Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Transportation Home  |  Discussions  |  Traffic  |  Columns  |  Q&A     |      Twitter |    Facebook   |  phone Alerts

SmarTrip problems at Metro lots

From time to time, Metro riders who park at the transit lots and garages report problems with the SmarTrip card readers at the exits, but in the past week, the reports have been more widespread than usual. Here's an example.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I park at the Landover stop on a daily basis and for the past couple of days, the SmarTrip readers for exiting the parking lot have been broken.

The lot attendants have to have everyone exiting fill out a form saying that they will send in the payment. The line at rush hour is ridiculous! If their equipment is broken, then they should simply let people park for free.
Vinny Perez, Annapolis

Have you had a similar problem with the card readers recently, and have you noticed others having the same problem? The stations I've heard about from riders are New Carrollton, Rockville and now Landover. [Update: I heard from a rider who said I should add Vienna to the list. She said the stalled line was so long to get out of the south parking garage one evening last week that her husband walked home, then went back for the car a few hours later. Then on Monday, there was no line, because the gates were just left up.]

I'm asking the transit authority if it is aware of a widespread problem. It might be a quirk confined to a few stations on a few nights. Or perhaps it's related to the reprogramming of the SmarTrip system to handle more complex transactions.

In the past two weeks, we've discussed the slight slowdown in opening the fare gates caused by the programming upgrade. The parkers that I've been hearing from aren't reporting problems with the readers at the fare gates, just at the lot and garage exits.

By Robert Thomson  | August 11, 2010; 12:10 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: MARC trains will be shorter
Next: Heat restrictions for VRE trains


I have had problems with the parking lot at Branch Avenue. On random days, it was charging $4.50 to park instead of the normal $4.25. I contacted SmartTrip and received a refund.

On some days, the target does not work at all or it must be tapped a few times before the gate opens.

As for the parking lot attendant...he has been non-existent for the past two weeks or so.

Posted by: PennQuakerInDC | August 11, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Similar problems at the Vienna/Fairfax South Garage (I don't park in the North). Broken readers gave way to free parking for about a week. Now one 1 reader working at each exit making back ups up 4 levels yesterday to get out! Thanks for nothing as usual metro!

Posted by: amr2 | August 11, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

@PennQuakerInDC parking is $4.50 metro wide not $4.25

Posted by: amr2 | August 11, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

@amr2 - that's not true. Some stations are $4.25, and some are $4.50. And some, like Shady Grove, are $4.75.

Posted by: dfranzen70 | August 11, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Vinny. If their money collection system is broken, then they don't get to collect any money. Parking should be free in those instances.

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe | August 11, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

The Vienna north parking garage was having an issue last night. Of course, the upper level exit has had only one working exit for over a week now, and the parking attendant was nowhere to be found in the other lane. Glad I managed to get out without too much of a problem. Had to slap my card down a couple of times before it stopped flashing 'see attendant' and accepted it.

I'm not about to climb out of my car and physically go back into the station from the parking garage. I've got a beater truck, I'll just run the gate if Metro can't fix their issues after all this time. Metro knew for how long that they were doing this? And the STILL can't get things to work right? Are we sure Metro isn't run by the DC/Federal government?

Posted by: mika_england | August 11, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I'd just like to chime in by saying that Annapolis to DC via Landover Metro sounds like an atrocious commute.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 11, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

White Flint is out too

Posted by: EBOhio | August 11, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

The whole SmartCard system, including the fare gates and fare machines, is OWNED not by Metro but by Cubic Transportation System (CTS). The people programming the system are not even in the Metro area. Any problems have to be determined by Metro employees and the findings sent to the programmers. The programmers have no direct connection to the actual hardware. They make changes to the software, sent it to Metro who install it and hope it works.

The next logical question would be why doesn't Metro get rid of CTS. It can't. CTS will not let Metro or any other contractor work on their equipment. CTS has Metro by the throat.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | August 11, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Vienna has had issues ranging from the garage Smarttips not working, or some out of order, to the actual Metro gates refusing to recognize individuals during the peak-of-the-peak. Since everyone keeps pointing its finger at Cubic Transportation System (CTS) than they should be the ones to reimburse Metro for lost fare $$...Metro should not be going after customers who expect Metro to have it together after several successive fare/price increases. It should not be forced upon customers who have to deal with the increased fares followed by poor customer service and broken promises. If the blame is not with Metro than Metro officials obviously need to reveiw their contracts and hold contractors accountable for shoddy equipment/software.

Posted by: devilsadvocate3 | August 12, 2010 7:18 AM | Report abuse

The gate readers weren't working at West Falls Church yesterday evening, and the attendants were trying to funnel everyone out one set of gates, which had everything backed up very badly through the surface lot and back into the parking garage. Fortunately, they'd left the other set of gates open, so it was possible to use the other exit to escape the giant mess the attendants managed to create. If Metro's going to keep raising rates, they need to start paying some halfway competent contractors to actually DO something when there's a problem.

Posted by: hannnah | August 12, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps a bit off-topic, but to the unidentified rider who mentioned that her husband walked home from the Vienna station when its parking-exit line was too long... why does he drive there to begin with if it's close enough to walk to? Seems like a waste of gas, money, health, and occasionally (in circumstances like these) time.

Posted by: jeffq | August 12, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company