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Reload SmarTrip Cards at Stores Regionwide

I think many transit users in the Washington region will see this as a breakthrough: More and more local pharmacy and food stores are allowing you to add value to your SmarTrip cards without going to a Metrorail station or commuter store, or standing by the fare box machine on a bus.

In months past -- especially since the paper transfers were eliminated in January and bus riders really needed to get SmarTrip cards -- transit users have complained to me that there aren't enough places to reload value onto the cards. It was either a Metrorail station or a bus. (Ever watch someone do that on a bus?)

It's a big region. Lots of Metrobus passengers who use SmarTrip don't find themselves anywhere near a Metrorail station. And lots of bus riders use the suburban lines, such as Fairfax Connector and Ride On, which followed Metro's lead in January and eliminated the paper transfers in favor of free transfers with SmarTrip cards.

At this point, Metro says, there are 1.7 million active SmarTrip cards, and more than half of Metrobus trips and almost three-quarters of Metrorail trips are paid for with them.

Something had to give, and Metro has been working on that with CVS and Giant. More than 100 stores now have small machines that can handle the add-value transactions.
Right now, most of the machines are at CVS/pharmacy stores, but Giant is in a testing phase and -- if it works out -- will have 50 locations available for card transactions during the summer. (You can use cash or credit cards to add value.)

Use this link to find a list of the stores where you can do this.

By Robert Thomson  |  June 16, 2009; 3:02 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, SmarTrip, WMATA, bus, subway, train  
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I find this useful but what about SmartBenefits? My employer gives me enough that I don't have to pay out of my own pocket for metro. Are we ever going to get more machines either inside or outside of Metro stations that can dispense SmartBenefits?

Posted by: KilmarockCommuter | June 16, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: KilmarockCommuter, yes. There will be more machines. I've been calling for that too, since the demand for SmarTrip cards increased in January and we started to see longer lines at the relatively few machines that can handle the SmarTrip transactions. Getting more of those upgraded fare machines is one of the things that federal stimulus money is going to.

Posted by: rtthomson1 | June 16, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Excellent! I've seen many people try to load money at the farebox on the bus when the driver isn't paying attention and they do something wrong and end up losing $$. Not to mention a lot of people need to add $10 on monday mornings at the busiest stops, while they're at the front of the line...

Posted by: anoel | June 16, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Unbelievable. There is a huge internet out there, and what does Metro come up with? "Let's let people load their cards at CVS!"

Metro, seriously. How about online reloads? Are you seriously this stupid?

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe | June 17, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

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