Metro SmarTrip Balances to not Allow Negative Balances Beginning Jan. 8

Metro will not allow customers to exit the rail system or board a bus if the trip would create a negative balance on their SmarTrip card.

This change goes into effect Jan. 8.

Currently, small negative balances are allowed on SmarTrip cards. Bus riders with $1.75 or less on their card are allowed to board a bus, even though their SmarTrip card would carry a negative balance. Similarly, rail riders are allowed to exit the rail system with a small negative balance on their SmarTrip card.

Over the past 17 years, Metro reports they have lost about $25 million dollars by allowing small SmarTrip card balances.


“In an environment where every dollar counts, we are taking a common sense approach to ensure that Metro is properly collecting the value of the transportation it provides in order to reduce the demand on Metro customers and the region for additional funding,” said Metro’s Chief Financial Officer, Dennis Anosike.


Beginning Jan. 8, the Metrobus farebox wll buzz if a SmarTrip card does not have enough value to pay for the trip and the rider will not be allowed on the bus.

On Metrorail, the faregate will not open if a SmarTrip card does not have enough value to pay for the trip. The rider will need to use an Exitfare machine, which only accepts cash.

This change also applies to rail pass users (SelectPass, DC Student Passes, One Day Pass, Seven Day Passes, etc) beginning Jan. 8.
Metro encourages customers to sign up for Auto Reload on their SmarTrip account. This feature adds value to SmarTrip card automatically anytime the balance dips below $10. More information is available at
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