Talkin' Transit

Talkin’ Transit: Metro Roundup

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courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

There’s some changes coming to SmartBenefits in the new year, and you might want know about them now for your long term planning health.

Metro tells us that starting January 1, 2011, there will be two changes to some benefit programs mandated by the government. The first change is a limit on how much money a person can get for transit. The new limit is $120, a full $110 less than it is this year.

The agency says that of about 285,000 people that receive a transit benefit, about 90,000 will be affected by this. This change comes about as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expires at the end of the year.
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The Daily Feed, WMATA, WTF?!

Yeah, Thanks, We Knew Already

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‘”You Are Too Stupid”‘
courtesy of ‘swilkes’

In case you were wondering, WMATA is officially delaying the January SmartBenefits program until 2011. Oh, wait, you already knew that? Really? When did you find out…wait, last week, you say? When GM John Catoe, Jr. announced it at a small budget forum? Or was it from GGW, us, WJLA, the Examiner, or WaPo?

Oh, right. How silly of me. In Metro’s world, it’s not “official” until they put it out as a press release. Well, wait no longer. You’ll note that despite what Catoe and others said last week, this release only says that Metro has delayed the change and the program “will remain as is until further notice.” Which, in Metro’s little world, could be as early as oh, say, tomorrow. So despite what some officials said last week, the program may well not be on hold for all that long – or it could be promised in February. Nice way to help non-federal businesses figure out what the hell to do, that.

You know, I was waiting for this release with great anticipation, ever since we found out in such a half-assed, roundabout manner last week but had no official press announcement on something so huge that affects many commuters in the area. I had high expectations this press release would be a masterpiece of media savvy, an epic piece of public relations literature that would be a shining example to companies worldwide on how to execute the perfect informational piece. With lots of detail, charts and quotes. Because they were taking a long time to craft such a simple message.

Clearly, I had the bar set too high. WMATA? Your communications policies continue to be EPIC FAIL.

The Daily Feed, WMATA, WTF?!

WMATA silently edits news release

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courtesy of ‘aquateamhungryfort’

Earlier I linked to a WMATA news release on the changes to how SmarTrip SmartBenefits would be handled and disbursed. When reader Nate commented that he disagreed with me about the significant part of the story I went back to look at the release again… and was surprised that I had misremembered there being a section about how unused benefit deposits were refunded

When I checked another window, however, I discovered I hadn’t misremembered – WMATA had just edited the release and made no note of the change. Both releases state they were issued at 11:52am today. The original section that explains what Nate is talking about was the last bit of the second paragraph and reads as follows:

Any unused benefits will be credited back to the employer at the end of each month. Employees who currently contribute a portion of their pre-taxed salary to through the SmartBenefitsĀ® program should contact their employers to determine how that employer will handle any unused portion of their pre-tax contribution.

The new edited release makes some mention of “pre-tax benefits” but excises the word “contribution” entirely. Kinda sleazy.

The other changed sections are after the jump.

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