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Seniors Concerned About Rider ID

Many people wrote in this month about Metro's decision to stop issuing senior ID cards and create an easily identifiable Senior SmarTrip card to pay their discounted fares.


Background: Seniors had often expressed frustration with Metro's former requirement that they apply for the ID card, wait weeks for it, and then go get a discount SmarTrip card at a separate location. So I liked the idea of eliminating the cumbersome two-step process. Don't bother with the senior ID anymore. Just get the Senior SmarTrip card.

New Concerns: Many people 65 and older don't take the train. They ride either Metrobuses or their suburban bus systems. Downtown Washington isn't a hub for them. These two letters, from readers in Fairfax County, express some seniors' worries about the new system:

What about seniors who ride the bus and have no SmarTrip card? Now, they pay cash and show their senior ID card. What will they have to show to get the senior discount?
Jack Fritz

Have heard about the Senior SmarTrip cards and have read that they are available at public libraries in Montgomery and Prince George's counties and at Metro sales outlets and commuter stores. Please tell me where are these Metro sales outlets and commuter stores. I have never seen one or know where to look for them.
Nancy Mattson

Some Solutions:
-- If you have a senior ID, you don't have to do anything till it expires.
-- Seniors can also get the reduced fare by showing a driver's license or other government-issued ID, a passport, or a Medicare card and a photo ID to buy the $10 senior Farecard for Metrorail or the $6 Metrobus weekly senior pass. On Metrobuses, seniors can show their Medicare card and photo ID to pay the reduced fare in cash.
-- Metro will tell you the nearest place to buy a senior SmarTrip if you call 888-762-7874. Use this link to see Metro's online guide to your nearest sales locations. In Fairfax County, for example, those locations include the Connector stores at the Tysons-West Park Station, the Reston Town Center Station and the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride.
-- You can add value to the SmarTrip card using the bus farebox. Here's a guide to adding value to the card. (Scroll down that page to see the bus part.)
-- On Ride On buses in Montgomery County: Don't tap the Senior SmarTrip against the farebox. As a senior, your getting a free ride there. So just show the yellow card to the driver.

By Robert Thomson  |  July 11, 2008; 8:08 AM ET
Categories:  transit  
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How about move to Florida and stop taking up space needed by people that have to work here?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a sr. citizen, any my vision, while not great, isn't especially bad. I ride the bus much more than the train and I would love to add money to my SmartTrip card on the bus. But the LCDs aren't backlit, making them all but impossible to read unless you get down to within a foot of the panel.

Posted by: DrB | July 11, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

How about because their kids live here and need to be close so they can take care of their parents? That has to be the most rediculous response I've ever seen on a message board. What good would kicking senior citizens out of DC area do?

Posted by: taking up space? | July 11, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: DrB, I agree with you about the difficulty of adding SmarTrip value at the bus farebox. For example, on a crowded route, who wants to stand there at the farebox and go through the add-value steps while a line of people waits behind?

If we want to increase bus ridership while making the system easier to use, then there's got to be a way to make the add-value system easier.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | July 11, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Just curious--why can't they just encode a regular SmarTrip card with info that tells the system that it's a senior citizen's card? Why do they need a specially-colored card?

Posted by: Rich | July 11, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Give them bikes.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Rich, my guess is that its for enforcement purposes. Makes it easier to catch people wrongly using them.

Posted by: Woodley Park | July 11, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Enforcement? Ha!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2008 1:21 AM | Report abuse


Learn to spell you ignorant waste of life.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 12, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

The anonymous content on this thread is ageist bias of the most vicious type. I hope the commenter kills himself by age thirty.

Posted by: Logan's Run? | July 13, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

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