Hoya Transit Pilot Program

Program Overview

The Hoya Transit Pilot program is designed to help inform decisions related to sustainable and affordable transportation near the University’s campuses and in the surrounding areas for our students, based on actual ridership data and student feedback. 

Undergraduate and graduate students from all campuses were invited to apply for the Fall 2022 semester pilot, and applicant students received a $100 credit for the semester applied to a SmarTrip account to be used toward transit passes or standard pay-as-you-go transit. 

Students were invited to express their interest by November 30 for participation in the Spring 2022 semester pilot.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: How will I know if I am selected?

A: All students that expressed interest were selected to participate in the Spring 2023 Pilot program and were provided instructions on how to enroll on December 6, 2022. Students participating for the first time in the pilot program must complete enrollment by December 20, 2022. Students who participated in the fall pilot program do not need to take any action and will be automatically re-enrolled to receive transit pilot funding in their WMATA SmarTrip account.

Q: What if I am selected to participate but miss the December 20 WMATA enrollment deadline?

A: The funds deposit process is automated by WMATA on the first day of the month, which means that missing the December 20 enrollment deadline would result in funds not being deposited on January 1. The funds deposit would be delayed by one month and would be deposited on February 1.

Q: I tapped my SmarTrip card after the 1st of the month, but the funds did not load.  How do I receive the funds?

A: The WMATA system stores the funds autoload data for a specific SmarTrip card only at stations where the card has been tapped previously.  If your initial tap was at a station where you have not been before, then it should now be captured in the system, and you can tap a second time at that same station to receive the funds autoload.

Q: I selected the Transit Pass benefit category, but how do I purchase the passes?

A:  The funds for the Transit Pass benefit category are allotted to your SmarTrip account but will not show up as “stored value” on your card because passes are purchased online through your account and then assigned to your SmarTrip card after purchase.  This WMATA transit pass document lists pass prices, and on page 2 of the document, in the “Getting Started” section, there are instructions on how to purchase passes.

Q: When does the program start and end?

A:  The pilot program will be conducted in two phases – one for the fall semester and one for the spring semester. The fall semester phase will begin in October 2022 and end in December 2022. The spring semester phase will begin in January 2023 and end on May 31, 2023.

Q: What happens to any Pilot funds that I receive that are not used?

A: Any Pilot program funds that are provided that are unused by May 31, 2023 will be automatically returned to the university and no longer accessible to students. 

Q: Will my personal data (e.g., PII, trip data, account information) be viewed by the university?

A: No personally identifiable information (PII) will be shared with the university by WMATA, nor will the university have access to individual account information. All ridership data provided to the university for analysis will be anonymized.

Q: Can I request a second subsidy if I use all of mine before the end of the semester?

A: In order to ensure even distribution of cards in this pilot program, one $100 SmarTrip credit is available to each participant per semester. Participants will be able to complete a voluntary survey at the end of each phase of the pilot, which will include an opportunity to provide feedback related to multiple elements of the program, including the credit amount and whether any additional funds were needed to cover their transit needs during the pilot time frame.   

Q: What is the goal of the program?

A: The goal of the pilot is to respond to student input from the 2021-22 academic year to consider more support for mass transit. The purpose of the pilot is to gauge student interest and ridership on WMATA transportation during the academic year. The university will be seeking student feedback on the structure throughout the pilot. In order to determine how best to support our student populations, the university hopes to gather data and feedback during a pilot program related to overall ridership, transit type, trip duration, frequency and geographic area. The data and student feedback gathered during the pilot program will be used to inform university public transportation options and offerings.  

Q: Why not offer WMATA’s UPASS to students instead since it provides unlimited rides?

A: WMATA’s U-Pass program is not a flexible opt-in or opt-out program based on individual student interest. Student leadership has conveyed a significant desire on behalf of the student body to participate in a public transit program, such as U-Pass; however, we have very little data related to actual student ridership and utilization of the WMATA transit system. This pilot program aims to help determine which transportation options and offerings are best suited to our student population, based on actual ridership data and student feedback.

Q: Are there limitations on how I can use the funds, if I am awarded them?

A: The funds can be used toward transit passes or standard pay-as-you-go transit. Transit passes and standard transit fares offer different options and benefits, and students will have the flexibility to select between them, based on their travel needs.

Q: Do I need an active SmarTrip card to be eligible for the program?

A: An active SmarTrip account is required in order to receive the funds. Selected participants who do not already have an active SmarTrip account will be able to create an account during the enrollment process. 

Q: When will funds be available for use?

A: Funds are deposited by WMATA on the first of each month. Enrollment must be completed by the 20th of each month in order to receive the funds for the following month. For example, enrollment must be completed by December 20 in order for the funds to be available on January 1.

Q: I am an evening student. How do I know if I’m considered full-time or part-time?

A:  Full-time designation is defined as being enrolled in 12+ credit hours for undergraduate students and 9+ credit hours for graduate students, regardless of the time of day or days of the week that you attend classes.