The Washington Metrorail system is a very good one and is the easiest and cheapest way to get around the city. The only place that you can;t get very close to is the Tidal Basin wher the Jefferson and Roosevelt Memorials are. The stations and trains are clean and attractive, the service is fairly frequent and it is less expensive than some cities. I don’t fully understand the fare system, but it varies depending upon the distance traveled. It seems to me the best deal is to buy a pass for whatever period of time you need it. These are good over the whole metro. As we were there for a week we bought seven day passes which allowed unlimited travel with the added benefit of avoiding trying to figure out how much the fare was from one place to another or worrying about change and purchasing tickets.
The metro operates 5:00 a.m. to midnight Sunday-Thursday and 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. on Friday & Saturday. Fares are:
Per trip -$1.35 to $3.90 depending on distance. Seniors get a 50% discount.
1 day pass - $6.50
7 day pass - $32.50
We got the one day pass, at a reasonable $5 each. Together with the map and timetable, this by far beats looking for parking and keeping up with parking meters. We tried to avoid rush hour, and managed to escape it all but once, leaving us to stand in the Metro. Not bad. All connections were on time, so this gets a thumbs up.
Absolutly the best way to get around DC is the Metro. Its safe, fast, and convinient. It has been around since the 1970's. I take the Metro every morning from Dupont Circle to Shady Grove. It covers Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC. The most you will have to pay will be $3.90 eatch way during rush hour. You can buy all day passes after 9:30am, and save some money if you will be riding the metro all day.
There are numerous metro fares, passes and farecards available:
- for metrorail, for metrobus and for both;
- valid for single trip, for 1 day or 7 days.
I purchased metrorail fares and once One Day Pass.
SINGLE METRORAIL TRIP ($1.35 - $3.90)
To purchase right metrorail fare in farecard vending machines in metrorail stations I had to know how much it was. There is a list of all metro stations and fares to them put on the kiosk by the gates (enlarge my picture).
There are two fares shown:
- regular fare (peak fare in effect on weekdays from opening to 9.30 am, 3-7 pm and 2 am to closing; $1.35 - $3.90)
- reduced fare (off peak fare all other times; $1.35 - $2.35)
Example fares to Federal Center SW metro station close to US capitol (reduced/regular; time of travel):
- Union Station: $1.35/$1.35; 16 min.
- Archives - Navy Memorial: $1.35/$ 1.35; 10 min.
- Tenleytown-AU: $1.35/$2.00; 24 min.
- Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington $1.35/$1.50; 15 min.
ONE DAY PASS
I paid $6.50 for the pass purchased in a vending machine. It was valid for one day of unlimited Metrorail travel on weekdays after 9:30 a.m. or all day on Saturdays, Sundays or federal holidays. Pass expires at the end of the operating day: 3 am on Fridays and Saturdays, midnight on other nights. All Metrorail passes are gate-activated. The faregate activates the pass the first time it is used and prints the last valid date on the pass.
Follow the link below to get up-to-date information on passes and farecards.
DC's Metro system is a design success. I feel totally safe there. It is always clean and there are plenty of clear helpful signs to guide you through. I have never stopped talking about this system since it was first opened. One of the best in the world. Numerous design details worth noting. Take a ride. Look around. Come up that "mile high" escalator to emerge in the middle of the sunny mall just by the Smithsonian Castle. It's a marvel.
the reagan national airport has a metro station which is the easiest and cheapest way to get to downtown washington dc. you can purchase fare cards at machines at the station. there are two types of machines, one for cash, and one for credit cards. a fare card costs $10.00 which is good for unlimited travel on the metro until the money runs out. another option is the one day unlimited fare card for $ 6.50 or the seven day unlimited fare card for $ 22.00. if you are spending more than three days in washington and plan to use the metro for your transportation around the city the 7 day card is the best deal. a metro map can be downloaded from their website. the metro is very safe in n.w. and central d.c. but you should inquire about the safety of stations in outlying areas.
I purchased both single farecards and One Day Pass at farecard vending machines in metrorail stations. They are numerous and always located just before the gates.
There are two kinds of farecard vending machines:
- marked Farecards (on my picture) sells single farecards only;
- marked Passes/Farecards accept cash and credit cards, and sell passes, and single or multiple farecards.
Metro fares are available online, in metro sales offices, retail outlets, commuter stores and metrobus divisions. Follow the link below to get up-to-date information.
Washington, as far as capital cities go, has one of the newest subway systems available. The cars are smooth-running and immaculate and the stations are uniformly designed to reduce the noise of incoming trains. During rush hour trains move swiftly, but on off hours there might be delays of upwards of 15 to 20 minutes. Unfortunately, Washington charges higher fares the farther out you go, rather than one set fare per ride. Beautiful system and easy to use. Self-service ticket vending machines available.
This is a great way to get around DC.
A day pass costs $5 and cards are available from every metro station from ticket machines. Its best to have the correct money as there are no change machines.
Quite an easy system to get the hang of, each station having large maps to enable you to see where you want to go, and also on the trains themselves.
These day passes cannot be used before 9.30am though except at the weekends.
Metro's can be excessively full though during the commuter times in the week so its best to avoid them at those times.
If you are arriving at Dulles airport and want to get into the heart of DC then the Metro bus is great value.
At a cost of $2.50 it will take you to the Department of Transport in downtown DC which is the L'Enfant Plaza Station and is only a couple of blocks from the Smithsonian.
This journey takes approximately 1 hour.
You can get the bus outside the airport buildings at Curb 2E. The driver does not handle money, so you have to have $2 change which you put in a machine which is on the bus to receive your ticket.
If you need any information consult with the information desk located on the lower level of Dulles terminal.
Alternative means of transport is the Washington Flyer (coaches) however they will charge you $24 dollars and drop you at Falls Church Metro Station where you will then have to get a metro into DC.
I would say the Metro Bus at $2 is absolutely fantastic value.
Taxi's are plentiful but cost around $40.
- I found this for me to be the most efficient and fastest way to get around
AIR FORCE ONE
I was lucky and honored to have been able to enter this amazing aircraft and to see how the interior was! We do indeed have a powerful country.
Has been known to be fiercely competitive card player
The Washington DC area has some of the worst traffic in the country. I highly recommend Metro, our subway system, for getting around downtown and to some of the close-in suburbs. It is easy to use and you can either pay by the trip or get a pass. Fares for by-the-trip travel are calculated from where you enter the system to where you exit it, and are higher during peak usage times (morning and evening commuter "rush hours"). Passes can be a good deal but aren't valid until after 9:30am. There are some unwritten "rules" on Metro (see my cultural tips), but the biggest written rule to follow is no eating or drinking on board. You'll find Metro cars and stations to be clean and pleasant.
One of the easiest ways to get around Washington DC is by using the Metro.
The metro consists out of 5 coloured lines: Red, Orange, Blue, Green and Yellow. Its very easy to use and trains are very regular and very clean!
The only confusing thing was purchasing a ticket as I needed to ask someone for assisstance as the ticket machines are quite strange.
So what you do is as you enter the station you will see the a booth and on this booth will be a list of all the destinations and a price next to it. So choose where you want to go and see what it costs.
Then you go to the ticket machine and enter your money and with the white switches, you move select what the fare is, and then confirm by pressing another button. It will then issue your ticket and give you change.
Its quite a strange system, but if you ask anyone there, they will be able to assist you.
I first road Washington's metro system when it was relatively new and I was impressed. I kept thinking why cannot Toronto's subway look like this as Washington's was so clean and modern. It has such neat gimmicks as flashing lights as the trains approached and the station looked like beehives. I still enjoyed riding the metro when I visited in 1995 but I understand that service has been on the decline since. It has become overcrowded and maintenance issues persists.
Riding the metro is best for tourists at none peak times. Tickets are bought from a dispenser which takes only coins and fares depend on how far you are traveling upon the system. They can cost as much as $5.00. There are also daypasses and weekpasses which can be usual but not for me since I was relatively close to most of Washington's attractions during my last visit.
Entrances to each metro station are marked by tall brown columns with a large "M" on each side and with the name of the station, just like on my picture of Pentagon City Station in Arlington. The color stripes at the top (blue and yellow on my picture) show which Metrorail lines serve that station. The stations are always marked on all maps of Washington DC, I saw.
To get to the nearest metro station you can:
- take a metrobus
- take a shuttle van/bus from your hotel (ask at the desk).
Keep in mind that in a downtown the metrorail goes underground whereas outside they often run above ground with the station located above as well. Follow the link below to see up-to-date list of metro stations/stops.