College students in DC area have new way to pay for Metro rides

College students who use the U-Pass SmarTrip card can now make their experience riding Metrorail and Metrobus more convenient.

Students attending participating universities can now add their U-Pass SmarTrip card to their virtual Apple Wallet on iPhones and Apple watches.



The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said the new feature is quick and easy to use, and eliminates the need to carry a physical card.

Once the card information has been entered into a user’s Apple Wallet, that user’s physical card will no longer work, according to WMATA.

The transit agency said the virtual U-Pass will work just like a physical card at any of Metro’s 97 rail stations in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia, and all Metrobus routes.

In order to pay a fare using U-Pass, users hold their iPhone or Apple Watch near the card reader on the fare gate or farebox. There’s no need for Face ID or Touch ID to unlock an Apple device, when using Express Mode, WMATA said in a news release.

The virtual U-Pass will be removed from a user’s Apple Wallet when it expires at the end of the school year.

The transit agency said participating schools will continue to distribute new U-Pass SmarTrip cards to eligible students at the beginning of the fall semester, which can be added to Apple Wallet for the academic year.

American University, George Washington University, James Madison University, Johns Hopkins University — SAIS and The College of William and Mary are some of the 28 schools where students are using U-Pass.

The introduction of U-Pass in the Apple Wallet app is the newest mobile option Metro accepts for payment. The transit agency began accepting mobile pay options in September 2020.

Metro has a website with more information on how to add U-Pass to Apple Wallet, and details on which devices are compatible.

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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