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Metro Expanding SmarTrip Sales

Metro learned a lesson when began requiring drivers to use SmarTrip cards for parking at the stations, but didn't have enough of the cards to meet the sudden demand.

Starting Jan. 6, Metro will try to steer more bus riders toward using the electronic fare cards. The Metrobus fare will go up a dime unless riders pay with SmarTrip cards, and the transit authority says there will be plenty of cards available for people who want to buy them.

SmarTrip cards have long been available online at Metro's Web site. But Metro is taking a couple of steps to get the cards out to the public. In early January, SmarTrip cards will be available to purchase for the regular $5 fee (in cash) at eight of the busiest bus stations from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Here are the dates and the places:

-- Jan. 3 at Anacostia Metrorail station (on the side near the bus bays)
-- Jan. 4 at Minnesota Avenue Station
-- Jan. 7 at Columbia Heights Station
-- Jan. 8 at Potomac Avenue Station
-- Jan. 8 at Union Station
-- Jan. 9 at Silver Spring Station
-- Jan. 9 at Ballston Station
-- Jan. 10 at Brookland Station

The transit authority also will give about 50,000 cards to social service agencies across the region so that they can be distributed to people in need, who might otherwise hesitate at buy a card. (See The Post story by Lena H. Sun about the transition to the new rail and bus fares.)

Riders will be able to add value to their cards at the Passes/Farecards vending machines in all Metrorail stations or on Metrobuses. It's a lot easier to do it in the rail stations. Adding value to a card at the bus's fare box will only annoy you and the people waiting in line behind you to board.

Still, the cards are very useful and worth the five bucks. They eliminate the need to pick up a bus transfer, making the transfer calculation automatically when pressed against the bus's fare box. And they can be used on many other regional bus systems as well. That list now includes: ART, CUE, DASH, Ride On, Fairfax Connector, Loudoun County Transit and the D.C. Circulator. Someday, SmarTrip, or a form of SmarTrip, should be good for travel on our suburban rail lines as well.

By Robert Thomson  |  December 27, 2007; 5:30 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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