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Charging a SmartTrip card with a metro ticket and bus pass

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Charging a SmartTrip card with a metro ticket and bus pass

Hi, we will be visiting Washington for 7 days, located near Logan Circle.

On arrival we intend to get the Washington Flyer from Dulles to the West Falls metro then a single metro fare to get us near our stay. But the day after we were looking to buy the 7-Day Regional Bus Pass ($16) as this seems to fit our needs of simply getting to the museums, zoo etc. and back again each day.

I have looked on the wmta website and it states that SmarTrip card dispensers are available at all Metrorail stations and they sell SmarTrip cards for $10: $2 for the card itself and $8 in fare value. It also says any 'pass value' will be used before fare value.

So, ideally I would like to add a single metro trip and the $16 bus pass but can this be done using the SmarTrip card/card dispenser? Can I buy the card when I arrive, charge it up by adding $10.75 with a single metro trip and the bus pass then use the metro first (not using the bus pass on this day) and the bus pass from the second day for 7 days?

Alternatively, to make it simpler I could just buy a paper ticket for the metro then the SmartTrip card for the bus on the next day, but can the $8 fare value on the card be used for the bus pass?

I hope I haven't confused everyone too much...

Washington DC...
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1. Re: Charging a SmartTrip card with a metro ticket and bus pass

I am not sure this is part of what you are asking, but the Washington Flyer bus does not accept the SmarTrip card as far as I know. That is a separate ticket.

You will not be able to use the $8 value to pay part of your bus pass. But sometime during your stay a ride on Metro will be your best option and you will need it.

Washington DC...
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2. Re: Charging a SmartTrip card with a metro ticket and bus pass

Looks like you can only add a bus pass online or at a special office: www.wmata.com/fares/purchase/passes.cfm

And no, you cannot use stored value, those $8, towards a purchase of the bus pass. I just tried adding the pass online to my card, and even though I had $18, it still asked me for my credit card to charge an extra $16.

So it might be easier for you to not even bother with a bus pass (most people don't), and just put $20 on the card and top it up as you go. You can add value to it at any metro station (card or cash) or on the bus (cash only).

Washington DC...
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3. Re: Charging a SmartTrip card with a metro ticket and bus pass

If you plan to mostly ride buses for your visit, I think the bus pass will be a good thing for you. It will certainly save money even if you only make one round-trip per day. And that value on the SmarTrip card will give you a couple Metro train rides too.

Olney, Maryland
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4. Re: Charging a SmartTrip card with a metro ticket and bus pass

I doubt that you will want to spend all your time taking buses once you look at the schedules. Some buses run every 20 or 25 minutes. The only frequent ones are the 30s, and the Circulator and the 42. Everything else has a pretty bad schedule.

Also, using pay-per-ride, once you get on one bus, you can get on any other bus for free for the next two hours, you won't be spending all that much. And if you take buses all the time, you won't see much of Washington, either.

I've lived here 40 years. The bus system is confusing and somewhat infrequent. I doubt that you will know how to get very far on the system. It is an amalgam of the streetcar system of the 1930s and suburban private bus companies. Sometimes it's good, often it's really for residents who know where they are going. And you need a pass for each person, no matter what. So you will be putting $8 on every card and will not using it. Buy your cards at W. Falls Church at least, to use some of the money on the rail line into DC.

Remember, every train ride then gets you a bus ride in the next 2 hours for a discount; every bus ride after the first is free for two hours; every transfer from bus to train within 2 hours gets you a discount, too.

Many DC places (like 2/3 of the monuments) are not at all near a bus stop, and often not that near a train stop either. And only a few buses go near the musuems, like 70, 32, 36, 52, 54, S2, S4, A2 (and NOT the 31, L2, 80, 82, 64, 92, 38B, any Circulator, 42, and any bus beginning with a letter other than S and A, or any bus in VIrginia) .

It's almost as bad as figuring out which bus in London you want to take, even though DC isn't all that big.

Edited: 08 May 2014, 18:06
Washington DC...
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5. Re: Charging a SmartTrip card with a metro ticket and bus pass

But Logan Circle is very convenient to the 52/54 - the 14th st bus line. It comes very often, at least every 10 min, according to wmata's schedule. Also I am one of those locals that avoids the metro at all costs and I take the bus everywhere and I think once you figure them out, it's way more convenient than metro.

If you have a smart phone, there are great bus apps for DC that tell you when the bus is arriving at a particular stop. Very good for planning when to leave your hotel room. Or you can use this feature: wmata.com/rider_tools/nextbus/arrivals.cfm

Saint Louis...
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6. Re: Charging a SmartTrip card with a metro ticket and bus pass

I saw this question and decided to reply instead of creating a completely new question pretty much asking the same thing. We're flying into Dulles and planned on taking the 5A express bus instead of the Washington Flyer. Since we're staying in Crestwood area, we will be using the bus on a daily basis.

If I purchase a SmartTrip card for $10 with an $8 value and add a 7 day pass for another $17.50 I should be able to use the stored value to pay for the express bus fare? According to wmata website, if you ride an Express and Airport Express (5A and B30) bus with a 7 day pass, the amount deducted from your card will be the difference between the appropriate express bus fare and a regular base fare. For example, if the express bus fare was $7.00 and a regular bus fare was $1.75, then $5.25 would be deducted from your card.

I would need to add $2.50 in value to each card to cover both trips to and from the airport. For a total of $30 each we would get transfers to and from the airport plus use the bus (and DC circulator) as often as we want during our 4 day trip. It seems like a no-brainer to me since at the very least we'll have to pay $14 to get to and from the airport. Am I missing something? I am admittedly not an expert on city busses so any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks much

Edited: 03 July 2014, 16:10
Washington DC...
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7. Re: Charging a SmartTrip card with a metro ticket and bus pass

When is your visit going to be, because once the Silver Line opens out to Reston things may change about the 5A bus? The opening is expected before the end of July.

Washington DC...
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8. Re: Charging a SmartTrip card with a metro ticket and bus pass

I only see one potential problem - I'm assuming you will be riding the S buses to get to downtown and back to where you are staying. But it's a one mile walk from 5a bus drop off to where S buses start.

Olney, Maryland
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9. Re: Charging a SmartTrip card with a metro ticket and bus pass

Are you buying your SmarTrip card online? If so, that probably would work. If not...

When you buy your Smartrip Card (at a Metro Station), you will get it from a special Card dispensing machine with $8 on it. Then if you want to add a pass of some type you use the "regular' fare card machines. So you have $8 of regular fare on it before you even do anything.

I know $16 sounds cheap for a bus pass, but since every time you pay for the bus you get unlimited rides on various routes for the next 2 hours, you will probably spend about the same if you don't get the pass.

Finally: If you are arriving in DC after July 26 at noon, the Silver Line Metro will be open and a local bus (981 or 983)will be running to get you to Wiehle-Reston East station. That's the easiest. The 5A sits in Traffic, runs about every 40-50 minutes, and doesn't let you off near the S2 or S4 buses anyway. Taking the Silver Line gets you to McPherson Sq, where you can easily get the S2 and S4 bus.

Bus in Crestwood: http://wmata.com/bus/timetables/dc/s1-2-4.pdf

New Bus when Silver Line opens: fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/routes/981sl.htm

Metro Train Map: wmata.com/rail/docs/color_map_silverline.pdf

Silver Line Press Release: wmata.com/about_metro/…

ReleaseID=5731

The 5A bus (which is not changing): http://wmata.com/bus/timetables/dc/05a.pdf

Washington Flyer (will change to go to the Silver Line on July 26: http://www.washfly.com/flyer_bus_schedule.htm

Saint Louis...
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10. Re: Charging a SmartTrip card with a metro ticket and bus pass

We're going in October... I guess I'll have to read more on that Silver Line because I didn't really understand it I guess. And yes I was planning on purchasing my card online. I kinda wish I had already done that because the fares have increased in the last week or so!

I guess we could "probably" spend about the same without the pass due to free transfers but I think it would be more convenient to have the pass so we don't have to even think about the fares.