Talkin’ Transit: SmarTrip Getting Smarter!

Photo courtesy of
‘Metro SmarTrip Card’ courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been waiting for the day when I’d be able to reload my SmarTrip card somewhere other than a Metro station.  For those of us who ride buses regularly, it’s really frustrating to have to go to a Metro station to add value to a card when you’re just trying to take the bus somewhere.  But there’s great news coming from Metro: later this year, we’ll be able to add value to SmarTrip cards online!

In an effort to improve customer service, Metro will create a self-service SmarTrip website, which will allow us to load value onto our SmarTrip cards electronically.  There will also be a fantastic ‘autoload’ feature that will automatically reload the card when the balance drops below a designated amount. The new website will include a way to see recent transaction data for your SmarTrip card (currently only available through a formal Public Access to Record Policy request, or by stealing a glance at the screen when the station manager scans your card in the kiosk).

This focus on customer service comes about three months after Metro initiated its bus-transfer-by-SmarTrip-card-only policy.  Now riders can only get the bus-to-rail and rail-to-bus transfer discount, and bus-to-bus free transfer, by using a SmarTrip card.  This has led to a significant increase in the use of SmarTrip cards– Metro tells us that 58 percent of Metrobus riders and 72 percent of Metrorail riders use them.  People can now buy SmarTrip cards at select Giant and CVS stores across town too.  All good things.  Thanks Metro!

Photo courtesy of
‘tunnel’ courtesy of ‘volcanojw’

And just when we were starting to really love Metro again, it’s time for another round of weekend track maintenance on the Red, Orange and Blue lines.  Here’s the run-down:

Red Line: Customers traveling between Fort Totten and Silver Spring should add 30 minutes of travel time between 10 PM on Friday to midnight on Sunday due to single tracking for track replacement outside the Takoma station.

Orange / Blue Lines: Customers traveling between Eastern Market and Stadium-Armory should add 30 minutes of travel time between 7 AM and 7 PM on Saturday and Sunday due to single tracking for bridge maintenance.

Shannon grew up in the greater DC area/Maryland suburbs, went to Virginia for college and grad school (go Hoos!), and settled in DC in 2006. She’s an urban planner who loves transit (why yes, that is her dressed as a Metro pylon for Halloween), cities, and all things DC. Email her at Shannon (at)!

7 thoughts on “Talkin’ Transit: SmarTrip Getting Smarter!

  1. FYI, you can add value to a Smarttrip on a bus… you just can only do it w/ cash, not credit card.

  2. Alicia, I had no idea about that! Here I am making unnecessary trips to Metro stations that are completely out of my way. That’s really cool, thanks for letting me know!

  3. Yeah, you know the white button on the left hand side next to the sensor? That’s the “reload button.” Hit that before you swipe. Then swipe your card on the sensor, feed your money into the money slot, hit the white button again and then swipe. It will tell you how much money you now have on your card. Swipe one more time to pay the bus driver. It sounds like it takes awhile, but I just bring a $20, and it takes maybe 10 seconds. Not even long enough to annoy the person waiting behind you.

  4. I have wished for a web-view for the SmarTrip cards for *EVER*! This is super awesome, and I hope it’s up and running sooner rather than later. Hooray for auto-refills!

  5. Something’s wrong… something sensible from Metro? There has to be more to it than that, it makes too much sense to be one of their ideas…

    Definitely good news though. Nothing sucks more than realizing my card is low and not being able to do anything about it because I don’t carry cash. :(