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CVS to Stop Selling SmarTrip Cards, Citing Metro's Failure to Fix Equipment

CVS told News4 that Metro failed to fix malfunctioning equipment in their stores

If you reload your Metro card at CVS stores, you're going to have to find another way soon. 

CVS Health told Metro they will stop selling and reloading Metro cards in their stores in the D.C. area starting May 31, ending a partnership that has been in place for almost a decade.

Metro says the move will hurt people who use Metrobus or don't often go to Metro stations. 

CVS told News4 that Metro failed to fix malfunctioning equipment in their stores. 

"Over the past several months, we have been working with WMATA in an attempt to resolve operational issues that have caused disruption to customer service in our stores, including unsustainably slow response times to repair SmarTrip equipment that frequently malfunctions," a company spokesman said in a statement. 

"Unfortunately, WMATA could not commit to resolving these issues satisfactorily, which left us with no choice except to exit the SmarTrip program effective May 31," the statement continued. "We apologize to customers for any inconvenience this may cause and we share their disappointment."

A Metro spokeswoman said that the agency was ready to work through any issues with CVS, and that they hope the company will reconsider. 

CVS told Metro in a letter dated May 1 that they would stop selling SmarTrip cards in their stores and reloading them.

Metro Board of Directors Chairman Jack Evans said the news came suddenly. He said CVS had been a "terrific partner," and that Metro would like to continue to work with them.

"We are surprised and disappointed with CVS Health’s decision to no longer offer SmarTrip sales, a decision that will negatively affect thousands of low-income bus customers across the region," a Metro spokesman said in a statement. 

Metro responded to CVS’s letter on Tuesday, proposing steps for improvement that included revising the commission structure for CVS and replacing 30 outdated SmarTrip devices with "newer, more reliable units."

In the meantime, CVS is starting the process of returning the remaining transit card inventory, as first reported by The Washington Post.

People in the D.C. area use CVS stores for more than half a million SmarTrip purchase and reload transactions each year, Metro said in a letter to CVS.

"For many minority, low-income and limited-English proficiency customers who depend on Metrobus to get to work, school and healthcare appointments, CVS Health has provided a convenient and valuable service to our mutual customers," a Metro spokesman said in a statement.

Without the option to get SmarTrip cards at the more than 150 CVS locations in the D.C. area, the number of retail locations where people can buy or reload the travel cards is reduced by more than 60 percent, according to a letter from Metro.

In the District, there are currently seven Giant Food stores and two Walmart locations that sell SmarTrip cards. All but one of them have the ability for people to reload money onto the card.

Metro is asking CVS to keep selling SmarTrip cards at the 20 stores where they sell best. The transit agency has encouraged riders to use retail locations like CVS to purchase SmarTrip cards to avoid long lines and delays during major events like inaugurations and demonstrations. 

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