Credit Cards Soon to Be Accepted on the D.C. Metro
Frequent Metro users in Washington D.C. should be pleased to know that the company may soon offer a chance to pay for tickets with credit cards. Rather than using the dated and often faulty SmarTrip system, riders will be able to hold a credit card up to a machine to pay their fares. This could potentially reduce the congestion in the Metro and speed up the payment system at the same time.
The transition to credit card machines was first discussed in 2009, and it was scheduled to go into effect in 2011. There was an issue with the company contracted for the work though, and the option was postponed until now. Metro board members are sorting through the final round of applications for the contract, and they should soon have a company in line to do the work. Then it is just a matter of waiting.
While it will cost Metro a lot of money to start this process, it is projected to save the transit agency $30 million a year after completion. Costly repairs and frequent glitches with the current gates actually put a delay in profits in 2010 that the company is still trying to recover from. All Metro facilities will need new fare gates, central computers, and updated websites to work with the system. Metro plans to test this out in a few select locations before officially spreading credit card payments throughout the company. If there is a positive response, everything will change.
Metro is not only planning to accept credit card payments in the coming years. It is also planning to allow smartphone payments at the same fare gates. Riders with stored account information on their phones can simply hold the devices up to the gate ad gain entry. A similar system is already in use for London buses.
It may be a few years before Metro officially launches a credit card acceptance, but expect to see a change at some point. Assuming the pilot program goes well, this may soon become the standard for paying for public transit.