Even the transit agency's general manager, Richard Sarles, apparently has not one, but several, doppelgangers using SmarTrip cards under his name.
"I've been told that," Sarles told The Washington Examiner. "I was like 'What?!' "
Of course, Sarles doesn't need a SmarTrip card for his own travels because he rides for free like all Metro employees. And it seems unlikely that the Secret Service would let the sitting president ride the X2 bus or Red Line.
But riders have registered their plastic SmarTrip cards under all sorts of fake names, according to Metro's Adam McGavock who handles SmarTrip issues for the system's treasury division. They do it out of fear that Metro may track them using the cards. (No, McGavock says, the plastic cards do not have GPS units embedded in them to track your every move.) Or they register fake contacts in case their personal information is sold to marketers -- or even to have a little fun.
And Metro is OK with that, really.
"It's fine if you make up a name," McGavock said. But, he added, it's only OK as long as those riders can repeat back that exact fake information when they call customer service for help with their accounts.
The transit agency is hoping to get more riders to switch over to the plastic farecards -- and register them. Currently nearly 90 percent of Metrobus riders and more than 80 percent of Metrorail riders use them, but the rest use paper farecards for rail or cash on buses.
That costs the system money. It's about $4 annually to buy paper farecards, but that doesn't include the delays and inefficiencies it costs the system as lines form on buses as someone fumbles for change or station managers spend hours a day helping riders with demagnetized paper farecards, McGavock said.
Starting July 1, the agency will charge $1 extra for each one-way trip using paper farecards on the rail system. Bus riders paying cash will continue to pay 20 cents extra. And as an incentive for riders to switch to plastic then register the cards, Metro will be giving riders a $3 rebate when they register a new card online starting Sept. 1, effectively reducing the cost of the $5 cards to $2.
So does Clinton or either of the George Bushes have a real SmarTrip account?
"I don't think so," McGavock said. "They probably wouldn't register it under their real names."