Poor Information, Poor Planning, Poor WMATA

Ah, the continuing saga of SmarTrip and WMATA. Will they discount the $5 cards and make them more affordable to strapped commuters who are already smarting from a fare increase? Will they allow riders to exit the station with a negative balance? Will scofflaws abuse the system? Who cares, the situation is even worse than we thought. An “embarrassment”, even! Via WTOP:

Metro says it has no idea when — or even if — it will be able to put a SmarTrip discount in place.

During a tense board meeting Thursday, Metro Board members talked about the issue, but could not find a solution.

“This is an embarrassment,” said Board Member Jim Graham, who represents D.C. “I think we should move off this agenda item. With every passing minute, this looks worse.”

I’m concerned about Metro Board considering changes when they are on the receiving end of “bad information”: Continue reading

Maybe SmarTrip Won’t be Discounted, After All


This SmarTrip card is in the red...thanks to a sharpie.

Last week, I posted about having your say regarding Metro’s proposal to no longer allow negative balances on SmarTrip cards. The whole reason Metro considered changing the current system, which allows riders to exit even if they don’t have enough money on their card to cover metro fare was because of a proposal to lower the cost of a SmarTrip card from $5 to $2.50, in order to make the plastic fare card more accessible and affordable. Laudable goal, right?

Well, yes, but officials at Metro then theorized that people could abuse the system by purchasing a card and taking a ride which cost more than $2.50. That’s why they considered eliminating negative balances. What they didn’t consider was how complicated this would all become. For example, there were no plans to change the Exit Fare machines to accept credit cards– they are cash only. That was one of the reasons why negative balances were allowed in the first place; the machines for adding value to SmarTrip cards are beyond the fare gates. Continue reading

Speak up for SmarTrip negativity on GGW!

Mr. T in DC

Mr. T in DC's SmarTrip Card

Greater Greater Washington‘s founder, David Alpert, (who, incidentally, is the subject of a cover story on “Smart Growth” for the latest edition of the City Paper) is calling on readers to go over six possible alternatives to WMATA’s plan to no longer allow SmarTrip cards to have a negative balance.

WMATA raised the hackles of many riders when it announced SmarTrips would no longer go negative. Responding to the outcry, CFO Carol Kissal and her team developed six alternatives for handing the issue, which they presented to the Riders’ Advisory Council last night.

Continue reading

Top up your SmarTrip Card, ASAP

Remember: on Monday, Metro rides will become more expensive. Instead of two tiers of prices, there will be three, with a peak-of-the-peak surcharge added to the morning rush hour(s). From WTOP:

Metro will charge Metrorail riders an extra 20 cents on weekdays between 7:30 and 9 a.m.

A 20-cent charge between 4:30 and 6 p.m. was put into place earlier this month.