Metro and the District Department of Transportation plan to launch a pilot program this month to move student transit passes to an electronic identification card, similar to the SmarTrip card.
The D.C. One Card will contain a chip with ID information and could be used to restrict students’ access to the Metro system.
However, DDOT spokesman John Lisle said that is not the intent of the program, although the possibility exists if someone makes that decision later. Lisle said the new cards could be easily replaced if they are lost.
The issue was discussed in February during a Metro board meeting as a possible way of curtailing crime committed by young people. Metro Transit Police have said that the growth in crime on Metro’s trains and buses is partially attributable to snatch-and-grab robberies committed by youth. Serious crime on Metro hit a five-year high in 2010. Concerns have also arisen over high-profile fights by young people in the system.
The pilot program would begin in phases, first with about 500 students at the School Without Walls in Northwest Washington and expanding to some D.C. summer school students.
If the D.C. One Card program is successful it would be implemented in phases this fall for high school and middle school students, Metro said.
“The D.C. One Card allows District of Columbia residents to access schools, D.C. government facilities and programs as well as the Metro transit system — all with the same card,” said Tommy Wells, a D.C. council and Metro board member.
The cards already can be used by adults and children to access some city services and facilities.
The current passes allow students to travel on Metro’s trains and buses for about half the cost of a regular fare. The District pays the difference.
The District already has a curfew law in place for people younger than 17 that varies by time of the year and day of the week.