Google has been working hard to expand the utility of Google Pay, not just across thousands of banks, but for more types of transactions. One of these is public transit payments and passes, previously available in select cities in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Singapore, Russia, and Ukraine. Today Google is adding support for the transit system of the United States capital, Washington DC.
Metro riders can now load their SmarTrip cards into Google Pay, using it at NFC-equipped train stations, busses, and public parking lots. Users can re-up prepaid balances or pay for a monthly unlimited pass. Metro notes that the payment functionality is supported on phones only, so no NFC-equipped Wear OS watches are invited to the party.
Note that once you activate a digital card within Google Pay, the corresponding physical card is deactivated (just like Clipper card in the San Francisco area). So if you’re out and about and your phone’s battery dies, you’ll need to pay for a ride with some other method or else find a quick charge. Apple, which also supports public transit via Apple Pay, has a basic solution for this on iPhones: even if there’s not enough power left to actually turn on the phone, payments, public transit cards, and access keys may still work via the secure element.
Washington DC is a good get for Google Pay. Not only is it a considerable urban hub in its own right, it’s also one of the most visited, with tens of millions of tourists and international travelers for business and diplomacy every year.