Metro SmarTrip users, when is a zero balance not really a zero balance?

10:25 PM, Sep 11, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Metro riders, you have any older SmarTrip cards lying around? You'll want to listen think twice before tossing them aside.

A viewer named Drew Powell found four old SmarTrip cards he thought had some money left on them. He checked WMATA's website and it said two of them had zero balances. Powell called customer service and found out some information SmarTrip users might want to know, "On a SmarTrip card older than a year....you can't find out what the balance is unless you come down to the station and it begs the question why would a rider with a zero balance card come down to the station and put it in front of a fare card machine having already been told by WMATA that it's got a zero balance on it, its counter-intuitive. So where's all this money and what's Metro doing with it?

We asked WMATA. They say it's a server issue: "The SmarTrip "database" that is used for customer service (and accessed by customers via the WMATA website) only goes back one year. That is because the database contains a lot of information, and if we made data available going back for 2 or more years, it would be extremely burdensome on our central computers and report servers." 

WMATA also says they do keep all the historical data, and has the ability to go back to the beginning of the program, but that may take a little while longer and an extra step or two. Powell says this is not explained on their website, and having to call customer service, or physically go down to a Metro station is asking the customer to do more work than he feels is necessary. 

If you are wondering where the money lives, WMATA says it stays in a general ledger account. The money is only recognized as revenue when the funds are used to pay a fare. 

If you have a SmarTrip card that's older than a year or you have any problems with your SmarTrip card, tweet me at @DebraAlfarone 

 

 

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