A bit more on Metro's credit card at faregate program

I've received a bit more information about Metro's new initiative to accept credit cards at the faregates. From Metro:
The Open Payment procurement in the news is for a contactless credit card used at a reader or target, much like you see at Best Buy or CVS. There will be no association with Smartrip. Any contactless credit card should work, hence Open Payment. You can check to see if you have such a card by the “radio wave” logo, PayPass for Mastercard, Express Pay for AMEX, or PayWave for Visa somewhere on the card. It has not been determined if we will have a new reader, two readers, or use the existing Smartrip reader, which can be modified to read credit cards.
As I noted yesterday, this is the same RFID technology used in some point-of-sale devices. The technology is not widespread, however, and I'm unclear on why Metro feels this is worth exploring. Especially given the fact that Metro isn't sure if this will require new equipment or not. Also of note, this would be the first time people could ride without any farecard or proof of having paid a fare. Not that we have random "show me your farecard" inspections, but it would be trickier. The technology would also need to store some sort of unique identifier about the rider, in order to calculate the fare charge. This seems like a lot of work to provide a service to a very small number of people.

Also, check out that cool Citibank Mastercard with the Smartrip logo. A reader was kind enough to send this in. This had been a pilot program between Metro and Citibank, with a Smartrip RFID chip built into a Citibank credit card. There was no link between the Smartrip and the credit card, though, you'd still need to waive it at a fare machine to add value.

According to the reader who submitted this, the Citibank program had been discontinued and the account was closed. The letter from Citibank said the Smartrip portion of the card could be used until the balance was depleted. Metro says the program was ended by Citibank.

It would have been very cool if the Citibank program had linked the credit card to the Smartrip portion, but that feature is still a ways off.


  1. This idea still sucks bleepity bleep. You're right, a very small percentage of the population will benefit. Let me know which cards are part of this program so I know not to sign up. I'll keep the Smartrip, thank you very much. None of this double dedeuction because people can't be expected to remember not to have their Smartrip and other cards in the same place when going through the gates.

    On a more serious note, condolences to the family and friends of the workers who lost their lives today.

  2. So if I have my SmartTrip in the same wallet as one of the cards with an RFID I get charged twice? Sounds like a good way to fill the budget gap for Metro.

  3. I should be able to have my SmarTrip be linked to a credit card, and have it automatically recharged once it goes negative. Starbucks can do it with their cards, so why not Metro with SmarTrip?

  4. What a waste of resources. Metro has countless safety issues and problems with escalators and elevators breaking down all the time, and this is what they're spending their time and money on? That serves a marginal population of riders who probably already use Smartrip cards and SmartBenefits and won't use the new technology anyway. Give me a break!

  5. A friend of mine just emailed me one of your articles from a while back. I read that one a few more. Really enjoy your blog. Thanks