Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Moving Smart Forward

Pittsburgh already has smart cars zipping through the streets, but next year, we'll have smart cards, too. Seems like the money came through after all.

Still a lot of implementation details to be worked out, so voice your opinion on how you want them implemented now. You know I did.


Paz said...

The big question- ride based like most smart cards? Or time based, like our current flash pass? You'll see a lot of any riders if they take away the discount that a monthly pass has.

illyrias said...


Full disclosure: I have no idea what the flash pass is. And I'm guessing most irregular riders don't either - who smart cards should appeal to. So there should be no problem with making it ride-based.

Why not keep monthly passes separate from smart cards? They do that in most cities, right? (I know they do in Boston and New York. What about DC?) FYI, New York can handle both time-based and ride-based cards. Theoretically there's no reason the software shouldn't be able to.

Paz said...

Flash pass is what we have now for weekly and monthly passes. You "flash" your pass at the driver and he hits a button.

See my experience in DC is that everything is fare-based (though it's a little different on the metro there since it's a different rate between any two metro stops instead of a standard rate based on zones). In DC there really isn't any advantage to having a plastic card over paper fares except for the fact that you can go one ride with a negative balance on the plastic. On the buses you save something like $.20 a ride by using the plastic instead of cash, and that might be one of the things to consider if they're trying to go paperless (I forget where I heard it, but someone in the business told me "the last dollar bill that's ever in circulation will be used on a bus fare").

Craig said...

With DC's SmarTrip you also get automatic transfers on buses and metro (and now this is the only way to do transfers there since they discontinued paper transfers). I think you can now also put your monthly pass (as well as other things like MetroChecks) onto your SmarTrip card now too.

Adam said...

I know this is incredibly pie-in-the-sky, but I would really like to see interoperability between smart card systems. By that I mean that you can take a card from one system (i.e. Metro) and use it on a system in a completely different region (i.e. PAAC). The passes wouldn't necessarily translate, but any stored value should.