Anyone Having Smarttrip Problems Lately?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

“Dear PoPville,

I am sure I’m not the only one confused by the way our smartrip cards now work or frustrated that I can’t get through to the 888-smartrip # before I hear the dreaded “all operators are busy, please call back later” message.

Saturday I had over $200 on my card and then Tuesday I had $48….I know they upgraded their technology, but still don’t understand how we will be able to know exactly how much $$ we will have in our accts without having to create and log into our accts on the wmata website. Do you know or does anyone know the new process??!!??

Thank you”

17 Comment

  • Apparently, when you go through the faregate, it only shows your SmartBenefits balance, although the others still remain on the card (to be used when the SmartBenefits balance runs dry).

    I’ve heard that you can look up all the balances online for your SmartTrip card, but I’m not exactly sure of the process.

    • these things are true. you can look it up pretty easily online to see the different ‘purses’ – it only took me a couple minutes to set up the account and find my info. my smartbenefits manager told me that i’d lost my personal money, which is not true, but i have yet to “see” it because i end up with a few dollars left over at the end of the month. if i ever use up my $94/month in benefits, my missing $72 from before october 2011 will magically reappear until the 1st of the next month, when i’ll start at $94 again and the $72 becomes invisible.

      it seems unnecessarily confusing, but i’m not sure what i’d do to change it and preserve all the flexibility/accountability so that suckers like me aren’t collecting more benefits than we’ll use.

  • I freaked out too, but this is what they sent us at work to explain the changes:

    “After October 31, any current balance on your card will be stored in the “Personal” stored value purse of your SmarTrip card. Stored value (Personal) funds can be used to pay for transit or Metro parking.”

  • This has been a little confusing for me too. If you’re a Federal employee, the SmartBenefits program has changed slightly. You now have two distinct accounts on your SmarTrip card, one for SmartBenefits and the other for your own personal stored value. The SmartBenefits part is now recharged automatically at the beginning of the month but no balances carry over from month to month. So, if I get a $60 SmartBenefit from work and end the month with $10 on it, that $10 goes away and on the first of the month I have $60. No need to recharge at a MetroCard machine. If I understand correctly, this money can’t be used for parking or certain other costs. I also heard it can’t be used on the weekend, but no confirmation of that. The second account has whatever amount was on your SmarTrip card when they made the conversion and sits there for use only if you run out of SmartBenefit credit.

    • Farragut

      Not quite; it depends on the agency in question whether or not your extra SmartBenefits will rollover.

      • Yeah, my card didn’t automatically recharge this month, I still had to go to the machine and add SmartBenefits like I always have before.

  • I hope this is the case. I had a balance on the card at the end of last month (though I can’t remember the exact amount) and as soon as I touched the card on the first it showed my new balance as only the amount I added this month. All were SmartBenefits. Need to look into this.

    • jpsauva

      So from this portion of the article;

      “What is being displayed on the faregate is the amount in the transit purse or if a rider is at a parking facility it will show the amount in the parking purse.

      Once those amounts are drawn down, the account then starts to use what is in the personal stored value, which can be used for transit or parking”

      It still sounds like we will see what was added at the top of the month, but it won’t show us our complete “purse” (acct balance) unless we log into

      Everybody better run out and get a smart phone……!

  • You can create a SmarTrip account or log in to your existing account here:

    Then you can add any cards you have and view the balance on them.

  • I called SmartTrip an hour ago and had to call back several times before I could speak to someone – the guy I spoke to was very nice and said they’re receiving alot of calls right now (probably for this exact reason).

    The situation the OP described leads me to think that they get $48 a month in SmartBenefits through their employer, which is why the faregate reflected only that much on Nov. 1st. Once they use that $48, their previous $200+ balance will then be available and drawn upon for the rest of the month until the process repeats itself on Dec. 1st.

    I hadn’t heard about the restriction of SmartBenefits usage to weekdaysonly, does anyone know if that’s true?

    • That’s not true for my agency & I suspect it’s true across the board, but I don’t know for sure. After all, it would suck to not only have to go into work on the weekend (which happens occasionally), but to also be on the hook for the metro fare on top of it.

  • called them yesterday, the wait time was only 7 minutes.
    I needed to transfer money from one card to another which may take up to a week. other than that it was ok.

  • That’s what happened to me. I put $20 of my own money on my card when my $60 of smartbenefits ran out. I still had $12 on it when the first of October came and it seemed to disappear. However, when the next $60 smartbenefits ran out last week, there was my $12 of personal money, waiting for me to use.

  • Sounds like bad software design.

  • The amount in your SmartBenefits account will show up on the faregate first. Once you deplete your SmartBenefit amount, your other personal account will kick in and start showing up on the faregate.

    In addition to managing your personal versus SmartBenefits accounts online, you can also still see your personal amount when you check your Smart Trip balance at the fare card machines (at least I could when I tried–it showed me the total amount on my card).

  • When you go through the fare gate, it displays your smart benefits balance.

    If you take your card to a machine (as if you’re loading money onto your card) the balance displayed is your “personal balance” not including Smart Benefits.

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