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Metro planning to eliminate paper fare cards in favor fo SmarTrip cards

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(WJLA) - For most who live in the area, using a SmarTrip card in the plastic form seems to be the most logical choice.

"The paper cards, sometimes they get ripped or they fall apart and they cause issues when you put them into the machine, so I think the smartcards are better," says rider Tim Ash.

"It just seems more economical," added Nikhil Vashee.

In fact, more than 90-percent of Metrorail riders already use them to get around, versus a paper card which charges $1 more for every trip.

But for those sightseeing here at the nation’s capital, buying a one-day unlimited paper fare card seemed to make the most sense.

"We're getting on and off so many times, so for us it was better," says David Kuryla from Evansville, Indiana.

The Metro Board’s finance and administration committee approved the fiscal year 2015 capital budget, which includes doing away with the paper fare cards and converting the vending machines in the next couple of years so that they only dispense SmarTrip cards in the future.

“SmarTrip cards are more durable, they're faster for getting riders in and out of the system," says Dan Stessel, WMATA's Director of Communications.

The move would ultimately save them more than $6 million a year, once the switch is complete.

“if you think about what happens to a fare card when it goes into a fare gate, it's a complex system, almost like a copy machine of rollers, sensors, printers and other parts of the fare gate that need to be maintained," says Stessel.

Right now, those who buy the SmarTrip card end up paying $10 upfront -- $2 for the cost of the card and the remaining balance going towards the fare. But the Metro’s spokesperson says some have already questioned the impact it would have on tourists down the road:

"The fact of the matter is today when we dispense a paper fare card, the cost of taking a trip with a paper fare card is already $1 more than using a SmarTrip card…A SmarTrip card pays for itself if you take one round-trip on a paper fare card."

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