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Lost two farecards in one day!

March 28, 2007, 11:22 AM

And when it was all said and done, my performance when it came to Metro on this last DC trip was horrible. Never before have I lost two all-day passes in the same day.

Now, I’ve had farecard problems before. On two DC trips some years ago (April 12, 2003 and January 3, 2004), and one recently (September 20, 2006), my day pass got demagnetized. In those cases, I got date coded, showed the pass to the station manager at every station, and went through the employee gate. In the two cases from a few years ago, it was caused by the farecard’s living alone in an otherwise empty pocket. Therefore, it saw a bit more abuse than it should have. I switched pockets after that, and put the farecard against other things, which worked well for the most part. The other occasion, who knows what happened. It shouldn’t have demagnetized.

Then on my November 21, 2006 DC trip, I lost my day pass at Pentagon City. I think it just fell out of my pocket when I pulled something else out. I ended up having to use my SmarTrip to get back to Vienna. I think I probably lost it at Champps in that instance.

This time, I lost my day pass twice! I lost it the first time at New Carrollton. I used the pass to leave New Carrollton, and that was the last I saw of it. I went to reenter the Metro at New Carrollton, and the pass was nowhere to be found. I even went back over to where I was earlier to look around a bit, since passes don’t just disappear into thin air, after all. But it was gone. So I ultimately just got a new day pass and was done with it. So the first day pass saw two official “rides”: Vienna to Rosslyn, and Rosslyn to New Carrollton. I rode four different trains during that time, but Metro only logs your entry and exit points, therefore the fact that I took a Blue Line train from Rosslyn to Stadium-Armory and then an Orange Line train from there to Cheverly (where we were offloaded), and another Orange to New Carrollton, doesn’t play into the equation.

Then I lost the second pass after making four “rides”: New Carrollton to Fort Totten, Fort Totten to Mt. Vernon Square, Mt. Vernon Square to King Street, and King Street to Pentagon City (though I actually rode five trains). I lost it at Pentagon City, likely somewhere in the mall. It must have been early in my time at Pentagon City that I lost it, because I realized it was missing at Starbucks at Pentagon Row, where I got my newspaper. As I currently run most of my DC trips, Pentagon City is my final place to go before returning to Vienna to go home. I get there around 7:30-8:00, and leave at 10:30. So it would have made no sense money-wise to purchase a third pass for one last “ride”, from Pentagon City to Vienna. I just used my SmarTrip to get back to Vienna.

I made a few calculations to see how I did on fares. I spent more money on passes today than I would have spent if I’d just tapped my SmarTrip at every stop. Two day passes plus the run from Pentagon City to Vienna cost me $15.35. But if I’d just tapped my SmarTrip from the start, it would have only cost me $14.75. So I spent sixty cents more in fare using the passes. However, if I’d not replaced my pass at New Carrollton and just used SmarTrip the rest of the day, it would have cost me $16.55. In other words, assuming all other things are equal (same entries and exits made), it would have cost me $1.20 more to go that route. So it seems I did the right thing considering the circumstances.

Of course, the fundamental issue is this: How the hell did I manage to lose two passes in one day?!? That’s the million-dollar question. And the other thing I want to know is, how can we prevent a recurrence? I think I need to get something a little more substantial to put the farecard in than just going straight in – something I can feel in my pocket. As it stands, I can’t feel the farecard. It sits right against other things, and it is so thin that I can’t feel its presence with the other things in my pocket. I ought to go get one of those holders for DASH passes from Tristan next time I go down there. That would be sufficient for me to know it’s there by feel, and also protect the pass from damage.

Still I don’t understand it. I make a lot of these trips, and this is the first time I’ve ever done that badly on keeping up with my passes…

Web site: WMATA information on fares - rail fare information is at the bottom.

Song: The song from that Petsmart commercial with Walter Jones in it (hey, buddy, where's Bobo?)

Quote: "Where's my pass?"

Categories: DC trips, WMATA