Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Metro Confidential – Expert Tips to Hack Your Trip

January 7th, 2016 2 comments

In 2016, resolve to travel like a transit pro with these five Metro master tips and tricks.

Even the most seasoned Washingtonian learns a thing or two each day about a tip, tweak, hack, or just plain common sense adjustment to their transit trip that makes their journey quicker, hassle-free, and more fun!  Here are some of our favorites that we hope you’ll try in 2016 – happy transiting!

We've all been there. These tips will help you master train crowding and more. Image: WMATA

We’ve all been there. These tips will help you master train crowding and more. Image: WMATA

  1. Set up Auto Reload – You’ve got more important things to do than fuddle with a 1970s era fare machine or to get stuck at the end of your trip without enough stored value to exit the system.  Set it and forget it to skip this step forever!  Auto Reload allows you to set up stored value and pass products so they can be automatically reloaded to your SmarTrip® or CharmCard® when your stored value runs low or your pass is about to expire.
  2. When it comes to train cars, there’s usually more room up front or in back.  WMATA runs trains in two different “consists” – those with eight cars, and those with six.  For whatever reason, customers tend to gather on the platforms near the middle cars and pack them way too tightly.  Meanwhile, even when the middle cars are overloaded, there is often room in the first or last car in the train (Cars 1 and 6/8).  We don’t know exactly why human behavior fosters “bunching” (we do know that lack of traffic priority fosters bus bunching) but now that you know, try the first or last cars when you want to spread out and/or have a seat.
  3. You’ve heard of Next Bus – try Next Station.  What’s that?  A new app?  New service?  Nope – it’s a handy tip for making your journey simpler.  The next time you’re approaching your destination, try peeking up from your phone and get into the aisle (not vestibule, and please don’t block priority seating if our most sensitive customers are standing!) one stop ahead.  That way you are pre-positioned to exit the train without pushing/shoving through on boarding passengers (or getting elbowed yourself as you slow everyone else down!)
  4. Plan an exit strategy.  I’m a Red Line rider and my office at WMATA is convenient to Judiciary Square.  I try and make sure to board the train at Car 3, door 1.  That way I’m exactly where the escalator meets the platform when I disembark.  Try figuring out your exit strategy next time you travel, or use the Metro Master website.  Which car and door makes the most sense for your journey?  How does that work with/against the tips above?
  5. There’s an App for that.  WMATA works with the developer community to help them help you.  Choose from the multitude of apps out there that help you plan the perfect transit trip.  Is your line running smoothly or gummed up?  Hop on a bus or take the train?  Blue for you or Hello Yellow? Eliminate the guesswork and join the transit technology revolution – you’ll be surprised how much easier your trip is when you app before you tap.

What other tips help you ride Metro like a regular?


Bordeaux: City of Wine and… (No) Wires?

August 25th, 2014 2 comments

Known to most Americans for its famous wine varieties, Bordeaux is also an innovator in surface transit technologies that allow for wireless tram operations on its downtown streets.

Two wireless trams serve paired center city station platforms

Two wireless trams serve paired center city station platforms

On a visit to Bordeaux in 2010, I drank its fabulous wines, walked along the Garonne, enjoyed its comfortable summer climate… and took note of its innovative trams (light rail/streetcar).  You might be thinking “trams… really?”  Yes!  While most systems are powered by overhead wires, when it opened in 2003 Bordeaux’s system was the only modern example of ground level powered wireless trams in the world.  The proprietary APS system allows for typical overhead wire operation in the areas outside the central city and operation with ground-level power (see photo below) inside it in order to preserve unobstructed views in the old city.  Although the system initially had reliability problems, it now seems to be performing well.

Read more…

Metrorail Parking Pay-by-Phone Pilot

July 26th, 2012 2 comments

A familiar sight at Metro’s metered lots is that of a customer searching for coins to feed the parking meter.  Priced at $1/hour, that can add up to a lot of quarters or dollar coins.  Starting Monday, July 30, 2012, at the Fort Totten and Rockville Metrorail stations, Metro is introducing a new parking meter technology from  Parkmobile that will allow customers to pay for parking using a smartphone app or over the phone. It’s the same payment system widely in use in the District of Columbia, but with an extra twist: within seconds, thanks to sensing technology from Streetline, the time you pay actually displays on the meter.  You can find out about Parkmobile and download the app at


This new Parkmobile payment technology is compatible with the “Parker” app by Streetline for iPhones and Android, which provides another option for cash-free payments while enabling many additional features.  For example,  you can find a parking spot in real time at the Fort Totten and Rockville metered lots, and the Vienna-Fairfax/GMU South daily surface parking lot.  Additionally, Parker provides policy information for every single Metro parking lot and garage (even those without sensor information) — see

Read more…

Categories: Planning Studies Tags: ,