Best Transit Change
Published: September 21, 2011
We’re not saying the MTA’s new rechargeable “smartfare” card is perfect. In fact, for something that’s supposed to streamline the transit experience, it’s fairly byzantine. You can’t add money to it online; you have to do that through a bus farebox or a ticket-vending machine. And while the card can be used on the subway, light rail, local buses, and any of the regional services in Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, you have to purchase and store a separate “pass” from each region. Confused yet? But for all its faults, the CharmCard is a step in the right direction, i.e., toward the 21st century. And it’s much faster to swipe the card than to go through the arduous process of buying a ticket every time, which makes it that much less likely we’ll just throw up our hands and jump on that approaching light rail, fare be damned.