SmartLink, not so smart

I recently started a new job that requires me to take the path to New Jersey.  While I certainly had really good impression of Jersey City, I must complain about how stupid the so-called SmartLink cards are (or perhaps the experience of purchasing one).

Knowing that I will be commuting to Jersey City on a daily basis now, I decided that I need to get a monthly pass. Yesterday morning, I left my house 5 minutes earlier, so that I could buy a SmartLink card at the World Trade Center (WTC).

WTC is so beautiful. It makes me happy to think about commuting through the station. As I reached the station, I approached one of the ticketing vending machines to buy a SmartLink card. But…I couldn’t figure out which button to press because I only saw the option of reload. So I went to another machine, still, couldn’t figure it out. If you’ve ever been to WTC during rush hour, you know how busy it gets. I felt a bit embarrassed as there were people waiting in line to top up their cards. I decided to step away and “studied” the machine from far. Still couldn’t figure out how to get a card. Eventually, I decided to ask a woman in line. She then was trying to help me out but we had two problems 1) she barely spoke English and 2) she also couldn’t figure out how to get a SmartLink card after trying for 2 minutes.

Okay, so I probably should give up by now since I had to get to work. But wait, I saw a guy that looks like he’s working at the station. I walked up to him immediately and asked him which machine I should be using. He told I have to use a $5 bill (and yes it has to be an EXACT $5 bill) to buy a card from the machine. Huh? I was confused but whatever I needed to buy a card. I then walked up to the nearest coffeeshop and asked the cashier to change my $10 bill into two $5 bills. And then I went back down to the machines right away. But hold on, I still couldn’t figure out which button to press to buy a new card. Am I stupid or something? What’s going on with me?

Thankfully (I guess), I saw the same guy from earlier (and yes he does work at the station), he told me I have to go to the other side of the station to use this ONE machine (yes, there’s only one machine) and insert my $5 bill to get a card.

Did I eventually find it? Yes, I did. Did I have a good experience? Hell, no!

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