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Metro posting new fare signs

Metro is changing the signs in the stations to try to end rider confusion about the second round of fare increases, now scheduled to take effect on Tuesday.

Here's the bottom line: As of Tuesday, riders will pay 25 cents more per trip if they use a paper Farecard. What riders see on the big signs that show the station-to-station fares are for SmarTrip card users.

fare_sign.jpg Metro is posting yellow paper signs and update decals on station to station fare calculator signs. (WMATA photo)

Sign changes
Because of all the confusion about this new round of fare increases, transit authority employees today are pasting yellow paper signs on the fare vendors and station kiosks. These paper signs say that the bigger signs, the ones with the station-to-station fares, apply to riders paying with SmarTrip cards. Riders using paper Farecards will start paying the 25 cent surcharge, because Metro is trying to encourage them to switch over to SmarTrip.

The permanent signs will be fixed over the next few weeks, Metro says. In the meantime, temporary decals will replace the paper signs and will remain in place until the permanent signs are manufactured.

Once this flurry of paperwork and sign painting is done, the revised permanent signs will list the paper Farecard one-way trip prices and include a line that states that fares paid with a SmarTrip card will be 25 cents less on each ride.

Transportation politics
Riders aren't getting a discount for using SmarTrip cards. They are paying what they would have been paying anyway, based on the fare increases that took effect June 27. What's new is the 25 cent surcharge for using the paper Farecard.

Peak of the peak
A second type of surcharge also is now scheduled to take effect on Tuesday. That's the 20 cents extra for riders entering the train system between 4:30 and 6 p.m. That will apply whether a rider uses a SmarTrip card or a paper Farecard. What matters is the time a rider goes through the fare gate. If you go through the gate at 4:25, you will pay 20 cents less than you will at 4:35, no matter how far or how long your ride is. Same on the other side of the peak: If you go through the gate at 6:05 p.m., you will pay 20 cents less than you would at 5:55 p.m.

By the end of the month, Metro is hoping to apply this surcharge apply to riders who go through the gates between 7:30 and 9 a.m., too. It can't all happen at once, Metro says, because of the difficulty of programming the more complex transactions into the fare gate readers.

Slower gates?
During my online chat today, riders continued to say that they think it's taking slightly longer for the gates to open after they tap their SmarTrip cards. It's not a lot longer. It's just enough so that if you're moving at a typical Washington pace, you now walk into the closed gate rather than moving straight through.

Riders are noticing this at the same time Metro is going through the complex reprogramming of the fare system. I'm asking Metro if these two things are related.

By Robert Thomson  | August 2, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail  
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Comments

I have a question about the online account to manage your SmarTrip card:

When I signed up for my online account and viewed my usage history, I can see all of my individual transactions (entry, exit, parking and funds added to card). However, from the point of my registration (July 19th) onward, my daily parking does not show up as an individual transaction. What seems to happen is that the next morning, when I swipe my card at the faregate, the balance has been adjusted to reflect the previous night's parking, but there's no notation that that is what it's for. I do see from the FAQ that some transactions, like bus rides, will not be reflected for 3 days, but it doesn't mention anything about parking. I've submittted my question to Metro directly but haven't heard back. I also contacted the SmarTrip number, but the customer service rep couldn't tell me why that was happening either. It is certainly a useful tool, but it's only as useful as the information it provides.

Posted by: bdk64 | August 2, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

"Once this flurry of paperwork and sign painting is done, the revised permanent signs will list the paper Farecard one-way trip prices and include a line that states that fares paid with a SmarTrip card will be 25 cents less on each ride."

I guess since someone will have to be confused and do extra math in their head, better me than the tourists who are completely unfamiliar with the system.

Posted by: DOEJN | August 2, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

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