Getting Around: Metro and More

By John Martinez, Host Committee Member

We hope that while you are in Washington for the conference that you also plan to explore the city and its sights. Beyond the monuments and museums there are many other attractions in the area such as historic neighborhoods, parks, theaters, and of course, restaurants and brewpubs. You have several transportation options while you are here, and we’ll give you a rundown on some of the best ways to get around (Tip #1: Do Not Drive Yourself!).

13506vMetro train on Washington, D.C.’s subway system arrives at the suburban Twinbrook station in Rockville, Maryland (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2011631700/)

Metrorail

The Metro and public bus system are run by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). The WMATA website is the best place to plan your travel on public transportation. Use the trip planner on the webpage — it will tell you where to catch the bus or Metro, how much it will cost, and how long it will take, and it is the easiest way to plan your journey.

The Metro travels to various points around the city and surrounding suburbs. To see a map of the Metro system, click here. The closest stop to the conference hotel is Woodley Park, which is on the Red line. Remember to keep track of your personal belongings while using public transportation — especially cell phones, which become easy targets for theft when you’re focusing on them instead of your surroundings. Some basic tips:

  • SmarTrip cards: To ride the Metro you will purchase a SmarTrip card. You can purchase one of these and have it mailed to you before the conference, but it’s just as easy to buy one in any Metro station once you get here. The SmarTrip machines are usually located next to the regular fare machines. It should cost $10 to buy a card — $2 of that is the cost of the card, and then you will have $8 remaining for any trips you might make. They’re easy to refill at the regular fare machines once you’ve gone through that initial $8, if you’re traveling a lot. WMATA provides a short video that shows you how to purchase a card, add value to it, and use it on the Metro system.
  • Fares: Fares differ depending on distance and time of day. In each station, the fare machines have a list of how much it costs to get to every other Metro station during regular hours and rush hours. Fares vary depending on how far you’re traveling and what time of day it is. To see more about fares, click here.
  • People with disabilities: The WMATA has worked to ensure that all stations are accessible. Metro stations are equipped with elevators, though sometimes they are being repaired — if that’s the case, people who need to use elevators travel to nearby stations and take a shuttle bus to the station with the elevator outage. This page gives the service status for each elevator and escalator in the Metro system. This is also a good tool for people who might have trouble getting up and down stairs, but can take escalators.
  • Maps: At each station, you’ll find maps detailing the entire Metro system as well as the neighborhood surrounding the station itself. These neighborhood maps are especially helpful, as they show you where the escalators exit the stations (and which way you’ll be facing once you get to the top of the escalator). This allows you to see exactly which way you need to go to get to your destination upon exit.

Metrobus

The bus system in the DMV (D.C., Maryland, and Virginia) area is extensive. The WMATA website provides maps for different areas, and you can access timetables for each route online as well. As with the Metro, you’ll save money by using a SmarTrip card —  fares don’t vary much, but still depend on which bus you’re taking. For those of you on a budget, it is cheaper to take buses than the Metro. The bus system will also get you to many neighborhoods that are not accessible by Metro. Here are some buses with stops near the conference site: L1 and L2; 90 and 96; and X3 — for one-way trips, all of these routes should cost $2.00. You’ll need exact change if you’re using cash, as bus drivers do not carry money to give change.

Additionally, the Circulator bus (separate from regular WMATA buses) travels to many areas of the city for just $1. You can use a SmarTrip card or cash for the Circulator. It has five different routes through the city, one of which starts and ends in the Woodley Park neighborhood at 24th Street and Connecticut Avenue NW, conveniently close to the conference hotel.

Taxi

D.C.’s Metro system will likely bring you anywhere you want to go in the district, but sometimes you find yourself needing a taxi. Not to worry, there are a few options available to you. Like many other metropolitan cities, the best way to find a taxi is to hail one. They are plentiful and drive around at all hours of the day and night. All taxis should accept credit cards and are safe, affordable alternatives late at night or if your destination is ample walking distance from a Metro stop. If you prefer to use a service such as Uber or Lyft, you should have no trouble if you choose one of those alternatives.

DC Streetcar

The DC Streetcar is the newest addition to the transportation mix, though it provides a (very) limited option. It consists of only one line: a 2.5 mile segment that runs from Union Station, up H street to Benning Road. The streetcar segment passes through the H Street Corridor, an attractive neighborhood with restaurants, shops and other attractions. DC Streetcar rides are currently free, and you can check for any changes in the fare here.

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