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Rail News: Passenger Rail

WMATA replenishes SmarTrip card supply

When Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) switched to a SmarTrip-only parking payment system in late June, officials didn’t anticipate that a resurgance in D.C.-area tourism would help push ridership to record levels and gobble up the supply of SmarTrip cards.

However, card supplier Giesecke & Devrient GmbH recently increased production and the authority is receiving enough cards to meet demand. WMATA expects to receive another one million cards next month.

While cards were in short supply, customers were allowed to pay parking fees with paper farecards, but WMATA suspended Internet card sales. Now, customers must pay with the SmarTrip card and Internet sales have resumed.

Prior to the start of the cashless parking payment program, card sales averaged 8,000 per month. Since June 28, monthly sales have averaged 90,000.

The authority decided to switch to the cashless payment system after an internal audit of WMATA parking operations revealed suspected revenue shortfalls. Parking lot operator Penn Parking employees were suspected of pocketing some cash parking fares. The smart-card payment system eliminates parking lot cashiers.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/20/2004