New SMART IDs to be issued this fall

Credit: Annette Ko/Art Editor Credit: Annette Ko/Art Editor

Students were recently asked to vote on a new design for the Carnegie Mellon student ID card.

Next year, every Carnegie Mellon student, faculty member, and staff member will receive a new SMART ID card. Those who currently have a sponsored or affiliated ID will not receive a new SMART card, as the technology on the new cards is being used for public transportation access. Currently, such access is marked by a bus icon on the ID card.

The transition to SMART cards comes as a result of a new agreement between the university and Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT). According to the HUB’s website, “SMART cards contain a computer chip allowing a cardholder to simply “tap” his or her card on the PAT bus (or incline or T) reader in order to gain transportation access.”

The change in Carnegie Mellon’s agreement with Port Authority also resulted in an increase in the transportation fee that students pay — from $110 to $120, according to the HUB’s website.

Other than the change in transportation access, the SMART cards will be used in the same ways that current ID cards are used, including access to a student’s Plaid Ca$h, print quota, and on-campus residence.

The University of Pittsburgh already employs SMART-card technology, and according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, it recently extended its agreement with PAT for another five years.

Carnegie Mellon, Chatham University, and the University of Pittsburgh — the three local universities that pay the PAT for unlimited rides — generate about 600,000 rides per month, about 11 percent of PAT’s total riders, according to the Post-Gazette.

Students received emails asking for submissions for designs for the new ID cards. There has been some controversy among students about the three designs being offered as voting options.

“[The new designs] are not great. There is one that’s okay, but other than that the designs could’ve been better,” said Nathan Oh, a first-year information systems major.

Camilo Estrada, a first-year vocal performance major, agreed. “I feel like we could come up with something better.”

The controversy over the submitted designs offered even led to an online petition on, written by Jordan Wu, an undeclared first-year CFA student.

In the petition, Wu wrote that “after viewing the submissions, I believe that the designs are not the best that CMU has to offer us. It is implausible to me that CMU, with our amazing arts and design schools, could produce designs such as these. Frankly, I would be embarrassed showing any of these designs to anyone as a representation of our school.”

Samantha Dickinson, a junior creative writing and linguistics double major, spoke about the effect that the appearance of the ID card could have on some students.

“I guess people see it as a reflection of themselves, so carrying around something that they don’t want to represent them could be problematic,” she said.

The petition has over a hundred signatures and comments such as “we can do better than this.”

Dickinson also said that she supports the adoption of a “really basic design. I don’t usually look at my ID anyway.”

When students return for the fall semester, they will be able to pick up their new SMART cards Sept. 23–27 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Andy’s Alcove on the lower level of the University Center.

In order to receive a new ID card, students must return their old card, or face the standard $25 replacement fee.

New undergraduate students will receive their SMART cards during Orientation.