NEW YORK - The Smart Card Alliance, a New York association dedicated to promoting smart card use, awarded its 10th annual Outstanding Smart Card Application Award to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for its smart card transit system, called SmarTrip.

SmarTrip, set up in May 1999, was the first smart card transit system adopted in the United States and now has 170,000 cards in circulation. They can be used on Washington's subway system and at commuter parking lots. All together, commuters take 650,000 trips a day on the subway.

Gregory Garback, executive officer for department of finance and program development at the transit authority, who accepted the award, estimated that the SmarTrip program has 55% to 60% penetration among the Washington area's transit riders.

Past award winners have included Wyoming's WIC electronic benefits transfer program, the French smart bank card program, the German health care card, and the U.S. Department of Defense MARC ID Card.

A Smart Card Alliance spokeswoman said that early adopters and programs get special consideration in the judging. A panel of smart card industry experts judges the nominees. The prize is awarded annually at the CardTech/SecurTech smart card conference, which is sponsored by Thomson Financial Media, parent company of American Banker.

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