24 January 2013

Prematurely Yellow

Such a good idea. The Opus card, a rechargeable and durable card for the whole variety of transit fares in the city, from single trips to monthly passes, buses, metro and commuter trains, a staple of public transit in Montréal now.

Then came more convenience: sign up for the "Opus à l'année" program (Yearly Opus) and the monthly payment will be automatically charged to your bank account and you won't even have to go to a recharging station to fill it up each month. Very handy indeed.

And now, the best of all! In recognition of loyalty, Opus à l'année customers are eligible for the Maestro status from their 13th month of belonging to the program. This status allows the Maestro to invite a friend along on any trip in the system after 6 pm or on weekends…for free! The Maestro Opus card will also work on the public transit in Québec City! What an excellent idea!

So usually when I write about things I have something negative to say (I'm a bit of a Debbie Downer that way), and this time is no exception. What could possibly be wrong with this fabulous program and all the encouragement to use public transit? It's all in the flashing lights.

You see, when you put your Opus card on the reader to pay your fare, a light flashes: green for those who pay full fare, yellow for those who pay a reduced fare (children, students and the elderly). The yellow light people all have to have an Opus card with a photo on it to ensure that the user is indeed the person entitled to the lower fare, so I suppose that's why it flashes yellow.

Now the Opus Maestro status. Hmmmm…still paying full fare, but have a card with a photo and must show that side to the bus driver or the metro attendant if bringing a guest. Fine. Flashes yellow. Not as enthusiastic about that!

For the last couple of weeks now, I have been feeling like I need to show the photo side of the card when getting on the bus lest anyone think I am pretending to be a senior for the discount. (We will notice that I don't think anyone would be fooled into mistaking me for a youth or a student, it's the senior thing that I hope I also don't seem to qualify for!)

Oh, I'm fine with my age. But at 52, I don't want anyone else on the bus or metro wondering why I get some kind of special deal and assuming that I'm scamming the system by not paying the whole fare. So why, STM, did you have to make the card flash yellow? We are under strict instructions to show it if we are actually bringing someone with us, so there is no other reason to signal our different status to those around us.

Oh, and if you are going to work on what to give us loyal customers next, may I suggest covering the "exit tax" from the 450 regions south and north (extra fare to pay to board the metro in Longueuil to the south of the island or Laval to the north, both telephone area code 450)? Please don't leave us stranded there! ;-)

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