily; 637/ 800 service calls a day
Chicago: 1.5 million riders daily; 340 machines/60 service calls (some parts of transit system shut down at night)
D.C.: 650,000 riders daily; machines work 99.6 percent of the time (Metro shuts down at night)
The article is an interesting look at human's frustrating interaction with machines, while under the pressure of making the train. Gothamist takes a moment to thank the nice people out there, just leaving the subway, who will swipe us through with their unlimited cards when time is tight.

Gothamist on those who are able to fool turnstiles by bending their Metrocards and on Wesley Clark's problem with using a Metrocard.