pComp Week 3 – Digital i/o & Observation

Set up a digital out and in and created short vid about it:

2017-09-23 18.44.42 from Marco Wylie on Vimeo.


For this weeks assignment I chose the Bedford L’s subway turnstile (although this observation applies to all of nyc’s subway turnstiles). I noticed that people generally flow through with their cards with ease when and if their cards work. The swiping function and whether or not a person has insufficient funds on their card determines the flow of the crowd. Whenever someone gets stuck swiping their card many times for lack of functional knowledge or whatever it may be, the crowd gets backed up. If this occurs during rush hour, the chaos it creates is stronger. People end up having to back out of the front of the turnstile, which leads to the line behind them having to awkwardly back up too. Not having enough money on your card could cause the same problem, backing up the flow.

I think this could be solved a few different ways. The MTA has already introduced an automatically refillable Metrocard, but this doesn’t get around the issue of swiping the card to fast and trying to go through only to awkwardly get jolted back by the turnstile. In other countries, take France for example, you put a small card through the top of the machine and it takes it and spits it out half a foot below and opens the doors to let you in. I think you can buy a card that allows you to just place it near a sensor that allows you to open the doors and proceed as well.

While observing the turnstile traffic at the L train on Bedford Ave, I noticed that the people who were the slowest were usually tourists trying to figure out how to position the Metrocard correctly or struggling with the rate of speed of the swipe. Being a native New Yorker, I’m very familiar with how to use the turnstiles, but that is not to say that I don’t ever hold up the line trying to swipe.

I’m guessing the way that the whole process works is that by registering the swipe of a Metrocard, a lever is released ¬†which then allows you to go through the turnstile.

Assuming everything goes smoothly, the act that takes the least amount of time is going through the turnstile. Getting your metro card out, if you didn’t in advance, and swiping it takes the longest amount of time.