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Metro to sell special Fourth of July SmarTrip cards

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Local,Liz Essley,Metro,Metro and Traffic

Patriotic partiers wanting to take Metro into the city to see the Fourth of July fireworks this year will be able to show off their national pride with their SmarTrip cards.

Metro will sell commemorative SmarTrip cards for Independence Day at a price of $14 for a one-day pass. Metro announced the cards Thursday, on the heels of its Inauguration successes, when the agency sold 95,000 commemorative cards in 2013 and 180,000 in 2009.

"We hope that this convenience for our customers will reduce crowding in stations, allow customers to avoid waiting in line at fare machines and make travel through the system easier on this great holiday," Metro General Manager Richard Sarles told the agency's board Thursday.

Metro is expecting heavy ridership for Independence Day, though it won't charge peak fares. More than 500,000 riders took Metro for last year's Independence Day.

The Fourth of July cards go on sale on wmata.com May 1 and are different from the special SmarTrip cards Metro has sold in the past -- Inauguration 2013 cards featuring an image of President Obama sold for $20, including $5 for the card and $15 for fare that could be used at anytime. The 2009 Inauguration cards cost $10 with no fare on them.

For riders not planning to use $14 of fare in one day, the old commemorative cards were a better deal. But Sarles said the card is aimed at tourists and could save them time and money.

"A lot of people come in and use the paper farecards, and they have to pay an extra buck each way. Rather than doing that, order your Independence Day SmarTrip card ahead of time. You'll get it in the mail and you'll have all that convenience. You won't have to pay an extra buck a trip," Sarles said. "It's a great souvenir... Some people like to have a souvenir."

The Fourth of July pass can only be used for Metrorail, not Metrobus, Sarles said.

The Inauguration SmarTrip cards have become something of a collector's item: Buyers on Thursday listed them for sale on eBay for as much as $49.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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