- Application Questions
- My SmarTrip® card has been lost/stolen or it has stopped working. What should I do?
- How do I apply to receive the monthly transit subsidy?
NIH Transhare applications can be submitted online, in person, by email, or via fax at (301) 480-0854.
Please note that regardless of the submittal method, if you need a SmarTrip® card, you will have to come to the NIH Parking Office in person, Monday through Friday, 7:30AM-4:30PM. If you would rather not have to come to the Parking Office, or it is difficult you can always purchase a SmarTrip card from Metro or another retailer.
- How do I determine my month commuting costs?
Depending on the transit provider, you may have to calculate your monthly costs. A good tool for this is WMATA’s trip planner which determines one-way trip cost for a majority of the Washington, DC area. Then just multiply your one-way costs by 2 to get your daily. Once you have your daily, multiply by the total number of work days in an average month to obtain your monthly costs. Any days you regularly telework should be subtracted from your total monthly commuting days.
Typical Commuting Days in a Month
8 hour days
Example: 8 hour days
One-Way costs: $3.20 x 2 = $6.40 Daily x 20 work days = $128 monthly costs
- How do I check to see if my application has been approved and processed?
If you submitted your application online, you will receive an email confirmation, stating that your application is being processed. Once your application has been approved, you will receive another email to complete your process and some further information. Our system will also generate automatic emails for modifications, renewals and terminations. Please do not reply to these emails. Contact the NIH Parking Office if necessary, (301) 496-505.
If you submit your application in person, you will receive confirmation before you leave the Parking Office.
- I just found out about the program, but I have been taking mass transportation for some time. Can I be reimbursed for these expenses?
No, unfortunately we cannot provide reimbursements for personal money previously spent on mass transportation before an employee enrolls in the NIH Transhare program.
- Do I need a SmarTrip® Card if I ride in a Vanpool, MARC, VRE, Commuter Bus, Metro Access etc.?
Yes, the card is the mechanism that enables NIH to provide your monthly subsidy. For these modes of transit you must use either CommuterDirect.com (VRE & MARC) or WMATA's allocation system (vanpools, commuter buses and all other non-SmarTrip,® enabled modes of transit). For more information please visit our page, full listing is provided Using Your SmarTrip,® Card.
- Member Questions
- How do I use transit benefits on a mode of transit that is not SmarTrip® enabled (i.e vanpool, MARC, VRE, etc.)?
Instructions vary by provider, but generally an allocation to your desired transit provider must be established with WMATA. For more details and specific instructions for your transit provider, please see, Using your SmarTrip® card.
- Can I use transit benefits to pay for parking?
No. Parking costs have never been allowed as part of the NIH Transhare Program. This rule is outlined in our Transhare Policy, as well as in numerous other federal agencies. Program participants must certify annual to not use the benefits to pay for parking or receive parking benefits.
The subsidy that NIH issues on SmarTrip cards will not be permitted to pay for parking at Metro facilities. Personal funds can be loaded in the stored value purse on the SmarTrip Card to pay for parking. Even if you have $245 in your transit benefit purse, you cannot pay for parking with transit benefit funds!
- What if I change positions at NIH? What if I change from a fellow to an employee?
As long as your NED record (or your NIH ID) remains active, you will continue to receive your transit subsidy.
- My SmarTrip card has been lost/stolen or it has stopped working. What should I do?
- I have recently moved or my method of commuting has changed. How can I adjust my monthly commuting costs?
This can be done 24 hours a day online through our CAPS system. For more information or other options to change your information please see our Modification page.
- I need to drive to work today because I have a Doctor’s appointment, or I need to take my child to school. How can I get a temporary parking permit?
NIH Transhare members are authorized up to six (6) temporary parking permits per calendar quarter (e.g. Jan.-Mar). These temporary permits are valid for one day only. Members cannot carry over unused permits from quarter to quarter.
All permits must be picked up in person at the NIH Parking Office. Permit requests may be made in person, via email, or over the phone, (301) 496-5050. Permits must be printed for each member’s request and may take a few minutes (depending on customer volume), so please plan accordingly if requesting in person.
- How do I use my transit benefits?
- Why does the NIH Transhare Program make me recertify annually?
The annual recertification process allows NIH to comply with all regulations, policies and guidance set for by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. The recertification allows NIH to know each employee has understood their responsibilities under the program at least once a year.
- I am leaving NIH, or I want to drive to work. How do I withdraw from the program?
You can be removed from the program at any time. Please visit our Termination page for more information or log into our CAPS system. If you know you are leaving in a few weeks, you can elect to have your termination take effect on a certain date. Once you are removed from the program, you will be eligible to receive other benefits, such as a parking permit, or a bike subsidy.
- SmarTrip Cards
- Do I have to buy my own SmarTrip® Card?
Eligible employees are offered SmarTrip® cards when joining the NIH Transhare Program. Employees can elect to use their own personal card, or they may be issued one card by NIH. NIH will not replace any card that is lost, stolen or damaged, the employee must replace the card at his or hers own expense.
- Where can I get a SmarTrip® Card?
SmarTrip® cards can be purchased at Metrorail stations with parking facilities, Commuter Stores, CVS stores, Metro online purchases, or at over 400 retail locations across the Washington, DC Metro area. Please view the WMATA Sales Locations page for a full listing.
If you already own a SmarTrip® card, you will need to register it correctly with WMATA in order for the NIH Parking Office to be able to make your transit benefit available on your card.
- How do I use transit benefits on a mode of transit that is not SmarTrip® enabled (i.e vanpool, MARC, VRE, etc.)?
Instructions vary by provider, but generally an allocation to your desired transit provider must be established with WMATA. For more details and specific instructions for your transit provider, please see, Using your SmarTrip® card on Transit Providers without SmarTrip® card readers.
- Why does my card display $0 balance at the farecard & pass machine?
All WMATA SmarTrip cards have multiple “purses” or accounts that store various funds or money.
Transit Benefit Purse: The transit benefit purse is loaded on the first of the month by funds made available by NIH. It will hold as much as your certified monthly commuting cost (not to exceed $245). Funds from this purse are spent first, before personal funds, when commuting until the entire benefit allotment has been depleted. Any unused funds do not rollover at the end of the month. These funds cannot be used for parking expenses (compliant with IRS regulations). Funds cannot be transferred into the personal stored value purse. You may view the balance at faregate, farebox, or online through a SmarTrip® Online Account, but not at farecard & pass machines.
Personal Stored Value Purse: The personal stored value purse contains your personal funds for parking or transit and holds up to $300. Funds may be added at Metrostation kiosks or online. Funds on this purse do roll over from month to month. You may view the balance at farecard & pass machines, parking lot SmarTrip® targets, faregates (only after you have spent all transit benefit purse funds for the month), or online through a SmarTrip® Online Account.
*Important Note: You must have personal funds in the personal stored value purse in order to leave a Metro parking facility. Even if you have $245 in your transit benefit purse, you cannot pay for parking with transit benefit funds!
- What is a WMATA SmarTrip® Card?
A SmarTrip® card is a permanent, rechargeable farecard. It's plastic, like a credit card, and is embedded with a special computer chip that keeps track of the value of the card.
Using a SmarTrip® card is fast and easy. Instead of inserting a farecard through the Metrorail faregate slot, you simply touch the SmarTrip® card to the circular targets on top of or inside station faregates. Likewise, you can tap the SmarTrip® farebox on Metrobus to pay your fare with SmarTrip®.
SmarTrip® cards can be used directly on the following modes of transit:
Metro Train/Metro Bus
PRTC - OmniRide
ART (Arlington Transit)
DASH (Alexandria Transit Company)
CUE Bus System
TheBus (Prince George’s County)
Loudoun Commuter Bus
Montgomery County RideOn
REX (Richmond Highway Express)
SmarTrip® cards cannot be used directly on the following modes of transit. You must use a transit benefit allocation for service on the following transit providers (further details can be found at our website, Using your SmarTrip® Card):
MTA Commuter Buses (Dillon, Keller, Eyre Buses)
National Coach Works/ MARTZ
- Program Information & Policies
- What is the NIH Transhare Program?
The NIH Transhare Program is an employer-provided mass transportation fare subsidy that is offered to eligible employees who use mass transportation for their commute to and from work. Employees are provided their monthly subsidy benefits electronically through WMATA registered SmarTrip® cards.
- How did the NIH Transhare Program originate?
The NIH fist began offering a transportation subsidy in 1992 to employees. In 2000, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13150, “Federal Workplace Transportation,” which requires Federal agencies to provide employee incentives to use mass transportation to commute to and from work.
- Who is eligible to receive mass transit benefits?
To be eligible to receive a monthly mass transportation subsidy you must meet one of the criteria below:
- A full time employee of NIH
- An employee of another HHS agency, whose worksite is at the NIH Main campus and is not currently receiving a transit subsidy from HHS or any other agency
- A fellow of NIH
- A volunteer at NIH
- Paid interns/students hired for the summer months
The following types of employees are NOT ELIGIBLE to receive the subsidy from NIH:
- Guests of NIH
- Any person, regardless of status that is receiving any parking or bicycle benefits
- Any employee or similiar that is receiving any other transportation or parking benefit from another agency.
- Do I have to turn in my parking permit in order to receive transit benefits?
Yes, if you wish to receive a Transportation subsidy, you must surrender any NIH issued parking privileges (e.g. NIH Parking Hanger, Passcard, Key Fob, etc.). Employees may not receive parking and transportation benefits at the same time. While on the NIH Transhare program, you would be eligible for six (6) temporary passes per calendar quarter.
- Are vanpool riders authorized to receive monthly transit benefits?
Yes, if the vanpool is registered with WMATA (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, aka Metro). NIH employees riding in a valid vanpool may have their benefits electronically allocated to their vanpool operator’s account. Contractors or guests may ride in any NIH vanpool, but will not receive the subsidy from NIH (please contact your employer to see what benefits they offer).
- Are carpool riders authorized to receive monthly transit benefits?
No, unfortunately carpool riders or drivers are not authorized to receive any mass transportation benefits due to IRS tax code limitations.
- What is the maximum amount of subsidy I can receive?
Currently the maximum limit is $245 per month. This limit is determined by IRS tax code.
- Is the transit benefit I receive taxable?
No. Transit benefits are not taxable and do not have to be recorded on your tax returns.
- Is there an expiration date on my monthly transit benefits?
Yes. Your monthly subsidy can only be used during the month they are issued electronically to your SmarTrip® Card. Unused benefits will expire at the end of the month and be returned to NIH.
- Can I give or sell my benefits to someone?
NO! Transit benefits are used for traveling to and from your work location. They are not transferable or intended to be used for your leisure. Selling or distributing your transit benefits violates the self-certification on your submitted application. This certification concerns a matter within the jurisdiction of an agency of the United States and making a false, fictitious or fraudulent certification may render the maker subject to criminal prosecution under Title 18, United States Code Section 1001, Civil Penalty Action, providing for administrative recoveries of up to $10,000 per violation, and/or agency disciplinary actions up to and including dismissal.
- Can I use Transhare Benefits for commuting that is work related?
No. Executive Order 13150 states the program must follow IRS tax code. The tax code defines commuting as travel to and from an employee’s home to their permanent worksite. This does not include temporary duty (conferences, meetings, etc.) If you would like to be reimbursed for travel expenses incurred on official duty, speak with your supervisor and Administrative Officer.