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Metrobus Free Rides End This Week

Starting this coming Sunday, Jan. 3, riders on Metrobus will have to start paying for their fare once again.

During the pandemic, WMATA briefly ended charging fares for travel on Metrobus. But with the Metro facing a “doomsday scenario” in its budget, the city is planning to start reinstating fare collection and front-door boarding on Sunday.

“With everyone wearing masks, shields for operators on every bus, and enhanced daily cleanings, front-door boarding is safe, expands our capacity for more riders, and helps us resume some normalcy,” said Metro General Manager/CEO Paul Wiedefeld in a press release. “We also need to collect fares from every rider to keep essential Metro transit employees working and continue to provide essential service.”

The move comes as regional transit organizations start to recover some service, though the situation is unsteady with COVID-19 figures continuing to climb in Alexandria.

According to the WMATA website:

Metrobus will resume fare collection and front-door boarding beginning Sunday, January 3, as part of Metro’s pandemic recovery plan that aims to preserve service and transit jobs.

The current rear-door boarding policy was implemented in March under Metro’s comprehensive plan to protect frontline employees at a time when less was known about the coronavirus and its means of transmission. Because the farebox and SmarTrip equipment is located at the front of the bus, the Metro Board authorized the temporary suspension of fare collection…

Beginning January 3, customers should board at the front of the bus. The cost per trip is $2 payable in cash or with SmarTrip. Customers can save considerably by purchasing a 7-day bus pass for just $15, providing an unlimited number of bus trips on a Metrobus, RideOn, ART, DASH, Fairfax Connector, and The Bus.

For a faster, contactless way to pay, customers can add SmarTrip passes to their Apple Wallet and then pay using iPhone or Apple Watch. Simply hold the mobile device over the SmarTrip target, just as you would a SmarTrip card. To get started, download the SmarTrip app from the App Store. Payment support for Google Wallet on Android devices is coming soon.

The return of front-door boarding and fare collection is consistent with recovery efforts by major transit agencies across the country including Baltimore, New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, Houston, Portland, Oakland and San Francisco.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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