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Home >> Blog >> FAQ: SmarTrip® 101

FAQ: SmarTrip® 101

Pinky Advani
Pinky Advani November 10, 2014 1 Comment Pinky Advani is a Senior Business Development Manager at Arlington Transportation Partners. She has been living a car-lite lifestyle for 15 years and currently rides the Metro each day to work.
ATP TAKEAWAY: SmarTrip cards (and ATP's FAQ below) will make your commute easier and hassle free. Keep reading to learn more on how and where you can use a SmarTrip card.

Usually when people talk about public transit you hear two schools of thought:

Public transit is easy to use.


Public transit is a little scary. I don’t even know how to ride the bus.

If you fall into the second category, Arlington Transportation Partners (ATP) is here to help. We get it, taking that first step on to bus or metro can be intimidating. While we can’t exactly hold your hand, we do want to make the transition from car dependent to car-lite (or car-free!) as easy as possible.

So first thing is first – let’s get you set up to actually ride the bus or the metro. The best (and most cost-efficient) way is to purchase and use a SmarTrip card. Fun fact: buses do accept cash, but the only way to ride Metrorail is with a SmarTrip card.

SmarTrip card, what’s that? Where can I purchase a one? Can I use it on the commuter bus? ATP has you covered, check out a complete FAQ guide below on everything SmarTrip!



Q: What is a SmarTrip® card?

A: A SmartTrip® card is a rechargeable card used to pay fares on Metrorail and the local bus systems in Arlington County, DC and Maryland.

Q: Where can I purchase a SmarTrip® card?

A: You can purchase a card online or at Metro sales offices, retail outlets and commuter stores. There are 4 commuter stores in Arlington County:

You can also visit nearly any Metro Station and purchase one from a small ATM-like machine, usually located right next to the paper fare stations.

Q: How much does a SmarTrip card cost?

A: The card costs $2 and comes with $8 in stored value for a total price of $10.

Q: How do I add money to my SmarTrip® card?

A: You can add money online or at any Metrorail Station, on a Metrobus or at commuter stores and point-of-sale devices. See below for detailed instructions for each method.


  • Log in to your SmarTrip® online account.
  • Select the card to which you want to add stored value or a pass.
  • In the right menu under Online Purchases, click the link to either Add Value or Add Pass and follow the prompts to complete your order.
  • All major credit card or debit card are accepted to add money online.

Metrorail Station:

  • Go to a 'blue' Passes/Farecards or to a 'black' Farecards machine, located at the entrance of every Metrorail Station.
  • Tap your SmarTrip® card against the circular SmarTrip® target.
  • Follow the prompts on the screen.
  • You can pay with cash or debit/credit card.

On Metrobus and most other regional transportation providers:

  • Before you touch your SmarTrip® card to the target on the farebox, push the ADD VALUE button on the left side of the target. If you're not sure where that is, ask the bus operator.

At a SmarTrip® Point-of-Sale Device:

  • Available at commuter stores and hundreds of CVS/pharmacy and Giant Food stores. Click here for sales locations. Follow the directions of the employee assisting with the device.

Q: What is the benefit of using a SmarTrip card?

A: There are several benefits to using a SmarTrip ® card – the best reason to use a SmarTrip card (instead of cash) is because they will save you money. SmarTrip users enjoy reduced fares, free bus-to-bus transfers and reduced bus-to-rail transfers (or vice-versa). SmarTrip cards also make boarding public transit more convenient, increase your personal safety and can even get you added discounts and deals at participating restaurants, stores and museums.

Q: Where can I use my  SmarTrip Card?

A: SmarTrip cards are valid on the following transit services:

  • ART – Arlington Regional Transit
  • DASH
  • Ride On
  • Fairfax Connector
  • CUE
  • Loudon County Transit
  • Omniride
  • TheBus
  • DC Circulator
  • Maryland Transit Administration Local Bus
  • Light Rail and Metro Subway
  • Registered Van Pools
  • Parking at Metro facilities

Q: Should I register my SmarTrip card?

A: Yes! You can register your SmarTrip® card to protect it in case it malfunctions or is lost, stolen or damaged.

Arlington Transportation Partners wants to make your commute easier for you, so tap your SmartTrip® card and hop on the next bus or metro!

Still have questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us.

Photo Credit: Sam Kittner/Kittner.com for Arlington Transportation Partners

Tags: Bus, Metro, Arlington County, Commute, FAQ, Transit

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