LIFT study-specific SmarTrip cards—Metro's payment technology for bus and rail—were programed with 9 months of the relevant discounts, then provided to residents according to their assigned group. Residents assigned to get no discounts on transit did not get a SmarTrip card from LIFT. Regardless of their assigned group, everyone who applied to LIFT and was deemed eligible will get a $25 Visa gift card. Residents in the treatment groups were directed to pick up their LIFT study-provided SmarTrip cards at WMATA’s Transit Accessibility Center from January 27 through February 24, 2023. In-person pick-up was the sole way for residents in the two treatment groups to get their study-provided SmarTrip cards until the end February 2023. We set the deadline for the pick-up period based on the expected pace of pickup; based on budget, our goal was for no more than 500 LIFT SmarTrip cards to require mailing (which was more time and resource intensive). For the cards remaining after the pickup deadline was passed, we mailed the cards to study participants on March 13, 2023.
The discounts will work when participants pay their fare on Metrobus, Metrorail, DC Circulator, and other regional bus partners in Maryland and Virginia. Those regional bus partners include Arlington Transit (ART), the City of Fairfax-University Energysaver Bus System (CUE), the Driving Alexandria Safely Home (DASH), the Fairfax Connector, TheBus in Prince George’s County, and Ride On buses in Montgomery County.