Monday, June 22, 2009

Refilling SmarTrip Card Now Marginally Easier

Save yourself a trip to the Columbia Heights Metro station or the nearest bus stop. You can now refill your SmarTrip Card right here in Mount Pleasant. We long for the day when SmarTrip cardholders will be able to refill their cards online. Seems easy enough infrastructure to build. And that day will come soon. However, until then, recharging just got a little bit easier. Metro has teamed with businesses around the city, Virginia and Maryland to offer another point of sale for adding value to the "e z pass" of the DC transit world.

Previously the only ways to load up a card were to visit a Metro station and wait in laboriously long lines or hop on a bus and add the cash manually to the card. There aren’t nearly enough SmarTrip machines in the Metro stations, something that WMATA acknowledges. Adding money on the bus is easy enough, although tough to do one-handed for some if the bus is moving. And personally, I don’t like to hold up the line adding money to my card.

In Mount Pleasant, there is one retailer who has the new system, Distribuidora El Salvador Del Mundo, at 3108 Mt Pleasant Street NW. Employees have to actually add money to the card through a device behind the counter. They accept cash and credit. It was not clear if there was a service charge. The other close location is the Giant Grocery at 1345 Park Rd NW. Again, you have to hand over the SmarTrip at the customer service desk for refill. Giant charges a $0.25 fee for refill and you can pay with cash or credit/debit.

For me, this is only marginally easier than standing in line at the stations, because, you're just as liable to have to stand in line in either Giant or Distribuidora and wait for the transaction to take place. However, another option is another option, so I won't complain too much. Keep it coming Metro, and don't give up on online credit card refills. We will be grateful!