Way to tick off MARC commuters: promise free caffeine; don't deliver.

"MARC Train and McDonald's invite you to a Spring McCafe promotion. MARC train riders at four stations will receive free samples of McDonald's frappes, mochas and hot chocolate as they arrive for morning departure."

That good news was followed by bad. "The McDonald's McCafe promotion scheduled for several MARC stations has been canceled."

No mochas. No free morning sugar-caffeine buzz. No explanation. 

My MARC-riding tipster offered his take: "judging by the girth of the bureaucrats who board the train at Odenton, they don't need any more McFrappes, especially with the new cramped seats."

I called the Maryland Transit Administration to find out what happened. It seems Ronald McDonald and the MTA couldn't quite come to terms.

The Golden Arches doesn't have to pay anything to give drinks away at MARC stations, but the restaurant does have to sign a right-of-entry agreement that includes provisions for insurance in case of, say, a freak frappe accident. Or a multi-million-dollar scalding.

The MTA and McDonald's have come to terms before, but for some reason, the paperwork couldn't get finished in time for this promotion, Maryland Transit Administration spokeswoman Cheron Victoria Wicker said.

They'll probably be able to work out another giveaway down the line. "We did it last fall and it was hugely successful," she said.


Jilted MARC train riders want their free coffee. Sun photo by Amy Davis

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