Peak of the peak fares, malfunctions add to Metro riders' frustration

By Robert Thomson
Sunday, August 8, 2010

Malfunctions, confusion, delays -- these were the things Metro managers hoped to avoid when they began planning last winter for this summer's fare increases.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Metro is already a complicated system for newcomers and tourists to figure out. Now Metro has added this peak of the peak fare.

It makes you want to laugh at this silliness, but it just makes our commute that much more frustrating. You would think someone at Metro would have figured out ahead of time that the SmarTrip cards would take longer to register the peak of the peak fare.

Try figuring out the instructions that are provided to the riders at the various stations. So sad that Metro has fallen so far so fast. Driving is looking better every day. Don't even get me started on the escalator situation.

-- Frank Gainer, The District

Last week, as Metro began Phase 2 of the fare increases, riders reported malfunctioning gates at several stations, confusion over the new signs at the vending machines and kiosks, and systemwide delays getting through the gates.

There were also problems for riders after the first round of increases June 27, but they were not as widespread because those increases were more traditional: Fares went up based on boarding time and distance traveled.

Planners knew this second round would be a lot more complicated because Metro was introducing new styles of fares: a surcharge for riding at the peak of the peak and a surcharge for using a paper Farecard.

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