SmarTrip cards now testing on D.C. buses

Good news for those who have trouble scrounging up exactly $1.20 to ride the Metrobus - Metro started testing the use of SmarTrip cards on several routes in D.C. and Maryland last Monday, Nov. 17.

All Metrobuses and many other transport systems in the D.C. area will eventually accept SmarTrip cards, which are reusable plastic fare cards that can be used on the Metrorail system.

Metro spokeswoman Cheryl Johnson said she was unsure exactly when all Metrobuses will accept SmarTrip cards. Metro needs to "assess how this new testing period goes, because we need input from bus drivers, employees and customers using SmarTrip cards," she said.

"There is no exact timeline, but probably around early spring," Johnson added.

AU freshman and SmarTrip user Rachel Shattuck said, "I think it's a really good idea because now you don't need to find $1.20."

Johnson projected that it would be much longer until SmarTrip cards could be used on other area transportation systems, such as the Maryland Transit Administration, which operates the MARC trains between Baltimore and the District.

The testing includes bus routes 30, 32, 34, 35 and 36, which go down Wisconsin Avenue into Georgetown. The full list of routes included in the testing is posted on Metro's Web site, www.wmata.com.

More than 100 buses are being tested, but riders should still bring the exact bus fare of $1.20 since there is no guarantee any bus will be one of them.

Metro began testing SmarTrip passes in 80 buses throughout Arlington, Fairfax and Alexandria counties in Virginia last November. The expansion into D.C. and Maryland was originally scheduled for spring 2003 but was delayed due to technical problems, according to the Metro Web site. SmarTrip cards can be purchased at the Metro Web site or a Metro sales office. SmarTrip cards have been around since 1999, according to the Web site.

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