How to Bypass a Frozen Ticket Touchscreen

by Barrett

What should you do when ‘Touch to Start’ doesn’t work?  You can either pay the premium ticket price on the train or figure out a workaround…

What should you do when ‘Touch to Start’ doesn’t work? You can either pay the premium ticket price on the train or figure out a workaround…

Commuting to work during a snowstorm on the train has certain advantages. Primarily, you don’t have to drive your car around like you’re on the
ice planet Hoth.
Any Road Warrior will tell you that.

But you’d better arrive at the train station prepared to step right on the train…

Ticket HAL Hates the Cold
As I carefully traversed the icy platform last week, I realized I needed to buy a ticket. The eight M8 rail cars were due in less than five minutes, and so I shuffled quickly over to the glowing ticket machine and accessed its condition.

There were numerous ice pellets clinging to its metal frame, but the automated stationmaster appeared impervious, standing silent, ready to serve.

I pulled off my glove, exposing flesh to the hungry elements. I quickly jabbed at the touchscreen to buy a ticket.
Nothing happened.
I touched a different part of the screen to generate a response.

This supposedly weatherproof HAL was apparently iced over from the inside.
I would have to buy my ticket on the train and pay the premium.
(Metro North charges a huge convenience fee on board.)

In defeat, I slowly backed up into the swirling ice storm.
Then I heard a wispy voice through the howling wind.

“Use the keypad.”


“Use the KEYPAD!”

My Obi-Wan Moment
I turned around and realized the mysterious voice was coming from a fellow commuter. I could barely make out his face, which was hidden by a huge scarf.

So I inspected the physical keypad to the right of the touchscreen. Over all my commuting years, I had only used this credit-card keypad to type in my zip code after executing the traditional ‘swipe.’

Apparently, I still looked a little confused.
How was I supposed to bridge these two very different tactile interfaces? The touchscreen layout did not translate to the numeric 3 x 4 keypad.

Then, Ben’s voice focused my attention…
“Type in the number option.”


“If you want the first choice, press 1. If you want the second choice, press 2. Then press the enter key.”


Suddenly, it seemed so easy. I pressed away at the antiquated numeric keys and within seconds, I had my ticket.

In Case of Touchscreen Emergency, Break Glass
I turned back to face my Jedi Tech Master, but he was gone!
(just kidding)
Actually, I thanked him and then quickly looked to see if the train was coming.
(Not quite yet….)

So I had a moment to further access this malfunctioning ticket robot and my inability to work it without a little intervention from the commuting ‘Force.’ I looked for any posted instructions.
Indeed, there were none….

I carefully walked over to my usual boarding position on the platform and considered my experience with this faulty tech.

Use the Keypad, Silly!
Are you simply supposed to know to use the keypad as an obvious backup to any touchscreen?

Or is this a secret ‘Jedi Tech Trick’ I’ve stumbled upon?

Either way, I figured it was worth mentioning…

I don’t know if this technical bypass is going to work with every malfunctioning touchscreen you encounter.
(Assuming it has a matching credit-card keypad)

But it’s worth a try.
Even though there is no ‘try.’

So summon your inner Yoda and DO!