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Metro Card Options

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Jun 11th, 2014, 02:17 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Aug 2011
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Metro Card Options

Family of 4 (2 teens). Arriving @ DCA
Anticipate riding 3-4X per day.

What is the suggested pass to get?
SmarTrip for each or can 2 use 1 card?
$14 day pass make sense for usual tourist travelling?
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Jun 11th, 2014, 02:33 PM
  #2
 
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2 people cannot use one card! I'm sorry I can't comment on the rest, but this I know Plan on one card per person.
NewbE is offline  
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Jun 11th, 2014, 02:33 PM
  #3
 
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"SmarTrip for each or can 2 use 1 card?"

SmarTrip cards cannot be shared by two or more people riding at the same time.

I would go to the www.wmata.com website and check some sample fares. This might help you figure out if the $14/day is a good idea.
vjpblovesitaly is offline  
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Jun 11th, 2014, 10:23 PM
  #4
 
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How long will you be staying? Where will you be staying?

No to sharing a card - need one for each person in your group. There is no discount for the teens.

You can get your cards at DCA station. Each card is $2 then you either add value or load a pass. Unless you expect to hit the $14/day usage (plug in some sample trips at the wmata.com site to see what your fares would be) I'd just load the cards with some value, and you can top up as needed.
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Jun 12th, 2014, 03:22 AM
  #5
 
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Whatever you choose, keep in mind that most fares on Metro are by distance - so you have to use your fare card/pass upon entry and exit - so find a convenient place to keep it during your ride.
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Jun 12th, 2014, 05:24 AM
  #6
 
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If you're staying in the city and mostly traveling in the city the fares for single rides will be $3.00 or less (including during peak hours). Even your trip from Reagan into the city will be in that range. So if you're correct about riding 3-4X a day you're probably not going to hit the break even point on the unlimited day pass.

I'd buy 4 Smartrip cards when you arrive at Reagan. Slightly amending what Seamus said, the card costs $10 at any metro station -- $2 for the card preloaded with $8 in fare credit. After that, as Seamus said, you can add fares or, if you decide it's worth it, add the 1 day unlimited pass to your Smartrip card.

You may discover that walking between two points is shorter and faster than the metro, esp if it involves switching lines.

The Find A Metro DC app for your smartphone is an excellent resource -- well worth the 99 cents.

Metro has a fare hike taking effect June 29. The $14 unlimited ride pass will be $14.50. Most individual fares will increase $.05.
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Jun 12th, 2014, 07:45 AM
  #7
 
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Based on the cost of trips, the unlimited day-pass makes sense if you are riding more than 4 times, but if not, then I think you'd be better paying by the ride. But I do a lot more walking in DC and took a couple of taxi rides, too. So I didn't end up riding as much as I thought I might.

Realize that a family of 4 can share a single taxi, and this might be cheaper in some cases than taking the Metro.
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Jun 12th, 2014, 08:34 AM
  #8
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Staying near the Convention Center for 4 days, so it looks like Metro Center might be a good station for catching multiple lines.

Expect to travel within the city & don't mind walking so it looks like pay as we go will be best bet.

Maybe use a taxi to escape the July heat for a while?
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Jun 12th, 2014, 10:22 AM
  #9
 
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Staying near the Convention Center for 4 days, so it looks like Metro Center might be a good station for catching multiple lines.

Not necessarily, especially if your destinations are near the National Mall. If you're staying by the Convention Center, Mt Vernon Sq/Convention Center is probably closest metro station. The green/yellow lines will get you in close proximity to the Verizon Center, Spy Museum, Portrait Gallery, American Art, Archives, Newseum, Natural Hstory, National Gallery of Art, Air and Space and American Indian Museum. It is worth a few minutes with Google Maps to see what the closest station is to your destination.

It's also worth looking at the map to see if it's just as easy to walk. For instance the Spy Museum is a 3 minute walk from the Gallery Place metro station. If your next destination is the Archives you could take the metro from Gallery Place to the Archives station and walk 2 minutes to the actual building. Or you could walk from one to the next in under six minutes.

Maybe use a taxi to escape the July heat for a while?

Haha. For certain. Metro stations and cars have A/C but sometimes it's nicer to let someone take you door to door.
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Jun 12th, 2014, 01:25 PM
  #10
 
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Thanks for clarifying the card acquisition process ($2+8=10), obxgirl - I was so focused on cost analysis I neglected to mention that. Helps explain why my 401(k) is in the shape it is. ;-)
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Jun 22nd, 2014, 09:12 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I was in DC a couple of weeks ago (just started preparing a report).

I advance purchased 2 Smartrip cards and put about $20 extra on each. Most rides were about $1.75 each. I took an extra ride so I ended up using slightly more.

We even took the Metro from Farragut West to DCA (smooth except for a slightly long walk at the end - I think there's a shuttle to the terminal we needed but couldn't quickly find it).

At the end send the cards to:
Smartrip Customer Service
3301 Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22314

They'll refund you the balance.

As others may have said. The reason you cannot share a Smartrip card is that the fare is based on the distance and time of day. So you have to "tap" the card at both ends of a trip.

Of course, the card fee of $2 each is not refunded.
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Jun 29th, 2014, 04:43 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
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Perhaps not relevant for you, but here is a tip for internatioall visitors to DC: We tried to use our Canadian credit card in the Smartrip machine and it asked for our zip code (for security reasons, I presume). Our Canadian equivalent is a different number of digits so it wouldn't accept it and therefore we couldn't use the card. Cash works, however. We did find the machines to purchase the various cards confusing, but there was always a transit employee or local person around to help us.
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Jun 29th, 2014, 11:08 AM
  #13
 
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eliztravels2, that is very surprising to me! I would think that such a heavily touristed city as DC would have straightened out using non-US CC's in Metro machines by now.

The machines really are confusing. I used to live in DC, and when I visit I still sometimes fumble around them a bit. But as you say, and as has been my experience as well, there is always a staff member or a friendly local to help.
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Sep 16th, 2014, 05:57 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
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"They're for kids/students who're under 18."

Not helpful or accurate.

"Student Fares

Metro student fare products are for District students who use Metrobus, Metrorail, or the DC Circulator to travel to and from school and school sponsored educational activities."
http://www.wmata.com/fares/purchase/passes.cfm#students
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Sep 16th, 2014, 10:30 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
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>The machines really are confusing. <

Agreed. Let one of the teenagers operate the machine. I am tecno-challenged, but my teenager had both of our SmarTrip cards purchased in the time it took me to figure out where to put the card.....
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Sep 16th, 2014, 11:33 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 24,177
Ha ha - we just stood there looking dazed and confused until a very helpful Metro employee came over to walk us through it!
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