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Metro Board: Replacing SmarTrip Will Be Difficult

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Metro needs to order more SmarTrip cards, but the company that makes them doesn't exist anymore.
David Schultz
Metro needs to order more SmarTrip cards, but the company that makes them doesn't exist anymore.

Metro is trying to develop new fare cards to replace the SmarTrip cards it currently uses. But that's proving to be a logistical challenge.

Metro needs new fare cards because the company that made SmarTrip cards went out of business. And, to make matters worse, the company has proprietary ownership of the technology behind the cards.

Metro Board Member Gordon Linton says agreeing to let the company own the SmarTrip technology was a big mistake.

"We don't own the system that we paid millions of dollars for," Linton says. "We are a licensee."

Linton's Metro Board colleague, Chris Zimmerman, says Metro needs to start over with a new card and a new company so it can cut its losses.

"And so that we're not just funneling money to people who are real good at intellectual property, but aren't really selling us anything, except a tether to them," Zimmerman says.

For now, Metro says it has enough SmarTrip cards on hand to last it two years.

WAMU 88.5

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