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Rail News: Passenger Rail

WMATA moves toward paperless fares


The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has begun enabling more than 450 existing fare vending machines to dispense SmarTrip reloadable fare cards instead of paper fares.

Last week, the agency upgraded ticket machines at Virginia stations along the Blue and Yellow lines as part of a plan to eliminate paper fares entirely, according to a WMATA news release.

The D.C.-area transit agency plans to discontinue all sales of paper fares once all machines have been upgraded. WMATA expects to finish the upgrading work by January.

Riders can use remaining paper fare cards to enter and exit the rail system until early March 2016. After that, riders can transfer the value from paper cards to SmarTrip cards at any rail station or WMATA sales office through June 2016.

"SmarTrip is faster, safer, more reliable and less costly than paper fare media," said Jim Bongiorno, WMATA's treasury technical manager.

If a SmarTrip card is lost or stolen, riders can transfer the unused value to a new card. Additionally, the new cards do not get damaged by moisture or demagnetization as paper fares did, WMATA officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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