No more negative balances on SmarTrip cards

The days of skating past the fare gate with a negative balance on your SmarTrip card are over. Starting today (Monday), SmarTrip cards will not allow negative balances on Metrorail and Metrobus. That means your card needs to be paid up before you set foot on the Metro system.

The new policy was announced last November.

Metro says customers should sign up for Auto Reload, which automatically adds value whenever a card’s balance drops below $10. You know, just like your EZPass.

Less than one percent of customers traveling on Metro this week had a negative balance, Metro said in a news release. However, since SmarTrip’s launch in the late 1990s, unresolved negative balances have added up to approximately $25 million in lost revenue for Metro.

From now on, if a Metrorail customer has a negative balance on their SmarTrip card the faregate will not open even if there is a valid pass on the card. Customers will be directed to a fare machine to load additional value. On Metrobus, if a customer’s SmarTrip card has insufficient funds to pay for the trip the farebox will buzz and additional fare will need to be loaded onto the card.

SmartBenefits customers and rail pass users (e.g. SelectPass, DC Student Passes, One Day Pass, Seven Day Passes) should check to ensure that their “stored value” purse is not showing a negative balance. To check, tap your card at a fare vending machine or log in to your SmarTrip account to check your personal stored value.



About the Author

Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.