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My Day Using The RFID Marta Breeze Smartcard

A few weeks back I had the chance to try out the new "Breeze" cards that have debuted in the Atlanta subway. I was on my way to see a football game at the Georgia Dome and I was taking Marta from the Airport station to the game.

Even though I was use to using the old token system that they had in place I was quite surprised at the convenience of the new smart card. I walked up to the vending machine where I was approached by a helpful station agent. This took me by surprise but being that the system is still new I should have figured as much.

The agent and I had a little talk and I did not let on that I knew how it all worked. I wanted to see how much information he could provide me. I told him I was use to getting a card instead of a token since that is the way you pay in New York City for a Metrocard. At first my buddy Scott who was with me thought we were buying a token for the train so he was confused as I walked up to the machine to begin with.

Since this was the second time in the last two weeks that I bought a card I was pretty much use to using the machine already but like I said I wanted to get information from the agent. I asked him how this new system was working and he said the people riding the Marta didn't take to it at first but they were slowly coming around to the idea of a smartcard. You have to remember they went from a token system right to the card practically overnight.

Most people had concern on what information was on the card but since you don't have to provide any information all that is on the card is the amount that is placed on the card. They probably monitor which stations the card is being used at but that is about it so there is no privacy issues.

I asked him about the amount that most people were putting on the card and he told me it was mostly $20 purchases with round trips a close second. I can see that as the $20 bill can get you quite a few trips.

On this trip I purchased two round trip cards as I wanted to have an extra card so I can take it apart and see exactly what is inside it, although I haven't done that yet as of this writing.

Scott and I approached the turnstile after spending a few minutes playing dumb with the station agent. At the turnstile (or should I say RFID reader) was another agent that was eager to show us how to swipe the card.

Actually swipe the card is the wrong word as I placed the card in front of the turnstile with a light wave and the gate opened. Scott looked at me with the expression of how did I do that?

At that point the agent took the card from him and waved it in front of the turnstile. The gate opened and we were on our way to the football game between the Falcons and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After the game we went back to the train station and this time Scott used his card and got right in. All in all it was faster than a token and better than the Metrocard system that we are use to up in New York. 

You can see more information on the Marta website Itsmarta.com or the site they have set up explaining the new card Breezecard.com.