American University adds SmarTrip to bookstore

Students at American University won’t have to dig into their pockets for cash for Metro fare, after administrators and Metro officials reached an agreement allowing AU to sell and replenish SmarTrip cards in their bookstore.

The sale of SmarTrip cards in the bookstore gives students the option of reloading cards with their Eagle Bucks – funds loaded onto AU Identification Cards that are similar to Colonial Cash. The cards can be reloaded at the bookstore.

AU tested ID cards with SmarTrip capability last year, but the SmarTrip cards that are being sold now are separate from the IDs.

GW officials have been quiet about whether or not technology exists to allow Colonial Cash to be used for Metro fare, only saying that the University has not discussed the option with Metro officials.

“We have not been in discussions with WMATA on this topic,” University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said Tuesday.

A Metro official said GW could offer a similar arrangement for students, but the University has not approached the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to negotiate a contract.

Any freestanding institution can seek a contract to sell SmarTrip cards, the official, who requested not to be named since he was not authorized to comment, said. The official, who deals directly with vendor contracts for SmarTrip, said Metro welcomes new vendors.

“If someone of GW contacted me, I would just see what their needs are and we’d take it from there,” he said. “We welcome [new contracts], in fact we prefer it because it’s more convenient.”

GW Bookstore manager Bob Blake said he wasn’t opposed to the possibility of doing so.

“I’ve never been approached for anything like that before,” he said, adding, “We definitely wouldn’t be opposed to [selling SmarTrip cards].”

Using a SmarTrip saves customers 25 cents per Metro trip over paper farecards, and reduces Metrobus fare by 20 cents per ride.

SmarTrip cards are currently sold at “more than 300 retail outlets” including CVS, according to a news release by WMATA.

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