They're supposed to carry riders more quickly to their destinations.
Sometimes the city's "Select Bus Service" (SBS) require extra steps.
Riders swipe MetroCards at sidewalk machines to speed up the boarding process. When those machines are down, riders should inform the driver and swipe at the next stop.
PIX11's Greg Mocker found riders on the M15 SBS jumping off, trying to swipe, and trying to get back on before the bus left.
Sometimes they have to wait or risk the consequences.
Riders without proof of payment could get a $100 fine if enforcement teams are working those routes.
Along Second Avenue's M15 SBS in Manhattan, machines at two stops were out of service due to work in the area. The MTA and NYC Department of Transportation work together to coordinate bus stops and ConEdison has a role, as well.
The MTA says it is usually aware of broken machines.
Rashida Craddock contacted PIX11's Mocker about her experience with a violation for not swiping her card. The machines were not broken at the stop, but there was a delay as peopled attempted to swipe their cards.
She argued that her valid unlimited card was a form of payment. But the transit adjudication officer did not accept that as a defense. MTA policy requires select bus riders have proof of payment, even if the machines are busy or broken.
Craddock suggested the MTA enforcement teams carry machines that could validate cards in case people loose the proof of payment, if machines are broken, or if lines are long.
The MTA considered the possibility but the technology was not available. MetroCard machines along Select Bus Service routes do not have the ability to add money or time to a card because that would slow down the process, says a spokesperson for the MTA.
The MTA and NYC Department of Transportation say the design has made the select routes an average 20 percent faster.
There are currently 8 routes in all the boroughs designated for select buses. More are planned next in Queens and Brooklyn.
Broken machines should be reported to 511.