>Smartrip Passes – WMATA Confirms

>I spoke with WMATA earlier this year and earlier today about passes and Smartrip. I have a call in to discuss more details, but here’s what I’ve found out so far:

WMATA is working on integrating passes into Smartrip. You would be able to load passes into your Smartrip account, as well as maintain an account balance for any trips that you don’t have passes for.

They are working on automatic renewal of passes under a subscription system, as well as automatically recharging your card when it gets below a certain amount, or when you choose to load more funds online or at local establishments (he mentioned Giant grocery stores).

We specifically discussed the short rail pass, which is good for trips under a certain dollar value. He stated that the desired function would be for the pass to work automatically, with any overage automatically deducted from your cash value “purse”. This is exactly what I would like to do, as it would pay for my commute, while allowing me to do any non-commute travel for free. I’m sure there are many people for whom this pass already makes sense. However, the logistics of using the short rail pass are pretty terrible: purchase paper farecards, remember to bring any extra amount (in my case, 60 cents) you’ll need, and load the extra amount at the addfare machine at the end of each of your trips. Plus, the paper farecard can’t carry any cash value for the bus.

All of these options for passes on Smartrip would be under the current approved fare structure, so no new discounts, changes in prices or anything are being anticipated, only integration with Smartrip.

The timeframe for this is “written in pencil”, which he clarified as meaning subject to change at any time. The timeframe currently is sometime in 2009.

I’ll keep you all posted with any further developments.

Thanks to Richard S. of WMATA’s Smartrip Marketing department for the information and for taking the time to return my calls.

Inspiration for this post came from this story, which I found through Ryan Avent’s “The Bellows”.

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About perkinsms

I'm an engineer and father interested in transit, parking and economics.
This entry was posted in bus, government, passes, smartrip, transit, WMATA. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to >Smartrip Passes – WMATA Confirms

  1. >Did you talk about combining bus & rail passes? That's particularly frustrating, especially for people who could use either the short trip or a bus to work (say, U Street or Columbia Heights to DC residents).

  2. Michael says:

    >I think I mentioned in the post that there wouldn’t be any changes to the fare and pass structure. Those kind of changes can’t be made by staff, since it’s part of the circulated tariff. That kind of change requires public hearings and Board approval, unfortunately.I would be completely on board with that proposal. I think my comment on Ryan Avent’s blog was that the rail pass should get you the bus free, while the bus pass should get you a $1.25 discount on rail.

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