Android users can now use their phones to pay for rides on the Metro following the release of a virtual SmarTrip card for Google Pay Tuesday.
The new feature allows users to hold their phone next to a card reader for any station, bus or parking lot to pay for their trip with Google Pay, according to a press release from the agency Tuesday. Metro officials first debuted the digital utility last September, adding the virtual card to Apple Wallet for iPhone users to tap for access to the Metrorail and Metrobus.
“This breakthrough means our customers can now pay to ride Metro as easily as they buy coffee with their phones,” Metro General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld said in the release. “It’s an investment in the future of Metro, as we modernize our system to incorporate many new technologies.”
Metro officials said they intended to release the app for Android users in November, but the testing process took longer than expected, The Washington Post reported.
Metro riders must have Android phones with near field communication – a form of wireless technology – and Android OS version 5 or newer software installed to use SmarTrip with Google Pay, according to Metro’s website. Mobile users with software dating back to Android OS version 9 can also use the SmarTrip app to purchase new cards, add money and buy weekly or monthly Metro passes, the website states.
Metro officials said they will waive the $2 fee to purchase a SmarTrip card fee for riders who purchase one through Google Pay during the first six months of its launch.
Metro Board Chair Paul Smedberg said the “touch-free experience” will serve as a new improvements for riders returning to public transportation as D.C. continues to reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Metro has seen ridership plummet since the onset of the pandemic due to stay at home orders, public health concerns and business closures.
“This is part of our commitment to better serve riders and to assure them that when riders are ready, Metro will be there to welcome them back,” Smedberg said in the release.