SmarTrip: Benefit or Not?

On Jan. 4, Metro Authority decided to discontinue paper transfers to decrease or eliminate the assault that many bus drivers have been facing.

“I have been driving the bus for about three years and I am constantly having to argue with riders who try to use outdated transfer slips,” said Sheryl Jones, “This change has really eased a burden on my shoulders and I really appreciate it.”

According to a Washington City Paper press release Cathy Asato a spokesperson for Metro, said doing away with paper transfers will promote better use of technology and the ability to collect more fares. “We hope to see disputes between riders and operators about transfers, go away,” Asato said.

For those upset about the loss of bus transfers, the Smartrip may help. SmarTrip cards have become the newest and fastest way to pay for bus and train transportation since 2004. A SmarTrip card can hold up to $300 and riders will receive a free transfer from bus-to-bus and will receive a 90-cent discount if transferring from rail-to-bus. Also, with the SmarTrip regular bus fare is discounted from $1.35 to $1.25 with no transfer at all.

However, the change doesn’t suit all public transportation passengers because it does not offer a discount for riders traveling from bus-to-rail. “I take the bus to the train home everyday and the new discount with the SmarTrip is something that I have been wanting for a long time,” said Channon Mitchel, a regular metro rider from Takoma Park.

Adrienne Gaspar agrees, “I just don’t think it’s fair that this SmarTrip deal benefits everyone except people who have to take the bus and transfer to a train,” said the Northwest District resident. “The system should work both ways and be equally as beneficial on both sides.”

In the past, riders used paper transfers to their advantage, sometimes riding the bus all day while paying the fare only once.

“I have lived in D.C. all my life, so I know the ins and outs of the metro system and I have been guilty of paying for the bus at the start of my day and using my transfer to ride the bus all day long,” said Chidibere Ukaegbu of Northwest, D.C.

Despite the drawbacks, passenger Cati Sporague of northwest D.C. said she appreciates SmarTrip cards because it saves time.

“A SmarTrip card is the best way to go because not only does it save us time in line to get on the bus, but it saves us money as well. So it’s a win-win situation,” said Sporague, who takes the metro to and from work everyday to Silver Spring. “At the end of the day, this was a good decision on the behalf of the Metro Authority for both local residents and transit employees.”