Production glitch halts sale of SmarTrip cards

For the rest of September, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has halted all sales of SmarTrip Cards, the reusable plastic fare cards, because of a product defect.

"We get the cards in increments of 25,000, and the last batch we received, we discovered had serial numbers that matched cards that were already in service," Metro spokesman Steven Taub said. "This creates problems for tracking and managing funds for the computer system."

Existing cards were not affected by the glitch.

"We made a decision to keep an inventory of 5,000 cards so we will be able to replace any existing customers' cards should they become damaged or lost," he said.

Existing customers, such as AU sophomore Maddy Gitomer, report having no problems with their cards.

Upon discovering the problem, Metro sent the cards back to the manufacturer, Dulles, Va.-based Giesecke & Devrient America, for replacements.

Officials from Giesecke & Devrient America were unavailable for comment.

"[The manufacturer] will be covering the costs incurred," Taub said.

Although Taub expects to get the new shipment of passes in later this week, they will not be made available to the public until at least Oct. 1.

To this point, there have been no discussions regarding finding a new manufacturer to avoid this situation in the future.

Freshman Abby Kozel tried to buy a SmarTrip pass recently.

"We got to the station, and they said there was a problem with the cards, so we went shopping to heighten our spirits," Kozel said.

In all, there are more than 360,000 of the cards in circulation and Metro sells about 8,000 new ones each month, according to Metro's Web site.

SmarTrip cards cost $25 and come with $20 in Metro fare on them. They come with a tracking system, so that customers who lose their cards can have them replaced without losing money.

SmarTrip cards can be purchased online from Metro's Web site, www.wmata.com, or from sales offices at the Metro Center and Pentagon stations as well as Metro headquarters at 600 Fifth St. NW.

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