The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) plans to offer customers who purchase new SmarTrip cards a $3 rebate when they register online, effectively reducing the cost of the cards to $2. The effort is intended to encourage more riders to take advantage of the plastic, rechargeable fare card, that also provides a discount on Metrobus and Metrorail fares.
Beginning July 1, customers are now able to load one-day rail passes, previously available only on paper farecards, and the new 28-day rail passes onto SmarTrip for added convenience. Metro already has a number of passes available on SmarTrip including the weekly bus pass and 7-day Rail Fast Pass.
Starting September 1, Metro will begin offering the $3 rebates to customers who register their cards online after purchase. The cards will still cost $5, but the $3 credit will be refunded to the card five days after first use. SmarTrip card registration also protects a rider’s balance if the card is lost or stolen. Since introducing SmarTrip cards in 1996, riders have paid $5 for the card.
This fall, riders who have an online SmarTrip account can look forward to an “auto reload” feature. Riders already have the ability to reload their SmarTrip cards online, but this option will automatically load value onto the card whenever the balance drops below the rider’s specified amount. Customers will be able to link their SmarTrip cards to a credit or debit card that will automatically add value, similar to an EZ Pass. SmarTrip account holders also may view their card balances and usage histories, and load certain bus and rail passes.
Future SmarTrip initiatives planned for 2013 and 2014 include developing a mobile application to give customers all of the functions of the SmarTrip self-service website on their mobile phones, enabling riders to purchase passes with SmartBenefits and allowing customers to add value to SmarTrip cards at the exit fare machines.
SmarTrip users pay less for their Metrorail and Metrobus fares. Bus riders save 20-cents per ride, get free bus-to-bus transfers and a 50-cent discount if transferring to rail when using SmarTrip. Beginning July 1, Metrorail is now charging an extra dollar per trip for riders who use paper fare cards. Riders may avoid the $1 surcharge by using SmarTrip.
For more information about SmarTrip or to purchase a card, please visit www.wmata.com/fares/smartrip.