Monday, July 26, 2004

COMMUTING: More SmarTrip Confusion

It seems that some WMATA bus drivers didn't get the memo. Or maybe they read it, ignored it, or simply forgot it. Maybe there wasn't a memo in the first place ...

This weekend, a bus driver on a Route 30 run told me that I wasn't eligible for a paper bus transfer because my SmarTrip card would automatically recognize that I was within the two-hour free transfer window.

When I asked if my card would automatically do a bus-to-subway transfer (like SmarTrip is supposed to do eventually), the driver had no idea what I was talking about.

A few hours later, I rode a Route 90 bus and asked whether SmarTrip would recognize a bus-to-bus transfer. The driver had no idea what I was talking about, told me to pass my card over the sensor and then gave me a full paper transfer for the rest of the day.

So in the meantime bus riders, keep on asking for paper transfers. And if the automatic transfers do indeed work, dig the $1.25 out of your pocket and ask for a paper transfer if you want to have a longer transfer (as bus drivers will often rip off transfers for more longer than the two-hour transfer window).

To learn what SmarTrip is supposed to do, read the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's information page. But just remember, WMATA is running out of SmarTrip cards, so if you want one, you'll just have to wait until September when the transit agency is supposed to have enough for general sale.


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