The old "weekly pass," fondly remembered by a generation of Washington streetcar and bus riders, was restored - in undated form - this week by Metro.
The panel above shows 10 of the imaginative designs for the passes that were issued by the Capital Transit Co. every week between 1933 and 1955. Costing only $1 a week when first issued, they permitted unlimited riding within the city. Suburban trips cost extra. Metro's new "flash pass" permits subway riding up to a specified dollar value plus unlimited bus riding. Three versions of the flash pass, issued for D.C. and the suburbs, cost between $10 and $16 for a two-week period.
The weekly pass in the upper left of the panel was the first one issued. The colonial gentleman taking a deep bow symbolizes a welcome to its customers by the new Capital Transit Co., which was formed Dec. 1, 1933, by the merger of two previous companies.
For the next 22 years, commuters bought the passes each week to get to and from work, and let spouses or children use them to go shopping or on recreational trips.
The passes were so popular that it was fairly rare to hear the tinkle of coins being dropped into fare boxes, especially in rush hours. Economic pressures forced an end to the passes in 1955. In 1956, a new company, D.C. Transit, took over and ran the buses until Metro came on the scene in 1973. The last streetcars ran in 1962.
Through the years, the designs of the passes were used to advertise civic events, promote Community Chest and War Bond sale drives, recognize holidays, observe presidential birthdays and historic events and to encourage visits (by whites only in those days of segeration) to Glen Echo amusement park, which Capital Transit owned and which was reached by a scenic trolley ride along the Potomac palisades.