Metro is reminding customers that, beginning Monday, January 8, SmarTrip® cards will not allow “negative balances” on Metrorail and Metrobus. Customers are reminded to resolve any negative balances on their cards, and ensure that they have adequate funds to pay for their travel.
Customers are encouraged to sign up for Auto Reload through their SmarTrip account to ensure that they always have funds on their SmarTrip card. Auto Reload automatically adds value whenever a card’s balance drops below $10.
Less than one percent of customers traveling on Metro this week had a negative balance. However, since SmarTrip’s launch in the late 1990s, unresolved negative balances have added up to approximately $25 million in lost revenue for Metro that could have been used to fund rail and bus service.
Starting Monday, if a Metrorail customer has a negative balance on their SmarTrip card the faregate will not open even if there is a valid pass on the card. Customers will be directed to a fare machine to load additional value. On Metrobus, if a customer’s SmarTrip card has insufficient funds to pay for the trip the farebox will buzz and additional fare will need to be loaded onto the card.
SmartBenefits® customers and rail pass users (e.g. SelectPass, DC Student Passes, One Day Pass, Seven Day Passes) should check to ensure that their “stored value” purse is not showing a negative balance. To check, tap your card at a fare vending machine or log in to your SmarTrip account to check your personal stored value.
Metro has done extensive customer outreach since announcing this change in November, including sending email reminders to all registered SmarTrip card holders, as well as all SmartBenefits and rail pass users with a negative balance.