Metro almost out of commemorative SmarTrip cards

January 20, 2013

Metro said Sunday that it has nearly sold out of its commemorative inaugural SmarTrip cards that have a picture of President Obama on them.

The transit agency ordered 100,000 of the cards and started selling the $15 cards right after the election.

Only a few thousand of the commemorative cards were still available at Metro Center as of 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Once those are gone, that’s it, Metro officials said.

In 2009, Metro ordered 200,000 of the commemorative cards for the inauguration but still has 20,000-30,000 left.

As of 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Metro Center — one of nine locations selling the commemorative cards — had sold 7,000 in one day.

For this year’s inauguration, Metro is also selling a $14 one-day pass that can be used for unlimited rides on the train and bus systems.

But officials are warning riders that once they start using the one-day pass, it must be used in that same day. Some riders have reportedly been confused, thinking they could add money to the card and use it today and again tomorrow at the inauguration.

“It’s use it or lose it in the same day,” said Dan Stessel, Metro’s chief spokesman, of the $14 on the pass.

So if riders use the card today, they would need to add more money to it tomorrow, he explained.

Metro has been pushing riders to use SmarTrip cards rather than paper cards. Paper fare cards cost more and tend to take longer to get through fare gates.

Transit agency officials said they are not expecting the record crowd that came to Washington for Obama’s 2009 swearing-in, when they had 1.1 million riders on Metro’s rail system. This year, Metro planners are estimating a crowd of 500,000 to 800,000 for Monday’s inauguration activities.

Riders are being warned to expect crowds at stations and on platforms and to allow for plenty of time — and patience — to get to inauguration events. Smithsonian, Archives and Mount Vernon Square will be closed.

Follow me on Twitter @postmetrogirl.

Dana Hedgpeth is the Washington Post’s lead reporter in covering the Metro rail and bus systems in the D.C. region and the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) that runs them.
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Dana Hedgpeth | January 19, 2013