Transportation in and around Washington, DC must be among the best in the world. You can get just about anywhere with a combination of the Metrorail, which is the subway system, and the Metrobus, which is the bus system. Together those two make living life in the DC Metro region a joy. Since I want others to enjoy the same luxury of traveling the area that I have had, I’m going to tell you the basics of how to use the metro. Hopefully after this article, you’ll feel confident enough to hitch a ride on the green line.
The prices are very reasonable. For the buses, a normal trip is $1.25. Express price is $3.00. The cool part about the whole set up is something called a transfer. When you get on the bus, you’ll be handed a little slip of paper. Hold on to it. Present it to the bus driver when you get on the bus the next time and you’ll get on the bus for free. I was amazed that I could ride round-trip for only a buck 25. Just be sure to look out for the time that the slip of paper says. Usually you’ll have 2 hours or so to use the transfer. You can’t use it after the time is up so plan your trip accordingly.
Metrorail is also very well priced. For barely four bucks you can ride from Maryland to Virginia. That’s why most people that work in DC opt to take the Metro to work every day. The thing to keep in mind with the subway is that the price is different depending on the time of day. Regular fare is during weekdays from 6am to 9:30 am, 3-7 pm, and 2 am to closing. This is peak traveling time for the train, so it makes sense to charge a little more since the trains run more frequently. All other times are reduced fair.
Also, if plan you get off the subway and use a bus, be sure to get a transfer for the station. It should be somewhere near the gate when you are about to board the train. If you present this to the driver of the bus after you get off the train, you’ll only have to pay 35 cents to ride the bus. Just be sure to get the transfer from the station you are boarding, not at the one you are arriving.
Now, I must highly recommend getting a Smartcard if you intend on frequently using the Metro system of transportation. It’s a little card that you can purchase at any station for $5.00. You can place money on this card and use it to pay for your rides on the bus and the subway. I guess they call it a Smartcard because it eliminates the need for paper transfers. The card automatically gives you whatever discounts are coming to you based on your usage of it. It’s so much better than keeping track of papers and whatnot. You can also register your Smartcard so that if it gets lost your balance will be safe.
In the next part of this series, I’m going to teach you how to navigate around the metro stations.