The computerized ticket kiosks in Penn Station pulled a HAL 9000 yesterday, all but telling would-be ticket buyers, “That’s not going to happen, Dave.”
In a fit of will that would have pleased the famously rebellious cyber-brain from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the machines refused to work as programmed during the evening rush hour, leaving angry LIRRers without their new monthlies on the first commuting day of April. I don’t know how it works in that other train terminal in town, but a grain of sand has yet to be flushed from the well-oiled commutation machine that is Penn Station. We can land a man on the moon, but the only way you can purchase a ticket with a credit card at Penn is via the relatively new vending machines. So when the kiosks go down, you either have to be carrying an extra few hundred in spending money, or hope you can find an empty stool in Fast Tracks until the machines come back online.
Fortunately, officials wised up quickly, realizing the mob was turning ugly and the in-station Kmart has plenty of stout rope in stock. They announced that commuters would be able to use their March monthlies not only that evening, but even the next morning.
The one problem: Many of the train riders had used their old monthlies to get into work that morning, knowing the pass is good until midday of the first business day of the new month. In that situation, the standard operating procedure is for the onboard conductor to take the old ticket. So the only persons who still had their March tickets were those of us lucky enough to have encountered a lazy ticket-taker that morning. All the others were going to be paying top dollar for an onboard one-way.
There’s no word yet on how many ropes Kmart sold.