Domes aim to make SmarTrip faster
Metro is installing new equipment designed to improve SmarTrip card performance at fare gates and speed the movement of customers through the rail system.
The transit authority is putting plastic domes over each of the SmarTrip card readers on every fare gate, with about 1,400 of 1,700 installed so far. The installation is expected to be completed next week, Metro spokeswoman Angela Gates said. The cost of the project is about $45,000, she said.
Metro implemented the most expansive fare increase in its history last summer, requiring its fare collection technology to handle more complex transactions. The changes meant it took longer for the circular SmarTrip targets to read the electronic fare cards and slowed down customers moving through the fare gates. The solution had been for customers to hold their cards over the targets for a beat longer than they were accustomed to.
The domes are intended to allow the antenna of the SmarTrip card reader to be better positioned to communicate with the card, Gates said. Specifically, it improves "the range at which the card will enter into communications with the target, which results in the unit's ability to read SmarTrip cards better and thus enable our customers to pass through the fare gates faster," she said.
Customer reaction to the devices was mixed, with some saying they helped, others saying they slowed down the card reading, and some not noticing the change.
"The others were flat; this one is much better," said Cheryl Johnson, as she exited from McPherson Square Station on the Orange Line Wednesday.
But Mark Elstein reacted differently. "It seemed it took a little longer than before, a couple of seconds," he said.
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