Miami Needs a Comprehensive Farecard System

On my way to work recently, I encountered something that aggravates me to no end: out-of- order token machines. And it’s not like just one of them is out-of-order - ALL OF THEM. This pretty much causes chaos at the particular station, making life hell for security guards (as well as shifting their focus from what they should be doing). Sometimes they will try to give you change, but most times they are stuck letting people through without paying a fare.

This level of service is completely unacceptable, yet it seems to happen much too frequently. The bottom line: we need a legitimate farecard system. It’s such a pain in the arse to walk around with pockets full of change or having to break larger bills to get tokens. This is a big money loser for MDT as well; I wonder how many people are allowed through without paying their full fare (or any fare) because of a system breakdown like this?

I know one thing for sure, I would ride Metrorail more often during months I am without a Metropass if I wasn’t hassled by the payment options of the current system. If I don’t have any tokens left, or no $1 or $5 bills, I’m stuck either breaking a larger bill at a store for a pack of gum, or finding an ATM, taking out $20 (plus $2.00 service fee), then finding a store to break my $20 on a pack of gum so I can ride the Metrorail. I’m sure thousands of other people go through similar ordeals so they can ride. Perhaps thousands of choice riders stay away because of such inefficiency.

For example, let’s use New York’s MetroCard. If I don’t own a car and I plan on using subways and/or buses for most trips, I’ll buy a monthly card (similar to Miami’s Metropass) for about $76 dollars, which allows for an unlimited number of rides that month. However, unlike Miami’s Metropass, if I ride my bike to work sometimes I may not need to spend $76 for an unlimited monthly card. I could then buy a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard (from automated kiosks, by the way), and pay only half as much as a monthly unlimited card. Moreover, I can refill the card as needed, and can use it to pay for up to four people at a time. This would make life easy when family visited, because instead of renting a car or dealing with the hassle of change/tokens for each member, the host could use their farecard to pay for family/friends. Or, depending on how long your family/friends are staying and how much transit you intend to use, they could each purchase unlimited day ($7) or unlimited week ($24) cards. This would give us total transit freedom and eliminate payment hassles. Transfers between transit lines/modes would be free under most circumstances mentioned above. Even for non-transit riders, this means fewer cars on the road because tourists and visitors would feel less obliged to rent cars (thousands of cars on Miami roads each day are rentals).

For anyone who wants to voice their displeasure with our inefficient, antiquated fare system, click here.

4 Responses to “Miami Needs a Comprehensive Farecard System”


  1. 1 Anonymous

    I agree wholeheartedly — this is a major drawback. I remember some time ago SFRTA mentioned the eventual integration of MDT, BCT, PalmTran, and Tri-Rail’s fare collection systems into one. Wish it would happen faster. Tri-Rail’s machines take credit cards, a major plus. Again, I agree the lack of all-day passes is a major deficiency in the system.

  2. 2 John

    Amen, it’s about time somebody said it. I’ve been wondering why we don’t move to a MetroCard (NYC) or Oyster Card (London) system for a while now. I was just in Boston, and riding the T was easy with weeklong passes. Both systems were based on easy to use kiosks, and were tourist friendly. As a tourist mecca, we need to make public transit more accessible to our visitors.

  3. 3 Anonymous

    It’s true payment should be streamlined, but the metro-rail has to be expanded first, as it doesn’t go anywhere. Looking forward to future rail lines.

  4. 4 John

    I agree. In D.C., you can put money on a farecard which then can be used on the subway or the buses. Transferring between the two is easy - some central computer keeps track and only subtracts the transfer fee.

    In Miami, transferring is a big headache. You have to remember to buy a bus transfer before catching the train. Buying a bus-to-train transfer is even worse: it costs one token + 85 cents (five coins) on the bus and it takes the driver a fair bit of time to complete the transaction. A real hassle all around.

    -John S.

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