American University (AU) will be the first in Washington, D.C. region to adopt Metro’s University Pass (U•Pass) this fall, providing students with unlimited riding privileges on Metrobus and Metrorail at a substantially discounted price.
All full-time undergraduate, graduate and law students at AU will receive the U•Pass. The student pass is a pilot for Metro — one of many projects included in the Metro GM/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld’s Customer Accountability Report (CARe) plan, which is updated monthly on the agency's website, wmata.com. While the new program will generate about $2.7 million for the current fiscal year, at about $1 a day for each student during the semester, the U•Pass offers an affordable transportation option for students to travel throughout the region for classes, internships, jobs and other activities.
“This is an important partnership that enables Metro to better serve the region’s universities, build ridership in the near term and encourage the next generation to become public transit users,” said Wiedefeld.
WMATA’s Board of Directors approved the one-year pilot in March. AU embraced the concept from the start and won overwhelming approval from the student body in a vote last year.
Students will receive a specially designed U•Pass SmarTrip card with the AU logo. The pass will be administered by the university as part of their student benefits and will be financial aid eligible. Student cards will be issued at the beginning of the academic year, fully loaded and ready to tap and go anywhere in the Metro system.
More than 10,000 AU students will benefit from the U•Pass. Use of the pass is unlimited for trips taken on both Metrorail and Metrobus, but does not apply to transit services offered by local jurisdictions during the pilot.
The pilot will be evaluated at the end of the first year, at which time any changes to the program may be made based on actual customer experience. Metro expects the pilot to attract other colleges and universities in the region that have expressed interest.
Several transit agencies across the country have similar student pass programs including, MARTA in Atlanta, CTA in Chicago and SEPTA in Philadelphia.