Gwinnett Commuters Using MARTA Breeze Card Overcharged

A FOX 5 I-Team investigation has found a known software glitch has been overcharging some commuters using MARTA breeze cards for three years, and no one has fixed it.

It happens to riders taking Xpress buses out of Gwinnett County.  A glitch that some say is stealing from riders.

You have probably used a MARTA Breeze card to pay for a bus or train ride on MARTA.  It stores trips and cash and can be refilled on line.  It also works for commuters in outlying counties.

Our investigation found one commuter, Brian Wilson, has systematically documented his overcharges. Wilson, a software engineer, first noticed the overcharges three years ago.

It happens like this:  If you ride an Xpress bus out of Gwinnett County, the cost of your trip depends on how far you go. A short ride costs less than a longer ride. 

Wilson found when on the shorter bus ride, he was charged for the longer ride when he used his Breeze card.

In this case, an extra $1.25 for one trip.  A trip he takes every working day of his life.

"I work hard for this money," says Wilson, " they are not entitled to it.

Brian Wilson says the overcharge doesn't happen every time. It comes and goes. He first complained toGwinnett County Transit and MARTA three years ago and received  a refund.

He had no problems for a long time, then in June of this year, the overcharge bug was back. Gwinnett County investigated and determined Brian Wilson was right. So far, he says he's been refunded at least $100.

"Assuming 20 people on a bus, done to everyone of them, you are looking at a major haul," Wilson says.

According to Gwinnett Transit officials, three Xpress bus routes, involving 12 buses every day, could be affected by the problem.

And according to emails obtained by the FOX 5 I-Team, the glitch has been an issue ever since Gwinnett Xpress buses began using MARTA breeze cards.

Responding to complaints from Brian Wilson and another rider, top Gwinnett county transportation officials repeatedly write in internal emails that the Breeze card overcharging is a software glitch: "many more customers with the exact same problem" - 'We have been going back and forth with MARTA about it for 2 years" - "They (MARTA) refuse to admit to the glitch even though we have provided them with numerous examples"

State Senator Vincent Fort sits on the MARTA oversight committee.  He says if MARTA has knowingly allowed overcharges, he considers it theft.  

"If a rider jumps a turnstile, or got through the turnstile without paying. We would put them in jail," Fort says. 

MARTA would not talk with us on camera and repeatedly told us over the phone the problem is not their responsibility to fix. MARTA says the problem is in how Gwinnett County is using the Breeze card. Gwinnett County Transit officials say they have to rely on MARTA to fix any Breeze card issue.

After the I-team got involved, both sides have vowed this week to test the software and find a fix.