If you're following my series of posts recommending immediate implementation of a "virtual tunnel" between the Farragut stations (1st post, 2nd post), you will be dismayed by this piece of news I read in the Washington Post yesterday: SmarTrip Upgrades Pushed to 2010.
As mentioned in my last post, in a conversation with a Metro employee, I was informed that the upgrades to the SmarTrip cards would include the capability to provide for many improved features, including these kinds of transfers (BTW - another potential tunnel that has been studied is between Metro Center and Gallery Place, which would also be a candidate for a virtual tunnel).
According to the Post, the software vendor, Cubic Transportation Systems, has missed deadlines and run over budgets and basically screwed this whole process up pretty badly.
Evidently, Cubic has been WMATA's fare technology vendor for the entire history of the agency (and apparently has gotten fat and happy and stopped worrying about satisfying their client). Might be time to inject some competition.
Back to the point of these posts, though. Given this new delay (and who knows if deadlines will be missed again), I could probably dig the tunnel myself with a shovel and a pick before the software upgrades are completed. I'm of the understanding that the current SmarTrip cards and farecards can accommodate the minor software change to allow for the virtual tunnel to be implemented now. Why not ask Cubic to make this simple change as a small concession for their inability to deliver the other upgrades on time and on budget? I think Metro could and should request it. What do you say, Mr. Catoe? Or maybe the new SmarTrip card director, Cyndi Zieman, can take the initiative to get it done herself.
Stay tuned! I tested the transfer personally and will relate my experience in my next post.
(Shout out to Greater Greater Washington for picking up on my posts)