News & Politics

You Can Now Use Your Phone to Get on the Metro

As of today, SmarTrip cards can be uploaded to your iPhone or Apple Watch via Apple Wallet.

Photograph by kanzilyou via iStock.

Welcome to the Brave New World: You can now swipe onto the Metro or the bus using just your phone.

As of today, SmarTrip cards can be uploaded to your iPhone or Apple Watch via Apple Wallet, according to a press release from WMATA. (It only supports iPhone 8 and up.) Yes, that means no more losing your SmarTrip card—you just hold your device up to the card reader, and off you go.

Those who already have existing SmarTrip cards can upload their current balances, benefits, and passes to their Apple Wallet. You can also buy a new pass or add value to an existing one via Apple Pay, or download the new SmarTrip app, which allows you to add money, purchase passes, and manage your auto reload and SmartBenefits.

You can now use SmarTrip on your phone at all 91 DMV Metro stations, all Metrobus lines, all Metro parking areas, and all regional bus routes.

While there’s currently not a SmarTrip version for Android, WMATA is working on one, according to DCist. And don’t toss your cards just yet—WMATA has no immediate plans to go cashless or get rid of physical SmarTrips all together.

For longtime locals, the news will be bittersweet. Back in the paper-farecard years, the specially-themed novelty farecard—there was one for the Obama inauguration, another that displayed the pandas—was a little Metro treat. The plastic SmarTrip cards also offered an ability for cool-looking branding. The phone? Not so much.

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.