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Metro responds to customer questions regarding our COVID-19 response


What do I do if I have a partially used Pass on my Smartrip?

Please call SmarTrip Customer Service at 888-SMARTRIP (888.762-7874) to let us know. Metro is closely following the COVID-19 public health emergency and will announce credit plans for our customers once Metro service returns back to normal.

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Will I be charged if I have Auto Reload turned on for my Pass?

Metro does not charge for passes until the pass is loaded onto the SmarTrip. Passes are only loaded when your SmarTrip is tapped at a fare machine, Metrorail fare gate or Metrobus fare box. As long as you DO NOT tap your SmarTrip, the pass will not load and you will not be charged.

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Should I cancel my Auto Reload?

It is not necessary to cancel your auto reload. If you DO NOT tap your card, the pass will not load and you will not be charged. However, if you must use Metro on a limited basis for essential trips, it is recommended you cancel auto reload and use stored value. You may then reactivate auto reload once normal business resume.

Customers with auto reload for stored value (not a pass product) do not need to cancel as your card is not charge until your balance falls below your designated threshold. If you are not using they system, your balance remains the same and the auto-reload will not be triggered.

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I've already cancelled my Auto Reload online; do I need to tap my SmarTrip?

Some of you may have received an email asking to tap your SmarTrip to finalize the cancellation. However, you do not need to tap, as your Auto Reload cancellation has been processed.

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When should I reactivate my Auto Reload?

Customers who have already cancelled auto reload for their pass should re-activate auto reload once their commute returns to normal. Those who usually purchase an Unlimited Monthly Pass may wish to use Stored Value and wait to reinstate their pass for the following month, if they are unable to get a full-month's use of the pass.

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Why has Metro reduced service?

Metro’s has reduced both rail and bus service to protect frontline employees, while maintaining regional mobility for essential trips taken by hospital staff, government officials and emergency responders. The reductions take into account urgent public guidance from regional leaders, along with emergency orders to cancel events, close schools and offices, and limit social gatherings across the nation.

Our region is speaking with one voice: Stay home. Essential travel only.

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Doesn’t reduced service mean more crowded trains and buses? Isn’t that the opposite of what you should be doing?

Ridership is way down right now, so we do not anticipate crowding. We’ve had less than 20% of our normal riders on some days, and that’s ok with us. We want everyone to follow the guidance of public health officials and stay home. If that means fewer people riding Metro (and it does), the health and wellbeing of our employees and customers across the region is more important to us than having lots of riders.

Our control center teams continually monitor platform conditions, and we are using 8-car trains to increase capacity. It’s important that we all limit travel to essential trips, so that space is available for the hospital workers, government employees, and first responders who need us at this time.

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Is it true that you might close down the system?

We have a plan for just about everything, and if the safety of our employees, customers, or the community requires us to take such action, we have a plan to conduct an orderly shutdown of service.

While our goal remains to keep rail and bus service running for the people in our region who need us, we are prepared to take whatever action is necessary to keep the public and our employees safe. If any future changes are necessary, we will post an update on our website (wmata.com/COVID-19) and our Twitter account (@wmata).

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How are you keeping your employees safe?

Metro is taking several steps to ensure the safety of our employees, including enhanced cleaning at Metro support facilities such as bus depots and rail facilities. We have also:

  • Increased Metro’s on-hand warehouse inventory of essential supplies, such as hospital-grade disinfectant, wipes, face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and other items used by Mero’s frontline employees.
  • Allowed Station Managers to remain in kiosks at all times to minimize their public exposure. Access to kiosks – even among Metro employees – has been further restricted.
  • Closed all public restrooms system wide.
  • Given Bus Operators the discretion to bypass bus stops if their vehicle is too crowded to maintain safe social distancing.
  • Directed Train Operators to remain in operating cabs except in an emergency.
  • Taken unprecedented steps to protect the health of our employees in the Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC), including creating physical separation between ROCC employee teams. Operation of the rail system is alternating between two control centers, allowing downtime for disinfecting keyboards, headsets, microphones, screens and other critical equipment in the control center.
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Why don’t I see people cleaning the trains/buses/stations?

Most of the cleaning is done in rail yards and bus depots, so that customers aren’t exposed to hospital-grade disinfectants. It’s also easier to make sure we clean every pole and every seat when the vehicle is empty.

As for stations, our teams are circulating between our 91 stations and 618 escalators system wide, meaning you may not see us when we’re there. Our commitment to you is that we will disinfect frequently touched surfaces once every 24 hours with our crews moving from station to station on an ongoing basis.

Although we’ve increased cleaning, we must emphasize that all the cleaning in the world is still not as effective as the proactive steps you should take yourself – like washing your hands (or at least using hand sanitizer). Think of it this way: If we clean an escalator handrail at 9 a.m. and a few minutes later, someone who just coughed in their hand rides the escalator, your best defense is good personal hygiene.

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Why are you charging peak fares when you’re not providing peak service?

Metro’s Pandemic Task Force recommended against attempting a fare change for two reasons:Metro’s Pandemic Task Force recommended against attempting a fare change for two reasons:

  • First, with Metro’s 1990s fare gate technology, dozens of employees are needed to implement, test, and quality control and fare changes across our more than 700 fare gates at 91 stations. Doing this would conflict with our goal to keep home as many people as possible.
  • Second, lowering fares could have an effect of increasing ridership, and that’s not what we want right now. We need to keep trains and buses available for essential trips while maintaining social distance. 
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Can I take Metro to my medical appointment?

That depends. If you’re not feeling well, especially if you have any symptoms of illness (like fever, coughing, etc.), then no, it is definitely NOT OK to use public transportation, including MetroAccess.

You should call your medical provider BEFORE leaving home and follow their guidance. Again, for the safety of our employees, their families, and other riders, please do not use public transportation if you aren’t feeling well.

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Should I take Metro to view the Cherry Blossoms or other tourist attractions?

Metro’s Pandemic Task Force is strongly urging the public to NOT travel to view the Cherry Blossoms around the Tidal Basin so that limited transit capacity remains available for essential travel (doctors, nurses, essential governmental functions, etc). Metro reserves the right to close stations near the tidal basin at any time to discourage the use of Metro for tourist trips.

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Is it safe to ride Metro’s buses or trains?

Yes. Just remember to wash your hands, cover your cough, practice good personal hygiene, and stay home if you’re sick. It’s all good advice in a public space like Metro, regardless of whether we’re facing down a pandemic or not.

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Will any projects currently under construction or in planning be impacted?

While it’s impossible to estimate the effect COVID-19 will have on our construction projects, we know that it will have a major effect. We’ll keep the public updated once the public health threat is under control and we’re able to assess economic impacts, supply chain resilience, availability of workers and materials, and other factors.

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Does this affect the proposed bus changes? When will the Metro budget discussions take place?

While we’re all focused on responding to COVID-19, our Board of Directors is monitoring our efforts and considering ways to advance the budget process for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. The good news is that we’ve heard all of your comments and those will be considered by the Board before they make any decisions regarding fares or service changes. The Board is prioritizing public safety, and you should expect more information soon on when/ how they will conduct future meetings. Luckily, the Metro Board now livestreams their meetings on our YouTube channel, so you’ll be able to watch any upcoming public meeting from wherever you are.

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