For immediate release: April 29, 2024

Metro improves faregate display screen messaging to streamline customer experience

Soon, fewer Metro customers will need to "see a station manager" when they get an error message while trying to tap in or out of a Metrorail station. Instead of getting stuck at the faregate, Metro will begin installing upgraded software technology that will lead to more seamless trips for customers. 

Starting today, customers will begin to see new messages on the faregate display screen if their SmarTrip® card is expired, invalid, or deactivated. Customers will then be able to address the issues quickly and independently by buying a new card through a mobile wallet – or at the fare vending machine – and transfer any value, if needed.  

New faregate messaging

New faregate messaging prior trip
Metro is also fixing another issue that occurs when the fare system does not record the SmarTrip card tapping both on entry and exit during a customer trip, leading to a "See Station Manager" error. That won’t be a problem going forward. As part of these improvements, faregates will automatically open and charge either the regular fare or reduced fare if using one of Metro’s reduced fare programs. The display screen will show the charge for the trip and the current SmarTrip balance.

Currently, when a customer’s SmarTrip card triggers an error at the faregate, the station manager must intervene, check the fare card to determine the issue, and help the customer through the faregate. This happens more than 4,000 times a day.

"We are giving our customers more information so they can take independent action and have a more seamless journey," said Metro Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Experience and Engagement Officer Sarah Meyer. "Station managers will still be available to assist with customer questions on SmarTrip cards as well as provide guidance on fares, wayfinding, and address customer emergencies."

These upgrades are made possible by Metro’s fare system modernization project. Newer, faster, more high-tech faregates have cleared the way to offer more options for contactless payment, faster transaction processing, improved customer reliability, and enhanced programming capabilities. 

The fare modernization efforts are part of Metro’s six-year, $12.4 billion Capital Improvement Program, investing in system safety, reliability, and the region's economy. The capital program does this by investing in new railcars, buses, and paratransit vehicles, improving stations and platforms, upgrading fire-suppression and emergency response systems, building new bus garages, replacing and repairing tracks, tunnels, bridges, signals, and more.