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Posted at 12:08 PM ET, 12/30/2010

Metro seeks SmarTrip replacement

By Ann Scott Tyson

Metro moved ahead on tyson.gifThursday with a plan to develop a new electronic fare payment system that will allow customers to use chip-enabled credit and debit cards, federal ID cards, smart phones and other methods to pay their fares.

Metro issued a request for proposals to find a vendor in 2011 to create the new system, which will include new gate hardware on the rail system and fare payment devices on buses.

The current SmarTrip system, which started nearly 12 years ago and now has 1.8 million cards in use, will stay in operation until the new system is up and running. The new system will also allow for the use of SmarTrip cards.

Metro has only a limited supply of SmarTrip cards, estimated to last two years, and the cards are no longer being manufactured. In the fall, Metro had to abandon a plan to cut the price of the cards out of concern it could lead customers to purchase large numbers of them and increase the possibility Metro would run out.

By Ann Scott Tyson  | December 30, 2010; 12:08 PM ET
Categories:  Metro, Metrobus  
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Comments

The escalators are broken, the railcars and stations filthy, gangs of teenage thugs roam the system at will, and the employees are surly at best. But, by God, we'll keep terrorists off our system! (Random bag checks by the Metro cops), and we'll have the best electronic system for collecting exhorbitant fares anywhere!(see above article) WE ARE KING METRO!! Out motto: "If you don't like it, then walk!"

Posted by: dstreet208 | December 30, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and to pay for this whiz-bang replacement for the SmartTrip card, we're doubling the fares ... "Have a nice day, and thank you riding Metro!"

Posted by: dstreet208 | December 30, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Well done dstreet!!!

Posted by: cmann083@yahoo.com | December 30, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Metro needs to start thinking about the EZ Pass model where the technology is compatible across geographic areas. How about teaming up with NY, Philadelphia and Chicago to adopt a technology that is compatible for all systems? This creates purchase power and maintains demand that would benefit all the transportation systems and the users.

Posted by: Spec128 | December 30, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm not in charge, but if I was, I would worry less about how fares are collected and more about how I was going to improve or replace the decaying Metro equipment that presently exists.
Metro raised fares over the past year, raising the expectations of people (including me) that service would get better. I needn't have worried, service has gone in the trash can. Trains are stopped and passengers dumped at some stations (including the Cemetery) without explanation, and people are told to find alternate means of transportation.
Metro ..... you folks need an attitude check. Your believability is almost nil. You are constantly telling your customer base that things will get better, but they don't. That's probably why more people are driving to work in DC than ever before.
Metro only has itself to blame.
Metro has managed to create (for itself) a money-sucking bureaucracy that does little for assisting those who use its services.
Perhaps service and point of view will improve next year. To all employees of Metro who go the extra mile to assist users of Metro without compliments, I tip my hat to you. You are what this system should be all about.
Have a great New Year!

Posted by: sdbrownffx | December 30, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Some months ago there was an article in WaPo that Baltimore was looking at a fare system and cards that would be compatible with Metro's. Is anyone paying attention to that?

Posted by: busgirl1 | December 30, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I have rode Metro for several years. Maybe I'm on a different Metro than the whiners. I think there service is very good. Yes, the escalators are a problem and sometimes the stations need some cleaning, but for God's sake, I don't spend much time in or on Metro. Some of you people need to pull your heads out of your butts, give it a good shake, and get a life. Aren't there more important things in your life to be concerned about.
Stop whining. A lot of us are sick and tired of hearing it.

Posted by: jonblackman57 | December 30, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I've ridden metro systems across the nation and this one is, by far, the cleanest and easiest to maneuver around, and, believe it or not, the safest.

They do have MAJOR maintenance issues and should focus on that, as it is part and parcel to operational safety.

When I can go from point A to point B without a failing escelator or elevator, then is the time to start talking about better ways to collect money.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | December 30, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

GREAT comment by Spec128. How about it, Metro?

Metro needs to start thinking about the EZ Pass model where the technology is compatible across geographic areas. How about teaming up with NY, Philadelphia and Chicago to adopt a technology that is compatible for all systems? This creates purchase power and maintains demand that would benefit all the transportation systems and the users.

Posted by: Spec128 | December 30, 2010 12:50 PM

Posted by: Aerowaz | December 30, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

How long until cash is phased out? All in the name of security, of course.

Posted by: yell53 | December 30, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Um, they just raised fares because they said they need the money for maintaining what we've got. They have accidents, delays, weathering issues, and broken escalators. Why are they spending money on this? It just shows how skewed their priorities are. No wonder why so many people drive to work. I hope they get some new decision makers in there.

Posted by: dcombs001 | December 30, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Um, they just raised fares because they said they need the money for maintaining what we've got. They have accidents, delays, weathering issues, and broken escalators. Why are they spending money on this? It just shows how skewed their priorities are. No wonder why so many people drive to work. I hope they get some new decision makers in there.

Posted by: dcombs001 | December 30, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Only in DC could a future IMPROVEMENT be so whined and moaned about. jonblackman57 has it perfectly correct. I'd add that it's always best to consider the OVERALL experience (with Metro or whatever else in life you experience) before committing pen to paper or keyboard to website and polluting spaces like this with childish rants. Happy New Year!

Posted by: PLUNDGREN001 | December 30, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

METRO GOT BACK THOSE IPADS THATS WAS GIVEN AS PERSONAL GIFTS

Posted by: JeroRobson1 | December 30, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

This is great news, especially if they're contemplating a phone-based system. I'd much prefer to wave my phone past a scanner that charges a credit card than deal with having to carry a SmarTrip card.

All the transportation stuff -- Metro, buses, MARC, meters, etc. -- should have app/phone-based (and harmonized) options. We're in the second decade of the 21st century -- go with future tech!

Posted by: Kalnel | December 30, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

SmarTrip cards may no longer be made, but the MTA just launched their CharmCard is it's interchangable with SmarTrip.

Posted by: probaltimore | December 31, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Metro, Please! spare us the nonsense. So this is your way of making us spend more money for what?

Posted by: menselle | December 31, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Saying the cards are no longer manufactured is intentionally misleading. The same company that makes the SmartTrip cards is continuing to makes electronic cards just a newer model. There is no imminent crisis, Metro is just looking to save money by not distributing cards anymore.

Posted by: buffysummers | December 31, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

What happens to a person that doesn't have a credit card and can no longer get a smart trip card? Like the elderly or a young teenager, ect.

Posted by: zippergyrl1 | January 3, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

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