City Desk

Soon, You’ll Be Able to Refill Your SmarTrip Card on the Street

There's a better than 7 percent chance that you're the one holding up the Metrobus as you fumble with your change trying to reload your SmarTrip card just as people are trying to board at a busy intersection.

Fortunately, you may soon be able to take care of your finances on the street.

Metro is considering installing SmarTrip refill stations on District streets in an attempt to mitigate the lines that form when people add money to their cards on the buses.

In June 2014, Metro will install 14 devices along 16th Street NW to test out the concept, PlanItMetro, WMATA's planning blog, reported last week.  These stops were selected because they have serve a lot of people who refill their cards on buses with just enough money to carry them through one or two bus rides.

The blog reports that about one out of every 14 trips on Metrobus involves a small value load, and on some routes it is as frequent as one out of every seven riders, which ultimately delays the buses.

The machines will be solar powered, will accept cash or credit, and will help keep the buses running on time.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • Jean Marcus

    This is great and more convenient for the commuters. And people could have an easy access on refilling their smartrip card.

  • Kathy Jentz, Washington Gardener Magazine

    I wish they would install these machines near the bus zones at below-ground stations like Wheaton, Friendship Heights, etc. When catching a bus from one of these, it is a real PITA to go all the way down and back just to refill a card.

    Of course, the ideal solution would be to be able to check on and refill your card in REAL time via credit card through a web page/smart phone app.

    PS And why is it that the folks who push on board first are inevitably those who need to re-up their cards - causing everyone else to wait outside in the rain/cold? Re-loaders should step back and board last.

  • Purify

    Why spend more money on infrastructure when the ease of paying with things like a smartphone are increasing on a daily basis. It seems that these machines are only going to really help a small percentage of the riders, whereas if they cleaned up their online payment capabilities, it would have a much broader reach at a lower cost. I know metro has trouble moving on from the 20th century, but its time.

    If metro really wanted to stop people from paying on the bus, just stop letting people pay on the bus and use one of the many other ways to pay that don't jam others up.

  • PCC

    @Purify: the people who use cash on board the bus are not likely to be the same people who will pay using smartphones or online. Not everyone has the same access to the banking system as you.

  • John

    For some reason when you reload your card online it takes several days for it to actually complete the transaction? what I do is I picked the auto reload feature, it automatically reloads a specific amount to your card on a weekly basis. So my card never runs out.