Yesterday, WMATA announced that SmarTrip users would be able to load 7-day bus passes onto their cards starting October 17.

Transit users will be able to jettison one card from their wallets.  Passes extend for 7 days from when they’re first used, as opposed to the current system where they have to run from Sunday to Saturday. 

Users can load two consecutive weeks’ passes at once.  The passes can be used for Metrobuses and more than half a dozen other local bus systems, including Ride On, Circulator, CUE, and DART.

There are some drawbacks. Loading the $15 passes ($7.50 for the elderly and disabled) can only happen at certain locations, mostly retailers and few stations.  Paper passes are being phased out; the last ones will expire January 1, 2011. 

There’s no word in the press release on how the passes will interact with Metro transfers. Will passholders who get off the bus and onto the Metro get the fifty-cent transfer that other bus riders get?  In the pilot, they haven’t been, and Michael Perkins recommended keeping the transfer cost equal to the cost for cash fare riders.

If you already use a bus pass, what do you think?  If you don’t, will you start now?

Stacy Braverman lives in Southwest DC and works as a lawyer in Shaw.  She has a master’s degree in urban planning and a law degree from the University of Michigan, and is a LEED Accredited Professional.