Can President Kennedy ride the DC/Maryland bus?
August 18, 2013 7:20 AM   Subscribe

Do WMATA (DC/Maryland SmartTrip-equipped) buses take half-dollar coins?

I'm wondering if the on-bus machine where you insert coins to pay for bus fare (if you don't have a SmartTrip card) take Kennedy half-dollar coins. Do they fit in the slot? Are they read?

I put money on my SmartTrip card but it won't be loaded until some time after I touch it a fare machine, so I need to scrape together coin fare; since I only have enough coin fare around the house by using half-dollar coins, I'm wondering whether I can use those or whether I need to make the two-mile walk to the bank. Thank you!
posted by pavane to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (6 answers total)
Best answer: There's a couple technical/contractual documents you can find online (example PDF) that suggest you can.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:46 AM on August 18, 2013

Response by poster: That's fantastic. Page 6-21 states that Kennedy half-dollars should be accepted (though it's a 2012 document, so there's a chance that the requirement has not been adopted on all buses yet). For anyone wondering, elsewhere in the document zombieflanders linked it states whole-dollar coins are to be accepted as well.

If anyone has any anecdotal experience of actually being able to use such a coin recently, that would still be good to hear.
posted by pavane at 7:55 AM on August 18, 2013

Best answer: I was intrigued by your question so I called WMATA customer service and the woman said no, the buses don't accept half-dollars; she didn't sound very confident in her answer but it's official Metro information.

I'm thinking about having my husband call back to ask again since I can't be confident that I won't get the same woman.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:59 AM on August 18, 2013

Response by poster: D'oh, I didn't think WMATA customer service would answer on a Sunday, but that's the way to do it! If they're not sure about what coin sizes they take, maybe they can answer whether they have a policy to let someone with the right fare ride even if their coins don't fit in the box.
posted by pavane at 8:14 AM on August 18, 2013

FWIW, I have never seen anyone kicked off a DC bus for lack of correct fare so long as they make some attempt to pay. I would be curious to know how much is officially at the driver's discretion.
posted by zennie at 8:25 AM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

That's fantastic. Page 6-21 states that Kennedy half-dollars should be accepted

Actually, the bit I think you are referring to says that halves are not accepted: "The coin slot shall be sized to prevent...insertion of...US Kennedy half-dollar coins."

However, that article describes in-station ticket vending machines, not on-bus coin boxes. And if they don't take them either, in my (quite extensive) experience of paying for things with halves, it isn't too hard to find someone willing to change a few bucks of them for you.
posted by clorox at 6:55 PM on August 19, 2013

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