Metro News Release

For immediate release: June 11, 2012

Metro improving SmarTrip® cards

New features and $3 credit effectively lowers price

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 encourage more riders to take advantage of the plastic, rechargeable fare card that also provides a discount on Metrobus and Metrorail fares.

The Metro Board’s Finance and Administration Committee will be briefed on several SmarTrip® improvements on Thursday:

  • 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 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.
  • Starting September 1, Metro will begin offering $3 rebates to customers who register their cards online after purchase. The cards will still cost $5, but a $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.
  • Another key element in Metro’s efforts to increase the use of SmarTrip® is making it easier and more convenient to purchase. To that end, Metro will be installing SmarTrip® card vending machines in all rail stations by September. The installation process has already begun, and the top 10 stations where paper fare cards are sold, including Foggy Bottom, Union Station, Smithsonian and Rosslyn will have SmarTrip® dispensers by July 1.
  • Beginning July 1, customers will be 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.

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.

Nearly 90 percent of Metrobus riders and more than 80 percent of Metrorail riders currently use SmarTrip®. Further increasing the usage of SmarTrip® has benefits for both riders and Metro. SmarTrip® saves riders’ money, eliminates the need to stand in line to use vending machines in stations and offers balance protection for registered users who lose their cards. For Metro, increasing SmarTrip® use reduces the need for paper fare cards, and also cuts costs and fraud.

Cards also are available for purchase online, at commuter stores and at 250 retail locations including many CVS and Giant stores throughout the region. Metro is seeking to expand the network of retail outlets for installing SmarTrip® cards.

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 will charge 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, go to


News release issued at 10:56 am, June 11, 2012.