Washington Metro lets students add digital transit passes to Apple Wallet via NFC

SMARTRIP: Students can now generate, store and use a digital version of their U-Pass on their Apple device

College students with a physical prepaid U-Pass SmarTrip transit card can now generate, store and use a digital version of it in Apple Wallet. The card enables them to make unlimited journeys on Metrorail and Metrobus services in the US capital Washington DC during term-time for a fixed fare of US$1 a day.

U-Pass holders at nearly 30 participating universities and colleges that include the cost of the card in their tuition fees can transfer their existing card to Wallet by scanning it with their NFC iPhone or Apple Watch. They can then use it in the same way as their physical card at any of Metrorail’s 97 stations across Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia and on all Metrobus routes.

“Just hold your iPhone or Apple Watch near the card reader on the faregate or farebox to pay with U-Pass,” Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) explains.

“With Express Mode, there’s no need for Face ID, Touch ID or to unlock the device.”

“When the U-Pass expires at the end of the school year, it will be removed from your Wallet,” WMATA says.

“Each year participating schools will continue to distribute new U-Pass SmarTrip cards to all eligible students at the beginning of the fall semester. Once you have the card it can be added to Apple Wallet for the academic year.”

A short video shows how students can add an existing U-Pass card to Apple Wallet.

U-Pay is not currently available in Google Pay, but WMATA says that it “will provide updates as we plan support for Android users”. 

WMATA began enabling passengers to add standard SmarTrip transit cards to Apple Wallet in September 2020 and to Google Pay in June 2021.

Washington Metro lets students add digital transit passes to Apple Wallet via NFC was written by Tom Phillips and published by NFCW.

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