The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority announced Monday a two-year plan to boost the benefits of SmarTrip cards with hopes to eventually eliminate paper fare cards.
The Metro is encouraging the swap from paper to plastic by offering riders cheaper cards, the ability to connect their card to their bank account for automatic refills and a mobile app to manage their accounts on the go. The changes are set to roll out by 2014.
Starting Sept. 1, the cost of a SmarTrip will drop to $2 for riders who register their card online and pick up a $3 rebate.
Riders will be able to purchase SmarTrip cards from vending machines in 10 high-traffic stations, including Foggy Bottom, starting July 1. Other stations will be equipped with the machines later this year.
Previously, riders had to stop by Metro Station, Anacostia Station or one of about 400 retail outlets, like CVS Pharmacy, for a card.
Customers will be able to register their cards for the “auto reload” feature, which will automatically add cash to a card when it drops below a chosen amount, by late September.
About 90 percent of Metrobus riders and 80 percent of Metrorail riders already use SmarTrip, according to a release by the transit authority.
Riders will see increased efficiency under the new system, the Metro said in its release, because customers will spend less time in line at paper farecard machines and will be able to enter stations more quickly by tapping their card.