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Metro Awards $184 Million Contract for Futuristic Fare Collection System

metroMetro riders: You're one step closer to being able to swipe through turnstiles with your credit card, ID, or phone. The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority just announced that it's awarded a $184 million contract to the technology and consulting firm Accenture to replace the fare collection systems for Metro's rail, bus, parking, and van facilities.

The new system, according to WMATA, will be equipped to accept chip-enabled credit cards, federal government IDs, and cell phones for fare payment, as well as SmarTrip cards.

“While Metro pioneered the tap and go system we currently use, by today’s standards that system is cumbersome and the technology is not sustainable,” said Metro General Manager Richard Sarles in a statement. “The new technology will provide more flexibility for accounts, better reliability for riders, and real choices for customers to use bank-issued payment cards, credit cards, ID cards, or mobile phones to pay their Metro fares.”

The award to Accenture came after a "competitive procurement process that included an examination of the technical capabilities of the shortlisted companies and their proposals, historical performance, and value for money," according to a WMATA press release.

Accenture will conduct a pilot program of the new system later this year in 10 Metro stations, on 50 Metrobuses, and in two Metro parking lots. Two thousand Metro riders will be selected to test the new system.

The new fare payment system, when fully installed, will no longer accept paper farecards, which fewer than one in 10 Metro riders currently use, according to WMATA.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Mrs. D

    Is there some way to contract for a "futuristic system" that causes trains and buses to operate at predictable intervals consistent with demand?

  • TeganAnn

    Great idea but the statement by WMATA means they have unrealistic expectations on what a new system can and can't do. First the US is the last country to get chips http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-12-23/why-the-u-dot-s-dot-leaves-its-credit-card-system-vulnerable-to-fraud

    2nd, I would never use my gov ID, if I had one to swipe. That is too big of a risk because I have no faith in their internal security to keep that information safe.

    Also its not "futuristic" technology, most other countries do this, its just technology.

  • Sonja

    WMATA - once again, you do not get it. We want trains & buses that run on schedule. We want trains with doors that close. We want a speaker system that functions. We don't want rails to break. We would like an end of the BS. Try that first.

  • Unsuck DC Metro

    Great reporting. Might have been nice to include this little gem in the piece:


  • JC

    TeganAnn, I think the article is a little off, and they mean the tap and pay systems and not chip+Signature or chip+PIN like Europe. If it's chip+PIN, think of the lines.

    Second, WMATA just integrated smart trip with Circulator and ART and DASH, what is the need to switch it now?

    Third, WMATA promised a system that you "just walked through". What we got was the tap and pay system McDonald's has.

    Fourth, $186M? ~$50,000 per device? I hope that includes installation, materials and testing of the full deployment.

  • http://davidgaines.com David Gaines

    Sure I want better service and doors that close and no delays but...

    I also like what Metro is doing here regardless if some other countries beat us to it.

    Can I be one of the 2000 to test it?

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