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.