Senior Citizen's SmarTrip Quest A Bumpy Ride

By Robert Thomson
Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I made four phone calls, each Metro person giving me a different phone number, before I reached someone who told me that I would be able to buy a Senior SmarTrip card at a CVS. Fat chance.

CVS didn't know what I was talking about; they had regular SmarTrips only. I take one of the many S buses on 16th Street NW to go to doctor's appointments downtown, getting a transfer to get me closer. I have never been to Metro Center and have therefore never had a SmarTrip because that was the only place you could buy one.

I have upon occasion used the Metro trains and have had to pay full fare. I can't be the only senior inconvenienced by this inane policy of where you must go to purchase a senior citizen SmarTrip card!

Now that paper transfers will no longer be issued, I was hoping that Metro would have the intelligence to think about the inconvenience faced by senior citizens in obtaining a senior citizen SmarTrip.

If you know of any other solution than having to go to Metro Center to get the Senior SmarTrip card, I would appreciate knowing about it. In addition, if I ever am able to obtain the Senior Citizen SmarTrip card, how will I be able to add money to it when I take buses only?

Carole N. Frankel Washington

On this page, readers will find advice on what to do as of today, when Metro stops issuing paper transfers, but I want to highlight this letter writer's concern, because I think the switch will be particularly difficult for some older travelers.

Senior citizens are entitled to ride for half the regular fare on Metrorail, for 60 cents on regular Metrobus routes and at a discount on other participating bus services.

The paper transfers gave everyone a free ride when they switched from one Metrobus to another. Without the paper, the way to get the free ride is to use a SmarTrip card, which automatically records the transfer. But many people still carry the senior ID cards that Metro stopped issuing in June. Without the SmarTrip, there's no more free ride; seniors would pay the 60 cents every time they board a Metrobus.

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