Metro wants to end the sale of paper fare cards and switch entirely to SmarTrip cards over the next 18 months. The plan is part of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s capital budget for fiscal year 2015, which is being voted on tomorrow.
The budget includes $8.7 million to convert the machines that currently dispense paper fare cards to only issue SmarTrip cards. This process will take 18 months, and stations still accept the paper cards during this time. According to the budget, the overhaul will be funded with profits from SmarTrip card sales.
Each Metro station already has a machine on site to purchase SmarTrip cards, which cost $10 apiece and come with $8 already loaded on them.
Metro spokesman Dan Stessel says there hasn’t been any significant reaction to this change; 93 percent of Metro users are already using SmarTrip cards. Fares purchased with a SmarTrip card are $1 cheaper than those purchased with a paper card.
The change means even tourists and visitors will need to purchase a SmarTrip card, and Stessel says the switch will translate to faster exists and entries for all customers.
“If you’ve ever been behind a tourist trying to figure out the right orientation for inserting a paper card, you know what I mean,” Stessel writes in an email to City Desk.
The Post reports that WMATA’s board is expected to approve the budget.
Photo by Perry Stein