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The NYC MetroCard Vending Machine (MVM) is an imposing ATM-like device that dispenses MetroCards and paper single-journey tickets. The MVM has a freestanding stainless steel enclosure with graphics on the front to assist passengers with the purchasing cycle. The machine is computer-controlled, and it retains financial data in the event of a communications failure.

The MVM has the capacity of communicating with the passenger in eight different languages. The main medium for passenger interaction is the touch-screen display. An LED strip annunciator provides additional information as required, such as out-of-service, etc. The computer can be configured to display advertising when it is not being used or during waiting periods, such as validation of a credit card payment. This provides an additional revenue stream.

The MVM has a built-in credit and debit card authorization system. It is on-line through armored communication links. The machine also accepts bills, coins and used MetroCards with residual value.

MVM Specifications

Cabinet           14-gauge stainless steel
                  485 pounds
Payment Methods   US Notes: $1, $5, $10, $20 (New and old)
                  US Coins: 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, $1
                  MetroCard with remaining value
                  Credit and debit cards
Vaults            Armored bill vault
                  Armored coin vault
Main Display      17-inch SVGA colour monitor with waveflow
                  touchscreen overlay
Security          Interlocking vaults
                  Intrusion alarm
                  Magnetic and optical switches
                  Monitored encrypted communication link
                  Impact alarm
Reliability       15,000 mean cycles before failure
                  0.5 hour mean time to repair
Internal UPS      Yes
Environmental     -10°F to +120°F, operating
                  0 to 97% humidity, non-condensing

As mentioned above, the Metrocard Vending Machines can display information in any of eight languages. The MTA has used this ability to actually make life easier for commuters.

The eight languages available are:

all using the proper alphabet. The screen usually has room to display up to six choices. English and Spanish are always displayed, since those are essentially the default languages of New York City. The other language choices are programmed in depending on the neighborhood that the machine is in (i.e. the machines in heavily Korean neighborhoods like Flushing would show Korean as a third choice, and the Russians in Brighton Beach would find Russian as a menu item).

To make life easier for the hapless commuter that selects the wrong option, the screen layout is always the same, and the Go Back and Cancel buttons are always in the same place, set out from the rest of the screen. (For the confused or lost in a foreign font, the buttons are on the lower right of the screen. Go Back is the white button, Cancel the red). In fact, once one gets used to the layout, one can just press any language button and still have a successful transaction.

The machines can also be used to reinforce language training. Since one always has the option to cancel in case of an accident, one can select a language that s/he is practicing and try and get a MetroCard using only that language.

Keep in mind that this may be an expensive experiment. This noder assumes no responsibility for any harm, financial or otherwise, that comes from this practice. Thank you.

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