Smartphone Fare Cards Now Available for D.C. Metro

The future is now.

September 3, 2020, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

D.C. Metro System

Signs of the old days. | Hugo Mauricio Lopez V / Shutterstock

"[D.C.] Metro announced [Tuesday] that iPhone users will now be able to migrate existing SmarTrip cards — and add new ones — to Apple Wallet. Instead of a plastic card that’s prone to getting lost, riders will be able to tap their iPhones to enter and exit at fare gates and to get on the bus," reports Margaret Barthel. 

"The agency also rolled out an app that enables riders to add passes and value to SmarTrip cards — performing much the same job as rail station fare machines and other retail locations where riders currently perform Metro transactions," adds Barthel. 

SmarTrip cards are available for use on both Metrobus and Metrorail routes, according to the article, and will offer particular convenience to bus riders, who no longer need to go to a station, online, or to a store to reload transit fare. The benefit to Metro is expected to come in reduced costs and, potentially, new riders. 

New research documenting the benefits of mobile app fare systems was published by the Transport Research journal in July 2020. An article by Ali Winston from March 2020 documents some of the drawbacks of electronic fare payments, like concerns about data privacy and equity.

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