Bus Fare

I use a farecard for my bus fare. I don’t like the hassle of coins and cash and the card simplifies things for me. When my balance nears zero, I add more money online and the next day I ride the bus, the farebox transfers the extra amount to my card. If the system works.

Over the summer, I experienced an awkward trip home where I was short on fare according to the farebox, low on cash in my wallet, and exited the bus in embarrassment. I walked back to my office and checked my account online. The new amount never transferred to my card; it was listed, but not autoloading. I boarded another bus home, explaining to the bus driver my problem. I gave her the money I carried and she waved me to a seat, telling me to call the customer service number.

The nice guy I spoke with about my failed autoload explained yes, there was a farebox problem on the buses. Instead, I could go to a subway or Light Rail station and load it. Also, he told me no, there was no Alerts e-mail list I could join to receive news like this as a bus rider. No info on the bus website about an autoload problem, either.

My husband drove me to one of the Light Rail stations where my amount loaded onto my farecard. He understood my frustration, but reminded me to have a Plan B in place for bus fare because things don’t always go well. I tucked away enough cash in my wallet for a one-way emergency fare.

The following month when I replenished my balance, I watched my account. No autoload from the bus farebox. We traveled to the Light Rail station and autoloaded there.

It’s inconvenient and annoying. I’m not a driver, so unless I ride my bus longer to reach the subway or coordinate a ride to a Light Rail station across the county, no autoload for me. With no autoload, every time I need to replenish my farecard, my husband will need to drive me to an ATM to withdraw cash then I fuss with loading cash at the farebox as I board the bus. I want my autoload on the bus back, please.

I searched the bus website for autoload advisories. Nada. I noticed an eNotification link and I signed up to receive alerts by e-mail, but for the Local Bus I think it only alerts me to planned diversions.

Last week, when my balance neared zero, I replenished my balance online and checked my account after a few days. I held my breath as I scrolled down the list. The amount autoloaded from the bus farebox. Success.

Bus farebox autoload, I missed you. Glad to see you around again. But, like a lot of things in life, I have a Plan B bus fare option at the ready, just in case.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. I am lucky as in the UK many blind people (I think all) are entitled to a Freedom Pass which enables us to travel free of charge on the tube (London underground) on most local buses and on trains after 9:30 am. It is a good system but I sympathise with your problems. Although the man you spoke to in customer services was very helpful it sounds as though the company needs to upgrade it’s customer service particularly its alerts system.

    1. Drewdog: I love riding the tube. Great system. Spent a semester in college in London and I have missed the people, city, everything since.

  2. Julie says:

    Do you live in DC? Because this happens to me a lot too. It’s such a hassle.

    1. Nope, but the MTA buses would be close to DC. I’m sorry that you dealt with fare box hassles, too.

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