Monday, June 30, 2014

Idea #1: Universal Farecards

I'm constantly hearing great ideas about how to make DC a more livable, fair, and vibrant city. And of course I have a few of my own. Some are complex, other simple, most are common sense. Occasionally I'll feature one on the blog.
Idea #1: Universal Fare Cards

Either scrap the reliable, but costly and not-available-everywhere SmarTrip Card OR scrap the magnetic-strip based paper farecard. Or better, replace both with a rechargeable RFID capable paper card. It would be dispensed in all Metro farecard machines and would be universal, used by tourists and residents. And the card would be free. Riders would only need to load fare onto it.

Montreal's STM system has a similar card, the "Occasional Card." It isn't rechargeable, but holds different fares and passes. It would still be used by tapping the card on a special reader, similar to SmarTrip.

Montreal's system offers a three day pass on the Occasional Card for unlimited rides on all buses and subway lines. It's $18. WMATA's one-day unlimited, rail-only pass is $14.50. WMATA could switch to the new paper cards, potentially save money on production (vs SmarTrip), and pass the savings along to riders.