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Metro expands parking payment options

By Robert Thomson

Metro says that by next summer, 22 more stations will be able to take credit card payments for parking. Since the transit authority went to a cashless payment system in 2004, most transit users who park in Metro lots and garages have been able to pay only by SmarTrip card.

In 2006, seven stations became part of a pilot program allowing people to pay by credit card. I guess it worked out okay, because Metro announced Monday that Glenmont, Grosvenor, Rockville, Addison Road-Seat Pleasant, Naylor Road and Branch Avenue are now accepting credit card payments.

These other stations will be added by the summer: Suitland, Southern Avenue, West Hyattsville, Prince George's Plaza, College Park-U of Md, Greenbelt, Morgan Boulevard, Van Dorn Street, Dunn Loring-Merrifield, West Falls Church-VT/UVA, East Falls Church, Cheverly, Landover, White Flint, Twinbrook and Forest Glen.

Credit card payments will continue at the original seven: Anacostia, Franconia-Springfield, Largo Town Center, Vienna/Fairfax-GMU, Shady Grove, New Carrollton and Huntington.

Some stations, such as Silver Spring on the Red Line, do not have Metro-operated parking, so this expansion does not affect them. But at the others just named, drivers will be able to use their Discover, MasterCard, Visa, American Express or Japanese Credit Bank cards as the stations come online. SmarTrip payments still will be accepted.

The Rhode Island Avenue Station parking area is under reconstruction as part of a larger redevelopment project. When a new garage opens there, it also will accept credit cards.

Metro went to the cashless system after discovering that it couldn't keep track of where the parking revenue collected by people at the exit booths was going.

Regular riders have gotten used to paying with their SmarTrip cards. What's annoying is that occasional riders and tourists often realize only at the exit gate that they must have a SmarTrip card. That holds up the entire line.

By Robert Thomson  | November 8, 2010; 12:10 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail  
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Since Metro went to cash-less parking six years ago, why are there people still in those exit booths? Exactly what do they do all day? Seems to me the exorbitant Metro parking fees could be reduced if they didn't have to pay those salaries. Or if not reduce the parking fees, use the money to fix all those broken escalators.

Posted by: taupecat | November 8, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: The people are there for when the machines break down or when somebody gets to the gate without a SmarTrip card and has no idea what to do.

Posted by: Dr_Gridlock | November 8, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

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