MTA: Cards are good (even if drivers are clueless)
Chikwe Njoku wrote in with an inquiry about the Maryland Transit Administration's Transit Link Cards. Thanks to Terry Owens, spokesmam for the MTA, for providing a timely answer.
I have a MARC TLC Monthly that I use to travel to/from DC. It is very useful since you can also use it on Metro Bus or Metro Rail once you get to DC. Like the Metro Fare Cards they often fail.. and then become a "flash card" that you show upon entering/exiting the station.
I have also used the fare card to ride both the Light Rail and MTA Bus at certain times between Camden and Penn Stations as needed. I have noticed that both the fare inspectors and drivers are becoming increasingly perplexed by the MARC TLC Monthly. Many stare at it in amazement and one driver told me its not valid on the MTA Bus. I tried to explain to her what I thought the policy was and she said " There isn't anything about MTA Buses/Light Rail on here...." I was stunned... after I examined the card.. I realized she was correct unless the policy has changed?
The card references the MARC Train, Metro Bus, Metro Rail, but nothing about MTA Buses, Light Rail, or Metro Subway. With drivers being, hired, fired, and retired all the time.. I guess it can be hard to remember what this little card that MARC riders keep flashing is especially if it doesn't say anything, at a minimum, about the MTA.
Granted.. there is probably a warehouse somewhere with 10 million of these cards pre printed and no budgets to change them.. But maybe a simple solution, in addition to keep drivers apprised that it is still LEGAL for passage.. would be for the outlets that sell or distribute these cards simply ink stamp the MTA Logo somewhere on the back next to the Metro and MARC logos. Now that its visable.. less explanation needs to be given concerning its validity.
MTA is not alone.. occasionally when I am entering and leaving the MetroRail Station in DC.. I am stopped by a WMTA Police Officer or employee as I flash my defective MARC TLC.. They review it in amazement as if its a passport and Im at the Border trying to flee the country. I feel like I have just passed through Immigration by the time they slowly open the gate for my passage... so MTA shouldnt feel all that bad....
Here's what the MTA's Owens hhad to say about that:
The MARC Train Transit Link Card (TLC) is valid for unlimited travel during a designated month on MARC Train, DC Metrorail, DC Metrobus (base fare only) in Maryland, DC and Northern Virginia, Montgomery County RIDE ON buses, Baltimore metropolitan area Local Buses, Light Rail, Metro Subway, Neighborhood shuttles, MTA Commuter Bus 991 between Frederick, MD and Shady Grove, and Frederick County TransIT buses. Users pay an additional $102 above the monthly MARC monthly ticket fare. Thanks for bringing this issue to our attention. I will ask that an alert be sent to operators reminding them of the card and where it can be used.