Thursday, November 1, 2012

Reprogramming Faregates: 'Not Hard at All'

Dan Stessel told the Washington Post that Metro didn't "have enough time to reprogram the fare structure to match this afternoon’s service level" on Tuesday when the system reopened. Consequently, riders were charged peak (rush hour) fares between 3 and 7 p.m. while only receiving Sunday levels of service.

I read Stessel's comment to mean Metro didn't want to charge rush hour fares, but that it just couldn't be helped.

A tipster in Metro told me they didn't think Stessel was telling the truth.

"They 'reprogram' the faregates four times every weekday, again late night Friday, again Saturday, again late night Saturday and again Sunday and Monday," they wrote in an email. "I don't know the details, but it doesn't make sense that it's some complicated thing."

So I checked with another source deeply familiar with Metro's revenue operations.

"How hard of a process is it [to change over the faregates]?" I asked.

"Not hard at all. It is done on-line from a central location," the source said.

"How long does it take?" I asked.

"Maybe 10 minutes," said the source, adding "Metro does not want to lose the money."

I emailed Stessel asking for an explanation of the process to reprogram the faregates. He did not respond.

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