MARC and VRE train riders who rely on Metro during service disruptions will no longer be allowed to ride for free, starting next month.
Metro announced Monday that starting July 1, riders who turn to Metro during MARC and VRE service disruptions will not be able to enter Metrorail stations through the emergency gates. Instead, riders will have to tap a SmarTrip card to pay for their Metro trip.
The agency said in a statement that VRE riders' and MARC riders' "Metro option" was "an informal courtesy extended by Metro that was carried forward over time."
Amid yearslong funding issues, the beleagured transit agency had not been collecting reimbursement from MARC or VRE for the fares.
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"There was no process for Metro to properly track or seek reimbursement for the cost of these trips, nor any agreement between MARC/VRE and Metro to govern the program," Metro's statement said.
Metro said it made the change to "reduce fare-payment disputes, improve safety, and ensure that every rider is counted toward WMATA's funding grants."
A statement from VRE said agency officials understand and support Metro’s efforts to improve its systems.
“WMATA’s change also impacts MARC riders, and VRE is committed to working with MARC and WMATA for a long-term, regional solution allowing us to add the Metro Option back to our resources during service disruptions,” VRE's statement said.
MARC and VRE riders without a SmarTrip card can go here to find out where to buy them.