November 25, 2008

WMATA: Phasing out paper transfers

We received word recently about WMATA's upcoming phaseout of paper transfers on our public transportation systems. It may seem like a minor change, but for our clientele, changes like this can be really significant.

Take a look at the details as spelled out in the letter:

Dear Social Service Agency:

As you may know, beginning January 4, 2009, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) will no longer issue or accept paper transfers for travel in the Metro system.

As of that date, customers will need a SmarTrip® card to make free bus-to-bus transfers or to transfer from Metrorail to Metrobus or Metrobus to Metrorail for a discounted fare. In addition, the time period during which transfers are valid will increase, from two to three hours.

The Metro Board authorized this change to speed boardings, to cut operating costs, and to help guard against abuse of paper transfers. The decision also reaffirms Metro’s continuing effort to encourage wider use of the SmarTrip® card as the region’s transit fare medium.

To help you and your clients make this transition more smoothly, during the month of December only, Metro will sell your organization SmarTrip® cards pre-loaded with a fare value equal to one bus trip, or $1.25 per card — or 10 cents less than the price of a $1.35 bus token. The card itself will be free. This means you will be purchasing a reusable SmarTrip® card with fare valued at $6.25, with the ability to transfer free, for only $1.25. To arrange a purchase of these special SmarTrip® cards, please contact Brenda McDonald, Supervisor of Fare Distribution and Sales, at 202-962-5702 or

Tokens will still be available after January 4 at their usual $1.35 cost and can be used to board buses. However, to receive free bus-to-bus transfers and discounted Metrobus-to-Metrorail transfers, customers must add the token value to a SmarTrip® card. They can make this fare conversion on any bus at the farebox.

In addition, Metro will host three informative SmarTrip® orientations to give you simple hands-on training on how to add a token’s value to a SmarTrip® card. The training will help you show your clients the functionality and benefits of SmarTrip®. We strongly encourage you to attend one of the following orientations:

· Tuesday, December 9, 2008 from 9 to 11 a.m. or 1 to 3 p.m.
· Tuesday, December 16, 2008 from 9 to 11 a.m.

These sessions will take place at Metro’s Jackson Graham Building, at 600 Fifth Street NW, Washington, DC. Please RSVP to Melissa Buia by Tuesday, December 2, 2008 at or 202-962-2314.

We are committed to providing you with all the information you need during this transition, and we appreciate your cooperation.


Sara Procacci Wilson
Assistant General Manager
Corporate Strategy & Communications

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