The Washington Post

SmarTips to Swear By

The major issue of the 2012 elections was the economy. How can we control our spending? What cuts can we make without bleeding government programs dry? Will the richest Americans be willing to pony up more in taxes?

I’ll leave those questions to the folks who will be sitting on the Capitol steps Monday. But I have a couple of suggestions that can help your personal transportation budget.

For starters, if you buy a SmarTrip card, register the gosh-darned thing and get your $3 rebate. The one-time kickback that went into effect in September isn’t much, but why turn down a free ride?

The Washington Post reported Monday that of the 352,000 SmarTrip cards sold during the past four months of 2012, just 67,112 rebates had been issued as of Jan. 4. A good chunk of those cards were probably snapped up by travelers who weren’t around to claim their rebate, which pops up as a credit on your card five days later. And maybe some people are donating the cash to Metro in hopes of wrapping up the unending weekend track work. (Good luck with that.)

But there have to be some folks who just never got around to registering and claiming the rebate. If you’re one of those people, just register already. There’s an extra reason: If you lose an unregistered SmarTrip loaded with $50, it’s gone forever.

Speaking of forever, you’ll be eternally grateful for this tip. Metro’s commemorative Obama inaugural SmarTrips aren’t just keepsakes. They’re a really good deal, and it’s worth considering buying one this weekend (see box at left), even if you plan to be as far away from the swearing-in as possible.

The $15 cards, featuring the 44th president with a huge grin on his face, don’t qualify for the $3 rebate. But they come loaded with a $14 one-day pass that you can use any day, plus you can flash them at bus drivers for unlimited travel Monday.

Considering that Metro will be a massive sardine tin on Inauguration Day, you’re probably better off hitching a lift on a bus anyway. (If you’re no good at remembering routes, keep in mind that buses headed toward the action Monday will have signs in their windshields.)

So, let’s say you take the bus round-trip somewhere Monday. That’s $3.20 right there. Find a day when you’re running all over the map, and you’ll take advantage of that one-day pass. Add it up, and you’re riding on Metro’s dime.

And, just like an Obama inauguration, that may never happen again. (Maybe we’ll see you in four years, Michelle?)

Where to Get Them

The commemorative inaugural SmarTrip cards will be sold Saturday at Metro’s sales offices at Metro Center (9 a.m.-10 p.m.) and Anacostia (9 a.m.-8 p.m.) and Sunday at these nine stations (8 a.m.-3 p.m.) while supplies last:

Red Line: Glenmont, Shady Grove, Union Station

Green Line: Branch Ave., Greenbelt

Orange Line: New Carrollton, Vienna

Blue Line: Franconia-Springfield, Largo Town Center

Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.



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