Metro wants to expand its U-Pass program for university students, extending the pilot program at American University and potentially signing on five other schools to participate.
The one-year pilot program launched last fall, when Metro partnered with AU to sign up 10,000 students for discounted Metro passes. Now, Metro wants to extend the one-year test run, continuing American’s participation through the 2017-2018 academic year.
The transit agency is looking to add other universities to the program. Metro has received “varying degrees of interest” from officials at George Washington University, the University of the District of Columbia, the University of Maryland, Georgetown University, and Catholic University of America, according to documents released in advance of Thursday’s Metro board meeting.
The board is expected to approve the extension of the partnership with American University.
Under American’s agreement with Metro, all full-time undergraduate, graduate and law students are required to buy a U-Pass all-access SmarTrip card, which costs $130 per academic semester — about $1 per day for the duration of the school year.
According to Metro, the partnership with AU has brought in $2.3 million for the agency since last summer, and likely contributed to last year’s 10 percent increase in ridership along the Tenleytown corridor. Officials at American have already agreed to continue the program in the coming academic year, if the Metro board approves it.
Metro also highlighted the fact that 60 percent of student rides occurred during off-peak periods, when there’s plenty of capacity on buses and Red Line trains to accommodate extra riders.
If the program becomes permanent and brings on other universities in the region, Metro might consider changing the fare structure — perhaps adjusting the $1-per-day price tag, or allowing for a weekend-only version of the U-Pass that has been requested by some university representatives.