Timetables of metrobus are displayed at the bus stops (by Sheraton National Arlington hotel on my picture) but warning: only at some stops. There is no metrobus timetable at the stop by Fort Myer for example. Instead there is always a phone number where to call for information. Keep in mind that due to unpredictable traffic conditions in urban area of Arlington the metrobuses (in contrast to metrorails) may always come delayed.
WHERE TO FIND THE TIMETABLE
If there isn't on the bus stop you have a few option:
1. call the number shown on the bus stop sign if you have a cell phone,
2. ask at the hotel desk if there is any by the stop (Days Inn by Fort Myer),
3. find the detailed timetables of your line in the web here - download them and print out or put to your palmtop (PDA format).
After Washington, DC VT-meeting we (my wife, Kathy, Chris and me) came back to our hotel in Arlington first by metro than by metrobus. At our starting metro station in DC (behind the gates) we found a vending machine which gave us free so called transfers - a kind of tickets which entitled us later to pay a discounted metrobus fare of 35c (instead of $1.25), paid to a driver of our bus from Pentagon metro station to Sheraton National hotel.
1. Metrorail-to-Metrobus transfers
Get it at your start metro station (behind the gates) at the vending machine (it's free), one per person. Then show it to a driver of a metrobus to pay 35c (instead of $1.25) on regular Metrobus routes or $1.65 (instead of $3.00) on express routes. Warning: transfers are not valid for stopovers, return trips or within four blocks of where they are issued.
2. Metrobus-to-Metrobus transfers
When you board a bus ask your bus driver for a FREE transfer. This transfer is valid for unlimited Metrobus connections, including round trips, within the two-hour period shown on transfer. In case of traveling first regular route and then express one when you show your transfer you must pay the difference ($1.75) in an express bus.
Note: if you pay with a SmarTrip card (electronic card with a chip), you don't need a paper transfer - it works automatically.
Scheduled buses run by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) are called metrobuses. The company runs metro system, too and covers Washington DC and adjacent areas of Maryland and Northern Virginia.
METROBUS LINES AND STOPS
The metobus lines are named by 1 or 2-digit number and one letter (5A, 16A, 24P etc.). Metrobus stops are always marked by a sign, like on the picture, taken by Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington.
The route number and destination is displayed above the windshield. A destination sign is also located on the boarding side of the bus. Board the bus using the front door and either show the driver your pass/SmarTrip card or buy a single fare.
HOW TO PAY
When you board the bus you must have a change to buy a metrobus fare unless you have a pass or SmarTrip card. Metrobus drivers do not carry cash.
HOW MUCH TO PAY
There are Regular buses ($1.25) and Express buses ($3.00). Kids up to 4 years old travel free (up to 2 per one adult).
REGIONAL ONE DAY PASS ($3.00)
The pass gives a full day of unlimited rides regionwide on regular Metrobuses and other local buses. On express buses, the pass covers $1.25 of $3.00 fare. Pass expires at 3 am.
For $26 for adults & $13 for children, you can start your tour at any one of their stops (17+ stops) and get off at each one or just a couple, then get back on the next trolley; all for the one price. How the Tour Works: The trolleys travel through Washington on a continuous loop. Start the tour at any one of the 17 stops. (we started at Union Station which is the official starting point). Stay on board and get a fascinating narrative and a great overview of the city, until you return to your starting point in about 2 hours - OR hop off the trolley at a few of your favorite sights. Trolleys will roll by at least every 30 minutes. Then reboard and continue on with the tour until you return to your starting point. The earlier you start, the more time you have for visiting attractions, shopping, or dining. Tours begin daily at 9:00 am.
We got off at the Old Post Office and at the War Memorials. Got back to our starting point just in time to meet our son inlaw when he got out of work. Only had to wait 10 minutes for us.
I felt that it was very convenient. We didn't have to worry about parking or finding our way around by car in heavy traffic either. You get the added bonus of a tour guide that knows a lot of history about the area.
The tourmobile offers various tours besides Arlington cemetery
Here is a list of some of their tours:
- American Heritage Tour of Washington, D.C. & Arlington National Cemetery
- George Washington's Mount Vernon: Estate and Gardens Tour
- Frederick Douglass Historic Site
- Washington by Night (Seasonal call for information)
Go to their website for more info and costs...
At Arlington Cemetary.. you have the option of walking.. taking a tram or taking a bus tour. The tram is easy, nice if you have been walking all over the city already haha.. You can get on the tram and take your time at each stop.. if it leaves before your ready, you can just hop on the next tram as it comes by.
It goes to the most popular stops.. John F. Kennedy's gravesite, Tomb of the Unknown soldier and Arlington house.
Cost: Adult $6.00, Child (3-11) $3.00
During my last visit to the area, some classmates and I decided to take a trolley tour of DC. Since we were in class all day we had to take an evening tour. The price was $38 a person which seemed pretty reasonable. This is a great way to see the majority of the popular monuments and buildings but if you want to spend any amount of time touring this isn't a good choice.
MetroBus has 322 bus routes with over 12,000 scheduled stops in DC, Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties in Maryland, and Fairfax County, Virginia. Its 1500 buses operated all day and much of the night depending on the route. MetroBuses carry an average of almost 500,000 people per day on weekdays, about 250,000 on Saturdays, and only 150,000 passengers on Sundays. Fares on regular routes are $1.25 and $3 on express routes, plus $0.10 per trip without the SmartTrip card. Drivers do not carry change, and the money machines are slow to feed dollar bills, so get a SmartTrip card!
I took the MetroBus from Dulles Airport to Rosslyn Station (Express Route 5A). The bus was clean, safe, and quick. There were only about 2 stops between the airport and Rosslyn's Metro Station where I got off the bus. This $3 ride from the airport to downtown sure beats the $55 taxi ride!
We took the one day trolley tour to see the overview in one day. The downfall was we were doing two days in DC so we had too much walking for the second day. The other negitive was we were afraid to get down after 3:00 because the lines to get on the crowded buses were too long.
If you are traveling on a budget to/from DC to/from Boston, New York or Philadelphia look into taking one of the Chinatown buses. It is the cheapest form of transportation i.e., flights; trains or standard Greyhound buses. Plus, given gas prices and tolls it is cheaper than driving. For example one-way from NYC to DC is less than $20.
We were in Washington a few weeks ago (end of april). Because it was just a day trip on our way round the east coast, we decided to take a "hop-on-hop-off" bus tour to see as much we can. Unfortunately we settle for the "city sight seeing" tour with their red double decker buses because there was a brochure in the hotel lobby. We spend more than half of the time waitig for the bus!! The buses of the red line circulates supposedly every half of an hour, but it was more than one hour. Then we decided to take the other offered line: the blue line, which should go to Georgetown. We were waiting for 3 hours! We never saw the blue line even existed!
As you can imagine, we were disappointed and angry, so we planned to complain about their bad service. But the man just got angry and we didn´t obtain our money back.
Conclusion: never use this sight seeing tour when you visit Washington. The personal was unfriendly and the buses always late!
About 4 hours from NYC on the non stop bus it can be a VERY cheap way to arrive here. My last greyhound ticket was $20 one way. The buses are comfortable enough and for the price when on sale you really don't mind.
Of course Greyhound can get you anywhere in the country with enough time. So most are familiar with the idea at the least.