Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Metro looking for tech firm to help replace SmarTrip system

December 30, 2010 - 11:08 AM
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(Photo: Jay Westcott)

This is one we could've seen coming. Metro has issued a request for proposals today in its search for a tech firm that can help the agency replace its SmarTrip fare system.

We've known for a few months that the clock may be ticking on SmarTrip. Board chairman Peter Benjamin has said that the company responsible for SmarTrip technology will not be manufacturing the necessary goods forever, and that the agency has about two years' worth of cards in its stockpile. It's been clear from past board meetings that Metro hopes its next fare system will let you swipe your credit card at the gate, rather than a separate Metro card that needs to be refilled periodically at fare machines.

According to Metro, they're looking for a firm that can help them develop a system that uses "contactless, chip-enabled debit and credit cards, which banks are already distributing to customers; federal identification cards; or smart phones equipped with near-field communication capability; as well as existing SmarTrip® cards."

Good old SmarTrip will be in place until they can develop a replacement. And even then, it may still be around. Agency spokeswoman Angela Gates says the new system will just be an additional method of fare payment, so the 1.8 million SmarTrip cards out there probably have a few more years left in them.

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