On the eve of its large rate increase, Metro released statistics on fare cheaters -- those who don't pay or pay undeserved reduced fares [Metro, June 25].

Okay, even if 2,000 people "cheat" for their $3 fare, Metro loses $6,000. Not much compared with the millions generated by the rate increase.

Metro says it will devote resources to catching cheaters. Will it assign one Metro officer at a salary of at least $30,000 to save $6,000? Of course, one officer can't possibly cover the entire system, so will Metro need to divert more officers from the threat of terrorism to "save" $6,000?

Isn't it time that Metro faces its management inadequacies and stops with these silly smoke screens?

SHERRI DECK

Rockville

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I found the instructions of how Metro plans to go cashless confusing [Metro, June 25]. A SmarTrip card will be required to pay for parking (no cash or credit). But Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to midnight and on Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday, parking fees will be collected. What does this mean?

SmarTrip cards cost $5 each and have no value, but customers can put up to $200 in value on a card. Parking is generally $3.75 a day, but the card costs $5 itself. Do you have to pay to park to buy a SmarTrip card? The commuter will adjust, but I feel for the occasional user and the tourist.

I have used public transit systems in England, France, Holland and Japan, and I've found them more user-friendly than ours, even when the language is factored in.

JOHN J. WOLFF

Rockville

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I don't have a problem with the SmarTrip card per se, other than its regressive-tax effect. What bothers me is that Metro is unwilling to support SmarTrip adequately.

The stations I pass through the most have far more old-style, non-SmarTrip fare machines than SmarTrip-capable machines. The newer machines are at the ends of the row, where cash customers (especially tourists, who take longer to figure them out) gravitate toward them. This leaves SmarTrip cardholders stuck in line behind people who could be using any of the other machines. To top it off, at least one new machine at Springfield is frequently marked "No SmarTrip."

If Metro doesn't care about riders enough to buy more SmarTrip machines and keep them working, how about making the SmarTrip machines it has "no cash," like the parking lots?

STEVE WHEELOCK

Springfield