Students to receive Metro SmarTrip cards
D.C. students will begin using SmarTrip cards this summer to ride public transportation free — a change that city leaders said is intended to make boarding the region’s trains and buses more efficient for the District’s 92,000 public school students.
For years, traditional public and charter school students have used DC One fare cards — which serve as an all-in-one student identification, library card and Metro pass — to board public transit.
But students, educators and city leaders have complained that those cards are complicated to activate, resulting in people not using them properly.
Because the District doesn’t have school buses, students ride public transit free. Still, they have to tap their DC One cards to board Metro trains or buses so the city can monitor how many are using the system, which helps the agency qualify for more federal funding.
“There was a barrier that resulted in kids not properly activating their cards, or not knowing they had to activate them, which inadvertently led to students just flashing them,” said Ahnna Smith, the city’s interim deputy mayor of education. “Our goal is to get kids to school safely and on time every day.”
Private school students who live in the District also receive free transit cards to use on buses. The revamped Kids Ride Free program will cost the city $12.2 million next year, which includes the cost of the SmarTrip cards.
City leaders say that 32,000 students activated their DC One cards this academic year. The office of the deputy mayor of education said it suspects that not all students who used public transit this academic year properly activated their DC One cards, so it estimates that more than 32,000 students will use the SmarTrip cards.
The new cards will look similar to the Metro’s standard SmarTrip cards, but they will have a sticker designating them as student passes.