You can now use your Apple Wallet to pay for trips on the Washington, DC, Metro

Sep 1, 2020

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The Apple Wallet is increasingly the contactless fare payment system of choice for transit agencies and riders the world over.

One can use Apple Pay for bus and train rides in a growing number of global cities, including Chicago, London, New York and Tokyo. And, beginning Tuesday, payments on the “Metro” transit system serving the Washington, D.C., region are also compatible.

Metro users can load their SmarTrip cards to their Apple Wallet on either an iPhone or Apple Watch to pay for rides. SmarTrip is accepted at all of the system’s 91 rail stations, plus Metrobuses and at least nine other regional bus operators. Riders can even add value to a SmarTrip card on their phone using Apple Pay.

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“We are excited to deliver a new level of convenience and simplicity for our customers,” said Metro general manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld. “If you have an iPhone or Apple Watch, you already have everything you need to simply tap and go.”

The process is simple. Riders simply need to click the add button in their Apple Wallet and SmarTrip comes up as an option under “Travel Cards.” There, they can select between creating a new SmarTrip “card” on their phone or transferring an existing one. Users must input account information from their existing card to transfer it.

One drawback is that Metro riders cannot have their SmarTrip card on both their iPhone and Apple Watch at the same time. However, they can transfer it back and forth on their phone.

Related: The New York City Subway Is Finally Getting a Contactless Fare System

The Metro announcement is a small bit of good news in an otherwise bleak year for transit. The coronavirus pandemic hit the agency hard with ridership falling below 10% of 2019 levels with numerous rail stations shuttered during the worst of the public health emergency. Riders have begun to return along with service resumptions, but Metro is losing around $2 million a day and could be forced to roll back service without additional federal aid, according to The Washington Post.

One thing the pandemic does not appear to have hit is construction of an extension to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD). While it was delayed due to construction issues prior to COVID-19, the extension with a new station just a short walk from the airport terminal is due to open in 2021.

When it opens, the Washington region will join Chicago as the only multi-airport metro areas where every airport has its own train station. Metro trains already serve Washington Reagan National (DCA), and both Amtrak and the MARC commuter rail system serve Baltimore/Washington (BWI).

Related: Your complete guide to Apple Pay

Featured image by Edward Russell/TPG.

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