MTA seeking volunteers to test smart card
The Maryland Transit Administration is still seeking about 250 volunteers to help test its new MTA CharmCard, what it calls a “smart” fare card that it hopes will expedite the fare collection process. The MTA plans to introduce the cards in a movfe that would finally match a technology that has been familiar on the Washington Metro system for years.
The folks the MTA is looking for are full-fare cash customers who ride Metro Subway more than other MTA services and who will agree to purchase your fares during the test period from a ticket vending machine at a Metro Subway station Ticket Vending Machine. Riders on senior or disability fares and Commuter Choice Maryland voucher recipients are not eligible to participate in the initial field test. MTA spokeswoman Jawauna Greene said about 250 of the 500 volunteers originally sought have signed up.
Would-be participants can sign up electronically by clicking this link.
The test will run 60 days (Oct. 1 – Nov. 30). At the end of the test period, participants must return their cards to the MTA Transit Store at 6 St. Paul St. Volunteers will receive a free January 2010 monthly pass as a bonus.
UPDATE: In response to a reader's question, no, the CharmCard will not be interoperable with Washington Metro trains and buses during the beta test. But the two systems' cards are expected to be compatible once CharmCard (hate that name) is in full operation.
By the way, this test does mean the MTA is pushing back full introduction of the card its earlier goal of October to the beginning of the year, Greene acknowledged. Better they get it right, I suppose.