Saturday, February 28

MARC and Your Smartbenefits

While I would prefer that people visit The MARC... Train blog to read about the gross mismanagement of taxpayer money dressed up as a commuter rail service, I can't help noticing that many of you are looking for information on how to use your SmartBenefits, your SmarTrip Card AND pay for your MARC abuse at the same time.

Accomplishing this trifecta of fraud, waste and abuse takes some planning and timing, but it can be done. I've done it, more than once. Here is the basic terminology:

The SmarTrip Card - This can be a standalone card system to which you add money. The difference between the card and the paper ticket is that your money is not on the card. So if you lose it you don't lose the money (that is if you report it lost or stolen before someone goes joyriding on the Metro system). There are other benefits of having a card account over the paper ticket as we'll see.

The SmartBenefits - This is a transit subsidy program that many of you have heard of and may even be taking advantage of whether you know it or not. Your employer establishes a SmartBenefits program through Metro and begins sending your transit subsidy there. Metro has a big database and keeps everyones name and employer sorted out.

The trick is to make sure your SmarTrip Card account is associated with your SmartBenefits in the big database. If you are not sure this is done call WMATA at 202-962-1326 and ask. Have your SmarTrip Card or account number handy.

This done, you can Add Benefits to your card on the first day of each month. Simply go up to any METRO card reading fare machine and start. (Tip: Don't be in a rush. Don't try to do this AND make the next train. Do this when you have the time to let a few trains me).
1. Touch your card
2. Select Add Benefits
3. Select "From SmartBenefits"
4. After that you're on your own. There are options to select how much to put on the card, whether you'd like a receipt, etc. have the have the SmartBenefits....what about MARC? OK. This is where comes in. Account - Set up a account by going to their web page:

Log in with your new account and click on the SmartBenefits tab. Add a SmartBenefits account. Just follow the prompts.
Then click on the Payment methods and provide a Credit Card number.
Then click on Renewable Orders and select MARC. Here is where you decide how much of your SmartBenefits to allocate to you Renewable Order (my order is a Monthly Pass). I take $90 from my SmartBenefits (my "Promise") and the rest from my credit card.

Then on the First business day of each month I load the rest of my SmartBenefits to my SmarTrip card!

Easy as pie. Please feel free to let me know just how lame you found this "help" to be.