Metro outlines upcoming SmarTrip card changes
The IRS has granted Metro the one-year extension it was seeking for that complex new version of the SmartBenefits program. The schedule originally called for the changes to occur Jan. 1. After users of the transit benefits and the employers who have to implement the changes expressed their utter confusion with what was required of them, Metro asked IRS for the delay.
That SmartBenefits system will not change until January 2011, Metro now says.
Meanwhile, Metro is planning for some upgrades in the SmarTrip electronic fare card system. The first thing that's happening is an upgrade to the electronics.
These are a few of the key changes that could affect how you use your card:
-- First of all, you can now add value to your SmarTrip card at 223 retail locations. That's especially good for bus riders who don't normally get near Metrorail stations. They can go to one of these retail locations and add value, rather than having to do it at a bus fare box.
-- Late spring: That's when Metro will start to phase in a self-service Web site feature in which you can add value to the card -- or add transit passes to the card -- without going to a vending machine or a bus fare box. One key in the preparations is to make sure that the transactions are safe for the users.
-- Summer: That's when Metro will be phasing in an auto load system allowing riders to automatically add value or renew passes at fare gates, fare boxes or parking facilities.This would be done using transit benefits, credit cards or debit cards.
-- Metro is working on incorporating the passes offered by regional transit agencies into this system. One issue that has to be resolved is how the revenue collected would be distributed among the regional agencies.
December 17, 2009; 10:46 AM ET
Categories: Metro | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, SmarTrip, SmartBenefits
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