WMATA Having SmartBenefits Issues System Wide

Photo courtesy of
‘Emily Adding $$…’
courtesy of ‘pthread1981′

It’s the first day of September, and for WMATA riders who set up the cost-saving SmartBenefits, it’s the day you refill your card now that the new month’s funds have been processed. That isn’t such a breeze this morning, as the system is having some serious issues connecting to the server. Wave your SmartTrip card at the machine, press SmartBenefits…and watch as it processes your transaction for a couple dozen seconds before finally saying the request can’t be fulfilled.  I experienced it in Rosslyn this morning as well as at Farragut West when I hopped off the train, and a quick scan of Tweeting commuters indicates things aren’t much better throughout the system (that’s right, by the way, I’m turning to Twitter users as a source for potential news).

Yes, it’s frustrating to get the rejection message, but this is interesting fodder for the debate that raged last week when Metro announced it would not allow SmartTrip users to go negative on balances. For long-time commuters, the amount on the SmartBenefits is precisely enough to get you through a month of trips. Not being able to add new funds (that the user pre-paid) is a new nightmare that is impossible to plan. Will this likely be resolved sometime today, with commuters taking care of things on the way home? Sure. But it may have made the morning a little bit less fun than usual.

Dave Levy is a PR guy by day, a media researcher on the side and a self-proclaimed geek. He blogs often about how traditional media adapts – or tries to adapt – to the growing digital media world at State of the Fourth Estate. You can follow Dave on Twitter for various updates about everything from sports from his previous home in Boston to eccentric and obscure pop culture references. Read why Dave loves D.C.

11 thoughts on “WMATA Having SmartBenefits Issues System Wide

  1. This happened at West Falls Church this morning, as well as the aforementioned Farragut West station. No one around me was able to get their SmartBenefits either, and the masses were not happy about it!

  2. That’s weird, because I was able to get my SmartBenefits this morning at Farragut West around 7am.

  3. WMATA personnel at Farragut North advised a few folks that SmartBenefits weren’t available this morning, around 8:50. Annoying situation, but at least WMATA was telling people it didn’t work?

  4. Sounds like the early bird gets the benefits. But I don’t expect that everyone is going to get up at the crack of dawn to fill up their card.

  5. This happened to me this morning as well. When I called Metro i got someone on the line who had no clue what was going on and didn’t even try to find out until I asked her if she could. Then what she told me didn’t make any sense.

    It seems like the more money Metro asks of its customers, the more problems the customers encounter. This is beyond pathetic. The system needs to be overhauled.

  6. i tried at 615am at cleveland park..and then at 645 at cap. south…neither worked..and they werent working for anyone exiting the train…the awesome train station manager at cleveland park gave me a free pass..

  7. I have been trying twice a day since September 1st, with no success to date. I guess I will lose those benefits again (happened two months ago).

  8. I went yesterday to reload my card and lo and behold, the system was still down. I find this absolutely ridiculous both in the fact that not only was supposed to be over “soon” (it’s been a month now) but that this wasn’t publicized at all (I catch a bus from Ashburn and there’s nothing that mentions this; the only time I go to Metro is once a month to reload the card).

    Time to privatize this joke of a system. I really doubt the CEOs at Enron, MCI or AIG could do any worse than those at WMATA.

  9. Same issue this month and I have been trying at least 15 times these last 9 days. I have never seen such a bad management !