Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Two stories, two WMATAs.
Let me preface by saying yes, I was that loser who was taking up too much space the other morning from Twinbrook to Medical center around 8:45. I was carrying three bags of cupcakes for class snacks, and I didn’t want my roses to fall.
Knowing my luck, it’s unsurprising I forgot my Smartrip at home in my winter jacket. I have learned to accept this about me, and keep THREE fare cards as back-ups in my purse, coin purse, and spring jacket pocket. So, I knew I was prepared.
I got through the gates easily at Twinbrook, considering the load I was carrying, and had mentally prepared myself for the swift movements I needed to take to make sure I didn’t slow up any of my fellow riders' commute. However, when I got to the gate at Medical Center and put my fare card in, it told me I had to go to the exit fare machines. I was 10 cents short (not because of the fare increase). Crap.
I set all my stuff down, and rummaged through my purse, coin purse, and wallet and found a $20 bill, 10 pennies, and my other two fare cards. The machine doesn’t accept $20s or pennies, so I gathered up all my stuff and went ask the station manager if I could pay her, or exit and buy another farecard. I showed her I had the money, just not the correct means to exit properly.
I had asked her for help, and she asked me, “Do you know the terms and conditions you agree to as a rider of Metro?”
Me: Yes, I’m a frequent rider, and forgot my Smartrip today, and didn’t realize I was short until too late.
Manager: That’s not what I asked you. I asked if you are familiar with the terms and conditions to agree to as a rider of Metro.
Manager: Well, obviously you are not. If you were, you would know the exit machine does not take $20s or $10s, and you would have gone over to this sign (points out the fare sign) and read how much fare you needed to ride Metro. Are you familiar with our regular and reduced rates?
Me: Yes, I’m very familiar with Metro, and how Metro works. What I’m saying is I made a mistake. Is there a way I can combine my farecards or purchase a new one with this $20?
Manager: Well, obviously you are not familiar with how Metro works because you would have had the correct fare for Metro. Now, you want to figure out a way to pay how much you’re short, because if you don’t, Metro will put out a warrant for your arrest. And you don’t want to be driving down the road, pulled over for a busted tail-light, and the police realize you have a warrant out for you for 10 cents.
What I didn’t tell her is that I don’t drive, otherwise I wouldn’t be taking Metro in the first place. Also, at this point in the conversation, an older gentleman came up, and said he had dropped is Metro card on the tracks, and he wanted to buy another one. SHE LET HIM GO!
I was 10 cents short, and was threatened with a warrant!
I just looked at her through her entire speech, and at the end, I still didn't have any means of exiting the station. So I asked, "so what do you want me to do?" She took my fare cards (My $2.00 and $1.10; my fare was $2.10) and ripped them up, and let me go through the handicap turnstile.
I feel that Metro should have a better way of accommodating its passengers--a better system for exit fares that lets riders combine multiple fare cards, etc.-- or at least train station managers with common courtesy.
I don’t think I’ll be submitting an official complaint with Metro, mainly because I was treated poorly when asking for help, I can’t imagine the treatment I’ll receive for submitting a complaint.
The other night, my SmarTrip card wouldn't work when I got on at Gallery Place around 8 p.m.
I approached the station manager kiosk, they tested my card, which wouldn't work, and said "the computer is frozen" and waived me through.
So I got off at Takoma Park around 8:30, tried to use my card again, and it didn't work. Then, I went to the station kiosk, and they didn't even test my card, they just let me through without paying.
Thinking my card was dirty or had become demagnetized, I kept trying to clean it at both stations while trying to go through the turnstile, and even tested it a few times at the farecard vending machines to see if it would register.
Finally, it did register on the machine and worked fine when I got on the bus at Takoma.
Now, all of this would not have made me think there was a bigger problem, except that there were about five other people at Takoma with the same problem, and we were all let out without paying.
The station manager didn't seem to think it was strange that suddenly five people's SmarTrip cards stopped working at the same time.
This brings me to my last point: I frequently get on the bus, and the driver lets everyone board for free, because of a broken fare machine.
I wonder how much of these free rides are contributing to Metro's financial woes? This happens on my commute at least once a week, and my bus usually carries 20 riders a trip.
And I also wonder, if someone were to intentionally demagnetize their card, how long could they ride Metro for free by being waved through by station managers?
Could be an interesting experiment ...
Red Line crash cost a lot of dimes (Examiner)
Posted by Unsuck DC Metro at 7:50 AM