Twenty-Plus Reasons for Off-Board Fare Collection

November 12th, 2013


New Orleans Streetcar Off-Board Payment

A crowd of tourists wait to board the St. Charles Streetcar.

 A few years ago I visited New Orleans and took the St. Charles Streetcar from downtown to the terminus by Jefferson Ave.  The stop where my friends and I boarded had a ticket vending machine, which we used.  The stop pictured, however, did not.  I shared this picture with friends, entitled “Twenty-Plus Reasons For Off-Board Fare Payment.”

Metro is currently investigating options for off-board SmarTrip loading.

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  1. Stephen
    November 12th, 2013 at 14:21 | #1

    I have endured the wait at that exact spot, and it can be brutal! Three cheers for off-board payment.

  2. James
    November 15th, 2013 at 12:40 | #2

    Michael, you know what’s really holding up your buses? Yes, people re-loading SmartTrip cards and paying in cash (ban cash fares and give auto-reloading SmartTrip cards for free to lower-income individuals).

    It’s people alighting from the front door! In no European city will you EVER, EVER see passengers alighting from the front door unless, perhaps, they’re in a wheel chair. Start changing the absurd culture of leaving through the front door and your dwell times will decrease by AT LEAST 30 seconds per stop. People alight from the front door because they don’t know better — this is so silly. ‘Please alight through the rear door!’

  3. Michael
    November 15th, 2013 at 13:17 | #3

    Hi, James:

    Thanks for your comment. Did you see the post just previous to this one, and the next one?

    As you can see, lots of alternatives are being explored for speeding up our buses.

    As a Metrobus customer, I routinely hear audio announcements encouraging customers to exit through the rear door. How might you encourage changing the culture towards exiting through the rear door?

  4. James
    November 15th, 2013 at 14:47 | #4


    Hi Micheal,

    Yes, I have seen these reports — good! The District/WMATA should work together to implement bus-only lanes on 14th and 16th Streets as well.

    I almost never hear announcements encouraging customers to exit through the rear door. Regardless, these announcements are most likely ignored even when they are played, given the immensity of the problem. Changing this culture will require drivers to play this announcement at every stop (in a blitz) for weeks or months, in addition to orally — and politely — requesting that individuals who do start to exit through the front door exit through the rear door instead. This is a change that will speed up buses between 30-60 seconds at each stop and is absolutely FREE to implement! Instead, at present, what you have happen is drivers chastising passengers who try and board immediately as the doors open to wait while passengers alight. This is the exact opposite of how things should work. If you ever try and exit a London bus through the front door, you’re sure to never do it again after receiving hard stares from passengers and driver alike :)

    Of course, the ultimate way to speed bus travel in the District is just to implement a POP (proof-of-payment system) whereby passengers tap SmartTrip cards in either the front of the rear of the bus and are fined for non-compliance, as effective transit agencies throughout Europe (outside the UK) treat bus travel. If this were happening the front door/rear door issue would be moot, but given that the American-attitude towards transit is ‘freeloading poor people’ — we probably won’t ever have POP, which means that it’s absolutely necessary to instill a culture of front door alighting, no, rear door alighting, YES.

    This is something that you could literally ask drivers to begin implementing tomorrow…sometimes the biggest problems have the easiest solutions.

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