>Candace Smith of WMATA’s Office of Media Relations got back to me with the answers to some of the SmarTrip questions asked here and on Greater Greater Washington.
WMATA’s general statement about SmarTrip development:
Right now, the Authority’s [WMATA] top SmarTrip priorities are to deliver SmarTrip improvements, which include acceptance of rail and bus passes; the ability to add money on the cards in sales outlets, and the ability to automatically add money to the cards if they dip below a certain limit, like an EZ pass. Metro cardholders will be able to add money to their cards at area commuter stores, bus garages that have sales offices, and a select number of Giant stores beginning this fall. The other features are expected to be available by 2010. Metro is currently renegotiating contracts with its SmarTrip contractors. The office has also recently been reorganized and given additional resources to speed up implementation of SmarTrip benefits. Metro will alert customers to SmarTrip benefits through its website, advertising, news releases, sales offices and other community outreach efforts.
Other questions answered by WMATA:
Will SmarTrip be integrated with the DC driver’s license? Who’s in charge of that project?
DC is leading the effort of integrating SmarTrip technology with driver’s licenses.
Could Smartrip be programmed to allow customers to exit from the same station they entered for free (for example, if significant delays are encountered)?
Metro has a policy where if there is a major delay customers will not be charged if they exit the same rail system they entered during the delay.
Will there be a paper SmarTrip or a low-cost disposable card?
Metro is currently researching disposable SmarTrip cards.
WMATA had discussed in the past the “Fair Fare” system, where daily usage would be capped at the day pass rate. Is this an option?
We currently have no plans for “Fair Fare”.
Is there a way to submit a request for a replacement card online?
We hope to eventually have the option to get a replacement card online.
Will customers need to replace their SmarTrip cards for feature upgrades?
Customers do not need to replace their cards for future upgrades.
The questions about other agencies accepting SmarTrip, such as Maryland’s MTA, DC Smartbike and Zipcar were directed at the other agency. Apparently accepting SmarTrip at those agencies is not really something WMATA gets involved in. According to WMATA, “The regional SmarTrip effort allows each entity to determine its own fare policy”.
WMATA didn’t offer any answer for questions involving other SmarTrip form factors like keychains, and didn’t comment on whether users could modify SmarTrip cards by disassembling them and incorporating them into other objects like clothing.
WMATA didn’t answer questions regarding adding value online, transfers from bus to rail, integrating the SmarTrip and EZ pass accounts, any upcoming changes to the fare structure based on implementing passes, or any ridership loss or gain associated with implementing new SmarTrip features.
Thanks to WMATA’s Office of Media Relations for getting back to me on my questions.