MTA seeks volunteers to test new 'smart' card
The Maryland Transit Administration is seeking volunteers to help test its planned "smart" electronic fare card, which is now scheduled to roll out this fall.
The new card will allow passengers to pay the exact amount of their fare out of pre-established accounts by tapping the card against a sensor or the gate or farebox.
The test of the unfortunately named CharmCard -- aren't you all sick of this Charm City this, Charm Ciity that? -- will include local buses and the Metro subway as well as bus and rail transit services in the Washhington area.
The wallet-sized card has an implanted computer chip that stores cash value and account information -- whether the passenger is paying a daily fare or using a weekly or monthly pass. The test is expected to last through the spring, with deployment of the final software this summer and rollout in the fall.
The test, which follows a previous one that was limited to the subway, does not include the light raiil system because the MTA is still wrestling with the question of how inspectors can verify fare payment. Nor does it include MARC or Virginia Railway Express.
Riders who would like to volunteer are being asked to resister on line at www.mtacharmcard.com or to call at 1-888-762-7874.
Those who don't give a hoot about volunteering but who want to suggest a less charm-laden name for the card can simply post to this blog.