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People Rushing to Buy Fare Cards

The only place I've seen serious congestion today is around the fare vending machines in Metro stations, particularly around the ones that add value to SmarTrip cards and dispense passes. (Metro should have more of them.)

People are standing on line today for two reasons:
* Some want to spare themselves the hassle of waiting on even longer lines on Inauguration Day, so they're getting enough Metro fare to cover them for the entire day. The regular vending machines are dispensing commemorative paper fare cards, and the SmarTrip vending machines at stations where Metro provides parking are dispensing regular SmarTrip cards for $5.

* Some just want the souvenir. But the $10 and $20 commemorative SmarTrip cards are not for sale in the stations. (Don't wait on those vending machine lines for those cards.)

Because of the demand for them, the Metro sales offices have extended their hours.

The sales office in the Metro Center Station is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and Tuesday. The sales office at the Pentagon Transit Center is open from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. today and Tuesday. Other Metro sales offices are closed through Tuesday, resuming normal hours on Wednesday.

There's other stuff, too. Metro's commemorative Metrorail one-day pass with a special Inauguration design is being sold for $7.80 today at the sales offices and fare vending machines, but the price for that will go up to $10 on Tuesday. Metro also will be selling a one-day bus pass for $5 on Tuesday. Buy that from the drivers.

As of Friday, Metro had sold 72,000 commemorative SmarTrip cards and 46,000 commemorative one-day passes.

By Robert Thomson  |  January 19, 2009; 1:57 PM ET
Categories:  Inauguration  
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