The projected operating costs for a regional smartcard financial clearing center totaled less than $4 million per year.

6 February 2007
Washington,District of Columbia,United States; Montgomery County,Maryland,United States; Fairfax County,Virginia,United States

Summary Information

The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission worked closely with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to develop a Regional Software Maintenance Agreement (RSMA). The agreement was designed to protect and ensure the participation of smaller transit agencies in the regional SmarTrip rollout. Prior to the agreement, smaller agencies were expected to pay $70,000 per year to maintain the smartcard fare collection system. For many, this amount was almost as much as the total farebox revenues.

The new agreement reduced costs for smaller agencies. Complex and expensive software previously designed to be used by individual agencies was consolidated into a central system. WMATA assumed centralized control and supported the complicated task of programming and maintaining fare tables, business rules, and fare products for participating agencies.

Under the RSMA, smaller agencies would pay $30,000 per year for the first two years, and approximately $23,000 per year thereafter. Software support, bug fixes, updates, and technical support were included in the agreement.

In addition, participating agencies were obligated to support an Operations Funding Agreement and share in the costs of operations at a Regional Customer Service Center (RCSC). The RCSC was designed to provide customer service and financial clearing for all SmarTrip transactions in the Baltimore-Washington regional area. The costs to each agency were shared proportionally depending on the number of smartcard transactions processed.

Based on the system expected to be deployed in 2003, the shared costs of the RCSC operating budget were estimated at $17.325 million for 5 years. The cost data below showing the components of the projected operating costs were drawn from Appendix A of the source report.

ItemCost (5 years)
RCSC contractor operating costs (Total)
Overhead (10%)
Project management (5%)
Audit of the RCSC system (Total)
IT support for the WMATA central computer (Total)
ACS Customer service transition

The amounts in the table reflect estimates of smartcard penetration assumptions. Actual operating costs may vary. The first year and part of the second year of operations include the start-up costs for ACS Customer Service (transition from local control to regional control) .

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Project Report: SmarTrip Regional Rollout

Published By: The U.S. DOT Federal Transit Administration

Prepared by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission for the U.S. DOT FTA

Source Date: 6 February 2007


System Cost

The total budget to rollout a regional SmarTrip fare collection system in the Washington, DC metropolitan area exceeded $150 million.


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Related Unit Cost Subsystems

Transit Management Center (TR)


smart cards, electronic fare payment, SmartCard, smart card, SmartCards

Cost ID: 2008-00132