Metro’s fare system will no longer allow customers to carry a negative balance on a SmarTrip card for Metrobus and Metrorail beginning Jan. 8.

Previously, customers would be permitted to complete certain trips even though there were insufficient funds on the SmarTrip card to pay the appropriate fare. However, unresolved negative balances have added up to be worth about $25 million over the past 17 years, according to Metro.

“In an environment where every dollar counts, we are taking a common sense approach to ensure that Metro is properly collecting the value of the transportation it provides in order to reduce the demand on Metro customers and the region for additional funding,” Metro Chief Financial Officer Dennis Anosike said in a statement.

Customers entering the Metrorail system are advised that they should load sufficient funds for their trip prior to entering the system. If a SmarTrip card does not have enough value to pay for the trip, the faregate will not open and the customer will be directed to an Exitfare machine, which accept cash/coins only. On Metrobus, the farebox will buzz if a customer’s SmarTrip card has insufficient value to pay for the trip.

In addition, current rail pass users—including SelectPass, DC Student Passes, One-Day Passes and Seven-Day Passes—should check to ensure that their “stored value” purse is not showing a negative balance. Beginning Jan. 8, Metro faregates will require that the negative balance be paid, even if there is a valid pass on the card.

Metro is encouraging passengers to to sign up for Auto Reload via their SmarTrip account, a “set-it-and-forget-it” feature that adds value to your card automatically anytime the value drops below $10. Follow this link to learn more: