Why Washington Metro...

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by iGary, May 15, 2006.

  1. iGary Guest

    iGary

    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Location:
    Randy's House
    #1
    SUCKS:

    So this afternoon, an un-named MR member and I decide to get together for a late lunch in Washington DC. I needed a break from the office and a chance to get out of the house, so today seemed like a perfect time.

    I pulled up to the METRO station in New Carollton, where I have been boarding the train into Washington for oh, say 28 years now. I park my car in the lot, get my farecard for the exact to and from fare and off I went. I would normally drive, but decided I didn't want to look for parking and coordinate the meet up with said MR member.

    On the way back to the station after eating, my dinner company informs me that I will need one of METRO's SmartTrip™ cards to get my card out of the lot. I confidently tell him that there were no signs to that effect and that I had parked my car in that lot for years.

    So I get back to New Carollton on my puke-stained and aroma-de-pee scented train, and the turnstyle will not accept my farecard when I try to exit the station. I go to the station manager, who is more than a little annoyed by my mere existence and he takes my card and tells me to go through. I tell him that the card still has value on it (I wasn't expecting to be coming back on off-peak), so he acts as if I am asking him to lay in front of a train to give me a one-dollar refund.

    I get out to my car, tuck my PowerBook in. buckle her up and head for the parking lot exit. I am promptly greeted by a litlle magnetic thing that I have to wave a SmartCard (which I will herein refer to as TardCard™) at to get out, so I back up my car, park it, and go to the station to buy a TardCard™. The little machine says $10.00 TardCard™ so I put my Visa in and it spits out this little credit card thingy with a microchip in it. Maximum parking fee for the day is $7.50, so I figure I'll be fine with $10.00.

    I get in the car again, pulll up to the magnetic thingy and it says "Negative Balance - Exit Denied." very confused by this, I go back to the station and ask the "I can't be bothered" station manager what to do. He says - "Oh yeah - see you have to buy the TardCard™ for $5.00, and that leaves $5.00 to get out of the lot with. The lot costs $7.50, so you need $2,50 on there.

    I pointed to a sign that said the parking was $3.50, and he said, oh, that's only if you pay for your fare on the train with the TardCard™ - since you paid for your train fare with a normal card, you have to pay the full $7.50 rate.

    So as I drove home, I pondered the recent rise in energy prices and my small effort to do my part and take public transportation. I paid $4.75 to get to and from central DC, and should have paid $3.50 to park my car.

    Instead, I had to pay $4.75 for my fare, $5.00 for a microchip card the government can now track my movements with and I will most likely never use in the next year and a premium of $7.50 to park my car in a lot that hod NO signage that said "Use of this lot requires TardCard™ purchase.

    Total trip cost: $17.25. next time I'll burn fossil fuel, pollute the air, use precious government road resources and take up space in an already congested city, thanks.

    DC has got to be the most retarded city on Earth. So glad we moved.
     
  2. iGary thread starter Guest

    iGary

    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Location:
    Randy's House
    #2
    I get home and Rob said, oh yeah, people have been yelling about that for two months now...
     
  3. Shamus macrumors 6502a

    Shamus

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2006
    #3
    Woah, you certainly had a rough time of it, for something that should be a simple system. I can understand you annoyance. I guess this proves as another reason for me to never visit Washington DC.
     
  4. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #4
    Awww, babe, I'm sorry. :(

    I love reading iGary stories....

    :eek:
     
  5. iGary thread starter Guest

    iGary

    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Location:
    Randy's House
    #5
    I couldn't wait to get home and post this because I knew it would make a perfect story. :p
     
  6. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #6
    Wow - I'm so glad I live in CA. :D


    You really enjoy using that TM symbol don't you, iGary? :p

    Your stories are the best.
     
  7. adk macrumors 68000

    adk

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Location:
    Stuck in the middle with you
    #7
    That sounds like a huge PITA. Is the TardCard™ a new thing? Every time I've been to DC (last time was summer 2004) I've loved the metro. So easy to get to from Reagan Airport, and the stations are so much nicer than the ones in NYC.
     
  8. iGary thread starter Guest

    iGary

    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Location:
    Randy's House
    #8
    The Metro is OK for getting in and around town...this SmartCard thing is totally gay - why should I have to invest $5.00 in a card to get a decent parking rate - and why don't they have a god-damned sign righ as you get ready to enter the lot? I wouldnt' have parked there if I was informed...

    Stupid fracking DC government.
     
  9. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #9
    Hey as the "unnamed" MR member, let me say that I did not warn you of the $5 cost for the METRO's SmartTrip™ card. :eek: I was hoping against hope for you though. They have a sign in the Vienna Station that clearly states this. I will post a pick if I get back there in the next few days.

    Just to let you know that this issue was talked about this past Sunday in the Dr. Gridlock column in the Washington Post. METRO claims that they make nothing off of the $5 fee for the card. According to the column, METRO is looking at people like yourself that do not take METRO on a regular basis, and trying to come up with a solution.

    When I purchased my TardCard™, the machine I used clearly stated that there was a $5 fee for the card.

    As a back story as to why they went to the SmartTrip™ card for the parking lots. A couple years back it was found that parking lot attendants were skimming the cash from the till. So they decided to get rid of people handling cash, and went to the new system. Instead of requiring the subcontractors to make sure METRO got's its fair share of parking revenue (a simple "wheel" count verses the cash collected would have done the job). There was also an additional revenue stream that METRO gained in getting parking fees from those that left the lots after 8PM or 9PM - forgot when the staff left for the day.

    I agree that I don't like my travel tracked. But I gave up on that after the hijackings in the '80's IIRC - when I had to produce a picture ID. And who is to say that license plate ID technology is not used at METRO lots as we come or go, or facial ID recognition technology as we enter the station itself?

    I will give my rant on the TardCard™ now. The TardCard™ is good on at least METRO Bus/Rail and Parking. What I hate is that to ride the Fairfax Cue Bus, I need to have change in my pocket. Found out the hard way on my trip to Iceland and London in February. A fellow passenger took pity on me and gave me the 50 cents I needed for the trip.

    I agree that more needs to be done to get people out of our cars. My fare for the evening ran $6.05 for METRO Rail and 50 cents for the Cue Bus to Metro and $6 for a cab ride home (with tip) - a total of $12.55 (I already have the TardCard™). At about 20mpg city driving my car gets about 20mpg. So the RT might have cost me about $6 in gas. We have have paid $10 in parking each. So I am already ahead, and I was able to read the Blade and my magazines on my trip in and out. I could have saved about $5.50 if I could have timed our departure in order to meet trains and the Cue Bus. Slim chance on that. :eek:

    My leaving the Fairfax/Vienna area would have meant a slow go with "reverse" rush hour traffic on I-66. Hassles of rush hour city traffice. The $12.25 you actually spent (never mind the TardCard™ cost) is probably less than what the cost in time and frustration would be.

    Shame is that you and I would have never been able to stay out past mid-night on a week night, even if we had wanted too. The general closing time of METRO is mid-night during the weekdays.

    But that does not matter. You are a case in point that mass transit needs to be much more affordable and easy to get people out of their cars. If we were to use the IRS max of 48.5 cents per a mile (IIRC this figure is based on gas, maintenance, insurance, and depreciation) my trip cost by car would have been $19.40 + $10 perhaps for parking. The fallacy in using this figure from the IRS, the cost of insurance and depreciation are "fixed costs" - I have to pay these whether I drive my car or not. So I like many others look only at gas costs and parking costs. I also factor my "frustration" costs of traffic.

    So, "Other than that Mrs. Lincoln; how did you enjoy the play"? :)
     
  10. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor

    WildCowboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    #10
    Don't you mean "ghey?"

    Seems like a completely screwed-up system. I've enjoyed the Metro every time I've been to DC...it's a shame they can't make things sensible.

    Makes me appreciate BART...I got home from the Oakland airport Saturday night for $5.80 (I think) one-way. A cab would have run me >$50 each way, and gas alone had I driven would have been $5 each way plus whatever the parking would have been for the four days I was gone.
     
  11. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #11
    Actually IIRC the TardCard™ has been available for Bus and Rail riders for a while. My post above about parking revenue being stolen, opened up the TardCard™ to new uses.

    There are a couple of advantages to the TardCard™. First is that you can register your card if you keep a high balance on the card. So if lost or stolen, for $5 fee it will replaced. The second is that the card is used by employers in teh region to offset a copmpanies contribution (for tax credit) to get people out of their cars to pay for Bus/Rail/Parking on the METRO system. As I pointed out above it fails that test in requiring me to pay cash for the Fairfax Cue Bus. Even though the Cue Bus is listed when planning a trip on the METRO website. :confused:

    The trip into the city from National Airport (I and many locals do not know what you mean by "Reagan Airport") is easy enough. Try doing the same from Dulles or BWI. My last trip to NYC, I was impressed by the improvements in lower Manhattan and mid-town Manhattan.
     
  12. livingfortoday macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Location:
    The Msp
    #12
    That all sounds awful. It makes me really appreciate the Chicago transit system. So far, the CTA is the best public transportation network I've seen in a US city, especially now that I have a ChicagoCard Plus.
     
  13. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #13
    Actually stupid fracking regional transit authority.

    Did you know that at least in the 1980's over 50% of the METRO transit budget was for setting up fares and collection of those fares? That at the time going to a free fare system would have cost the local governments less. This came from the spokesperson at the time (COdy Fanstille, IIRC his name right).
     
  14. exeterbohemian macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    Location:
    brooklyn
    #14
    oh god the d.c. metro...

    being at georgetown, i'm quite familiar with the public transportation in our nation's capitol.

    that said, i was riding back to dupont from a nine inch nails show at the mci center this past november with a friend of mine. and since i didn't have any cash, i figured i'd just use my credit card to get a ticket. bad idea... the machine ate my card, and the station manager didn't have the key to open the machine. so i had to leave it there. fortunately, they gave my friend and i free ride passes. but i never got my card back. in spite of them saying that they'd hold it for me at the station. bastards. :mad:
     
  15. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #15
    I agree, I was in Chicago back around the 14th thru 17 of October. Like SF (except for BART), I found it easy to get around. That was till I went to London in February. In London at every Underground Station I went to there were maps and guides to help me find a bus to get on to my destination. We are just now ready to test the idea here in DC. :eek:
     
  16. QCassidy352 macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #16
    well, as a DC transplant who has lived in philly and boston, I have to say that the Metro is one of my favorite things about this city. I've never had to park at a metro station, so I haven't had that experience, but IMO the Metro is clean, fast, efficient, and reliable. If you don't think so, try the Boston T sometime...
     
  17. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #17
    I think it depends on how you define "METRO". If you are talking about the Rail portion, it is hard to beat at least by some measures of other US systems. If the Rail goes where you want it to, then great. But need to switch to the bus system it starts to degrade rapidly IMO. It also depends on what Rail and Bus lines you are on.

    Last week I was on a Blue line train (Largo bound), and two individuals were talking about one of their court cases. Passenger A said that he was facing 45 years. Passenger B said that Passenger A could be out in 15 years. :eek: :eek:

    Haven't been to Philly or Boston in almost 20 years, so I can't comment on their current state. But I will say again that I was totally impressed with the London Underground. I did the Blue line from LHR to Hammersmith. The Green line from Hammersmith to Westminster. As well as the Black and Brown lines. They were much cleaner, and I felt safer than I have on some of my METRO trips.
     
  18. vniow macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    I accidentally my whole location.
    #18
    Same here, BART is awesome. The park and ride lot near my house has the most idiotic times on it but otherwise I haven't had a problem with it and its damned simple. I got a MUNI fast pass a few weeks ago that works on all the transit in the city, buses, trains, cable cars and even BART for $45 a month and so far it hasn't been a hassle and the most I've driven my car since that time was a trip down to SC a couple of Fridays ago. Otherwise its only driven to move it to the other side of the street for sweeping.

    I'm loving this not-driving thing, my car is a gas hog anyway and I get to see things I otherwise wouldn't.
     
  19. iTwitch macrumors 6502a

    iTwitch

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2006
    Location:
    East of the Mississippi
    #19
    That no parking sign was great.
     
  20. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #20
    You know, it all fits now. Al these hardware failures are for a reason iGary. Clearly you were meant to take your effed up Power Mac to the lunch with you. Then you could have dropped it on the toe of the station manager, picked it up, and then hurled it at the TardCard magnetic thingo. Three problems solved at once. :cool:
     
  21. bartelby macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    #21
    iGary, I'm beginning to think you're the unluckiest person on the planet!
    You must have been really evil in a previous life!
     
  22. iGav macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2002
    #22
    I'm betting he's been a really bad, bad boy in this one. heheh. :D
     
  23. iGary thread starter Guest

    iGary

    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Location:
    Randy's House
    #23
    My biggest gripe was that there was a total lack of signage.

    If the parking lot would have had a simple, large sign that said "Use of This Lot Requires TardCard™ Purchase," I would have parked across the street for $3.00.

    Additionally, why should someone like me, who rarely uses the system, be punished and bascially forced into buying this stupid card to park my car, and on top of that, since I did not use this card for travel, I get raped on the parking charge? I mean the only thing there in New Carollton is a couple of office buildings - abou a mile away - why would I park my car there to "take advantage" of METRO - what are the trying to discourage?

    It's just fracking stupid, and believe me, I'll do what I usually do the next time (Wednesday) I go into DC - use my car and rape the planet.

    The play was awesome, Chip. :D
     
  24. gwuMACaddict macrumors 68040

    gwuMACaddict

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Location:
    washington dc
    #24
    Have to diasagree...

    Sorry to hear about the frustration, but...

    I love the DC Metro system... It's much cleaner than most cities, goes more places, cheap, easy to use...

    I understand the frustration with the SmarTrip Card, but it's been advertised for a long while now that you need a card to exit the parking lots. Maybe that individual station didn't have well-posted signs, which I agree is annoying, but it's been Metro policy to require a SmarTrip for a while.

    Also, the SmarTrip card makes a lot more sense to me, I used to despise carrying around the little slips of paper with my fares on them. Just like the Oyster Card in London, I love my SmarTrip Card.
     
  25. iGary thread starter Guest

    iGary

    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Location:
    Randy's House
    #25
    I generally like it, too - I lived in the city for three years and used it all the time. I had a bad night - dirty train, swarthy employees...

    Problem is I do not watch TV, or read the Washington Post much...I double checked when I left and there just were no signs. For the benefit of others, I'm writing a letter to Metro about New Carolton's specific lack of signage. Combining tha SmarTrip and parking is just freaking stupid - retarded really. You can buy a fare card with a Visa, buy a SmarTrip card with one, but you can't get out of a parking lot wihtout one? Sorry, that's just insane. I had another guy right behind me in the station trying to get out, too, by the way. And then they punish me by charging me the highest rate for parking - really dumb, fellas.

    Agreed - and I even told Chip that when and if I start doing some more Washington business, I'd proabbly buy one, but I'm such an infrequent rider that it's just another card in my wallet...

    Metro is pretty good, but San Fran, NYC and London beat our system all to hell.
     

Share This Page