Metro SelectPass: The Public Transportation Gift That Keeps On Giving

Alright, this post is a shout-out to all of my DC-based followers (read: me and only me).  I’m going to let you in on a little secret that WMATA has been keeping from us all.  Well, they advertised it in their trains and stations, so maybe they weren’t trying to keep it from us.  Regardless, the majority of DC-area residents I speak to have never heard of the little money saving gem known as SelectPass.

For those of you whose employer does not cover the cost of public transportation (once again, read: me), you likely pay per rail trip.  As you know, rail trip costs are based on distance between the rail station at which you start and the rail station at which you end, as well as whether the trip falls during peak or off-peak hours.

The beauty of SelectPass is that it allows you to pay a flat monthly fee to cover all trips up to a certain price; for any trips above that price you would simply pay the difference.

Say, for example, that your daily work commute costs $2.60 one-way.  Let’s do some quick math here.  Don’t worry, I promise it won’t be too hard.

Without SelectPass

Without SelectPass you would pay $2.60 per trip x 2 times a day x 22 working days per month = $114.40 a month.

With SelectPass

SelectPass allows you to pick a trip cost amount ranging from $2.00 to $6.00 in $0.25 increments.  So for the above example commute we could pick the $2.50 SelectPass, which costs $90.00 a month.  All trips up to $2.50 would be covered, so each work commute you would pay $0.10 out of pocket ($2.60 commute cost – $2.50 covered by SelectPass).

$0.10 x 2 times a day x 22 working days per month = $4.40 out of pocket + $90 SelectPass = $94.40 a month. 

In this example, SelectPass would save you $20 a month, or $240 a year!

That’s great and all, but it gets better.  The example we just used assumes that you are going to work and coming home – never to ride the metro for any other reason.  It does not take into account that you are likely also riding the metro to run errands, meet up with friends, get groceries, etc.  If you’re like me, my work commute is my farthest, so most of my other commutes are shorter and thus covered by SelectPass, which saves me even more money!

Now before all of you car-only people start ragging on the fact that we here in the DC-area pay $100 for transportation each month, I want to point out that by going car-free I don’t pay for a car payment, cost of parking, depreciation cost of the vehicle, auto insurance, gas, parking tickets, car maintenance, or the cost of any auto accidents in which one may be involved.  Plus my commute is a pleasant, stress-free time to read the paper and relax.

I wrote mostly about rail trips here since I take metrorail 95% of the time, but SelectPass does have some rail + bus combinations.  However, I find metrorail to be much more reliable, faster, and since I have the rail-only SelectPass, actually cheaper than riding the bus.

You can check out the WMATA website for more information regarding SelectPass, as well as a breakdown of the price of each pass.  By their calculations, as long as you commute at least 18 days of the month, you essentially get the rest of the month free.  I’ve been using SelectPass for over two years and haven’t looked back.

July 8, 2019 Update:

As of July 1, 2019, all WMATA passes, including monthly SelectPass, will now include unlimited free bus trips.  What that means is you save even more by purchasing a SelectPass.


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