Metro Goghs With a New SmarTrip Design

Van Gogh SmarTripThe Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has recently released limited-edition Vincent Van Gogh Commemorative Metro SmarTrip cards!

The Commemorative Card was released in partnership with The Phillips Collection to celebrate their special Van Gogh Repetitions exhibit, running until January 2014. The new batch of nifty SmarTrip Cards (which you can buy for only $10) feature four famous Van Gogh images: “The Bedroom at Arles”, “The Road Menders”, “Madame Roulin Rocking the Cradle”, and “The Postman Joseph Roulin”.VANGOGHcards

The collaborative release isn’t the only exciting endeavor that Metro D.C. has been up to; recently, it has unveiled several new SmarTrip changes to make usage quicker and more efficient. These include “Auto Reload” features that automatically add cash every time Card balances drop below $10, a lowered price of $2 per Card and new SmarTrip dispensers in Metro locations.

Both Metro D.C. and The Phillips Collection are pleased with the Van Gogh collaboration. According to Lynn Bowersox, Metro assistant general manager for customer service, communications and marketing, “The Phillips Collection is one of the great destinations that is convenient for Metro riders and we are proud to share this wonderful artwork with our customers.”

What do you think of the new SmarTrip Cards? Plan on taking a trip to Dupont Circle to check out the Phillips Collection Exhibit? Weirded out that Van Gogh chopped off his own ear? Hit us up in the comments below.

Photos: WMATA, Wikipedia, Fairfax County

SmarTrip: One Less Problem to Worry About

What’s the most inconvenient thing about public transportation? If you’re a resident of Washington, D.C. or a student at Georgetown, one thing comes to mind. There’s nothing like that blissful feeling of rushing to the metro only to find a negative balance on your SmarTrip card after swiping it a thousand times. Wonderful.

But there’s some good news! Since a test run with over 1,300 riders, the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) has released a new plan where riders can now connect their credit or debit card information to SmarTrip cards with the option to refill the balance automatically! One less thing I have to worry about! The goal behind the plan is to encourage the use of the plastic, reusable cards rather than the paper fare tickets.

Even better, the original plan arranged for having a minimum of twenty dollars on the card, but now riders can set their own minimum balance. If that’s not making you jump with joy, then you should know that the original plan would originally take a couple of business days to transfer the money, but now it’s up and ready from the moment you sign up. All in all, it’s safe to say that your metro experience might be slightly less painful because of the newly implemented policies. Happy riding!

Now if they could just get automatic toilet paper replacement in bathrooms…

Metro+ Changes: Coming Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Metro riders are about to see the culmination of a project more than a year in the making that aims to improve rush hour service across the Metrorail system. Rush+, as WMATA has termed it, will add trains in overcrowded segments of the Metro system to alleviate crowding, especially on the Orange Line from Downtown D.C. to Northern Virginia through Rosslyn.

To help riders with the upcoming changes, WMATA has put together a handy-dandy website with a clickable Metro map to discuss the upcoming changes to the system. The changes include:

  • Three additional Orange Line trains in each direction during rush hour, but each of the new trains will run between Vienna and Largo Town Center, not New Carrollton (as most Orange Line trains do).
  • Three fewer Blue Line trains in each direction during rush hour, but the three lost trains will be rerouted onto the Yellow Line, so riders from Pentagon south won’t see any decrease in service. Also, keep in mind the three additional Orange Line trains running to Largo. In all, only one station will see a decrease in service — Arlington Cemetery.
  • Three additional Yellow Line trains in each direction during rush hout, but those trains will run from Franconia-Springfield (replacing lost Blue Line service) to Greenbelt.

All in all, Orange Line stations in Northern Virginia and Green/Yellow Line stations in D.C. will see increased rush hour service. Only Arlington Cemetery station will see decreased service, and all other stations retain their normal service during rush hour (including Dupont and Rosslyn).

For Georgetown students, whose stations won’t see any new service, the biggest change to the Metro system will be with updated signage and snazzy new Metro maps (which are already installed in the trains).

Metro Thief Caught on Tape

For those of you with iPads and/or iPhones, you might want to think twice next time you pull them out the next time you’re on the Metro (unless you’re Daniel Wenger).  Two weeks ago, Wenger, who had just placed his iPad on his lap while riding the metro, had it snatched right out from underneath his fingers. He was able to follow the thief through the closing metro doors and onto the station platform, but not before breaking his arm in the closing doors.

But wait, it gets better. The thief jumped on to the opposite tracks and over the electric third rail. Luckily, someone on the opposite station platform was able to get the Ipad from the thief, and then back to Wenger. If you don’t believe, WUSA 9 news has the video to prove it. Man Tries to Recover Stolen IPad on Metro

First Taxis, Now Metro?

As if increasing cab fares in the District weren’t bad enough, there has been some talk within WMATA (no we’re not the only ones fond of acronyms), of imposing a flat fare on Metro. I’m sure those of you from other cities who are used to flat fares (New York, Boston, St. Louis) may like the idea, but it actually could end up hurting those living in the city.

To put this in perspective, lets say next year if you want to go to a basketball game and decide that cab fares are more expensive and you want to take the metro, it would cost you $1.95 to get to Metro Center from either DuPont Circle or Rosslyn during regular hours ($2.15 at the most during rush hour, but the check WMATA website to see peak hours and off peak hours fares). Using rider statistics and current rates, WMATA estimates that in order for a flat rate to be effective, the fair would have to be $2.90 for all riders, which is higher than in other cities with flat rates (it’s $2.20 in New York). This would make your trip nintey-five cents more expensive for each leg of the trip.

But if ninety-five cents doesn’t seem like that much thank about it this way. If you had gone to all the home games this year and took the metro there and back, it would have been $28.50 more expensive under the flat rate (that’s at least four pitchers at Booey’s on Half Price Wednesday), and its more likely than not that the flat rate would be more expensive.

While it would make figuring out how much to put on your smartcard or metro ticket easier, it just isn’t cost effective for those in the city. It would mean that higher fares for us who don’t have to travel as far would be subsidizing those coming from farther away, and the Metro reaches out pretty far into the more rural areas surrounding D.C. This may end up not even mattering, as its only an idea that WMATA is considering, but next time one of your friends complains about Metro prices, be thankful, because it could be worse.



What’s in a Name? Silver Line Metro Asks for Stations’ Names

With plans for the opening of the Silver Line slated for as early as next year, Metro and Fairfax County are asking for public suggestions for the proposed eight new stations.

Construction on the 23-mile line extending to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County has been been a long time coming. Work on the track began in 2008, but escalating cost and delays have set the project back. Phase I of the construction will extend 11.6 miles between Stadium-Armory and Wiehle Avenue in Reston, Va. Phase II, expected for completion in 2016, will extend service another 11.5 miles from Reston to Herndon, the airport and into Loudoun County. In total, the Silver Line will make stops at 29 stations, 11 of them new.

In order to name the eight new stations in Fairfax County and to increase awareness about the Silver Line project, WMATA has set up a survey for respondents to provide their opinion about the line’s development. The survey will be open until 5 p.m. on March 21st. Creativity is restricted to no longer than 19 characters, so let the name debate begin.

Georgetown Metro Headaches

by Martin Hussey

As if Georgetown didn’t have enough transportation problems, the main conduit for off-campus transportation, the Rosslyn metro station, will be closed for track work this weekend, according to a WMATA press release. The authority will replace trains with free buses between the closed station, but warns Orange and Blue Line riders that delays could reach 20-30 minutes through the construction zone.

Since a trip to Rosslyn from campus already can take up to 20 minutes, try alternate bus routes, particularly the 38B, 32/36, G2, D6 and Circulator.

For the all-important basketball game against South Florida at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning, special game day buses will run between Dupont Circle and the parking lot in front of McDonough, according to an e-mail sent to season ticket holders Thursday. Careful, though, the south entrance to the Dupont metro stop is also closed due to escalator repair.

According to WMATA, the station closure will allow workers to replace rail fasteners and remove sludge in the tunnel under the Potomac River. The rail closures are all part of a $5 billion project over five years to fix aging rail lines that can lead to problems like cracked rails, which have been found in recent weeks at Rosslyn and Tenleytown, causing delays to commuters.