Metro moves away from smartphone fares

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Metro has cancelled a pilot program and contract that would have allowed riders to pay with their phones or credits, rather than SmarTrip card.

“We thought, at the time, that the market was moving in a certain way. That people would be doing things different than what they’re doing today. And that market hasn’t materialized,” said Paul Wiedefeld, Metro’s General Manager, when explaining his decision to end the New Electronics Payment Program.

Wiedefeld made the decision following a three-month pilot program and said the lack of interest in the idea appeared even before it started.

“We couldn’t even get the numbers of people we wanted to do the survey with."

Wiedefeld said the transit authority had spent $25 million so far on the program, out of $150 million that had been earmarked for it.

The remaining money will be used to improve the current SmarTrip system.

“We want to make sure that the actual gates work. You know, some of the issue is the paddles actually don’t work. The tap, to read that quicker. So the inners of the gates. The fare vending machines, basically putting new electronics on the front of those, going to much more of a touch screen type of approach."

Wiedefeld added Metro will stick with SmarTrip cards for the foreseeable future.