Metro announced Wednesday that it is making changes to the reusable farecard known as SmarTrip, no longer allowing the cards to have a negative balance.
In the past, SmarTrip users could exit the station with an insufficient fare, but a new exit-rule will prevent that from happening. Users with an insufficient balance will be able to add money to their cards on machines within the gates, however the machines will only accept cash.
“In order to introduce the change, Metro must make technological upgrades to implement a new fare gate exit rule requiring SmarTrip® card users to have full fare value on their cards when they exit the Metrorail system. Those upgrades are expected to be complete by early fall, at which time the price of SmarTrip® cards will drop,” the release states.
This fall, the cost of buying the SmarTrip card will be reduced to $2.50 from $5, and a morning rush hour 20 cent surcharge will be added to riders’ fares.
Metro said about 75 percent of Metrorail riders and 60 percent of Metrobus riders use SmarTrip cards, which allow Metrorail riders to save 25 cents a trip and Metrobus riders to save 20 cents a trip.