SmarTrip: the migration is on

The following quote comes from a slide titled “Strategy For Today” in a presentation given to the WMATA Customer Service and Operations Committee at its October 14, 2010 meeting:

Migrate SmarTrip cards to a new ISO-compliant chip

On a later slide, under the heading “Next Steps”:

Design system to achieve seamless transition between legacy fare system and Metro open payment system

In short, WMATA is proceeding precisely as predicted; they intend to migrate SmarTrip to an ISO 14443-compliant card (although they haven’t specified which one, the MIFARE DESFire or MIFARE Plus are likely candidates; recent Cubic deployments have used the DESFire), and add open payment to the fare collection system (the latter we’ve known about since last summer). The ‘guiding principle’ for this project is given as “Maintain and enhance use of SmarTrip cards; develop new system architecture to allow for other forms of contactless payment”, which indicates that contrary to previous rumors, WMATA does not intend for open payment to supplant the SmarTrip card—and that eliminates some of the more substantial concerns surrounding open payment.