WMATA is doing away with its clunky SmarTrip pricing scheme this fall and reducing the price of the card to $2. General Manager Richard Sarles announced today that the changes will go into effect on Oct. 1.
Currently the cards cost $5 and come with a $3 rebate offer if you register your card online. A card purchased at a Metro station costs $10, which includes $5 in fare value. In October, those cards will still cost $10, but will come with $8 on them.
Sarles said that the new pricing is part of a move away from paper farecards—the machinery to process paper cards is difficult to maintain, according to a WMATA press release, compared to SmarTrip technology. WMATA began charging a $1 surcharge per trip on paper farecards to encourage SmarTrip usage.
The price drop is the latest in a string of fare changes over the past few years. In 2010, WMATA said it would lower prices from $5 to $2.50 that fall. Metro ended back backing out of that promise, citing the cost of making the cards and concerns that riders would rig the system.
It’s worth pointing out that the new price isn’t actually a savings if you used the rebate system, though WMATA wasn’t able to immediately respond to questions about how many people sought out their $3 rebate.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery