Fare vending machines for bus, light rail and subway will not be accepting credit card payments while the Maryland Transit Administration conducts system upgrades for the next 14 months, the agency said.
Riders can continue to use cash at machines during the software and hardware changes, the MTA indicated in a press release. The machines themselves are not getting replaced, but their credit card processing hardware is getting swapped to make the machines more secure. The changes are underway and the agency plans to wrap the upgrades by December 2024.
The interruption will not affect MARC commuter rail purchases.
“The safety and security of our customers is paramount,” MTA Administrator Holly Arnold said in a statement. “That includes customer transactions and information when paying for their fares. We understand the inconvenience this causes our riders, and we’re working closely with service providers to complete this work as soon as possible.”
The CharmPass mobile app is a great option for the meantime, the MTA said — credit card purchases made through the app will not be affected by the system maintenance. The agency will give a free three-day pass to any new customers who download the app now through the end of October.
But for infrequent riders or the generally app-averse, MTA will have temporary, credit card-friendly fare vending machines up and running at high traffic stops and stations by springtime. Riders can also purchase fares via credit card directly at MTA’s downtown Transit Store.
Daniel Zawodny covers transportation for The Baltimore Banner as a corps member with Report For America, a national service organization that places emerging journalists with local newsrooms that cover underreported issues.