Washington D.C. Metro System
Every time we think about Washington D.C., it comes to our minds The White House Building, the US Supreme Court, the Capitol Building, and all political facilities that country has. The capital city of the United States, home of more than 500,000 people and named after President George Washington, is located at the mid-Atlantic region of the country and it has also great attractions to offer and one of the largest and most organized transportations systems of all the country in which its citizens depend on to travel to work and to tourist to have an easier way to visit attractions every day.
It all began in the 1960s, when it was planned for Washington to have a rail transit system in order to lower the traffic congestion around the capital city. The subway, or as they call it, The Metro construction plans were put into bill in 1966 by the federal government. On December 9 1969, its construction began and it was first opened to the public in 1976 with only 5 stations that covered from Rhode Island to the District of Columbia. Arlington County was added to the system in 1977; in 1978 was added Montgomery County; in 1983 Fairfax County and Alexandria were added as well.
The system was completed in January 2001 with the opening of the green line segment, and it was extended 3.22 miles with the opening of Morgan Boulevard station in 2004. However, in order to improve the public transportation system, there were new constructions started to it in 2009 with the main objective to add and extension to Dulles Airport, it was set to be ready in the years 2014 and later on with other part of the same project, in 2018.
This project cost a considerable fortune to the government. It was originally approved by the Congress on the Transportation Act in 1969; about 60% was paid by federal money and about 40% by local money. However, budget additions were added to the project with the passing of the years, actually, it is estimated that close to 3 billion dollars were added to the original project when all the new modifications and amplification were added to the transportation system.
In 2006 were implemented to the system messages by a recorded voice indicating announcements to the passengers when the doors were going to open and when they were going to close, also, the recorded voice was set up to remind the passengers the system’s rules.
How to use the Metro
As it was mentioned before, this way of public transportations is called Metro, with that been said, a great piece of advice is to tell the people who are visiting the city to avoid calling it “subway”.
Now, let’s move on to the next part, and one of the most important parts: how to get the ticket and the fare. It could be a little bit confusing for the new travelers, but in the Metro system there is no a fixed fare to the passengers, it all depends of the length of the travel, the hour of the day and the day of the week. Generally, off-peak prices are from $1.70 until $3.50, depending on the length of the destination, however, on rush hours, the fares can vary from $2.10 until $5.75, yet again, depending on the distance of the destination. If it gets too confusing how to calculate how much the trip will cost, you can head up to Metros’ Trip Planner online, put the details of your trip and it will help you on how to calculate the cost.
Travelers have also the possibility to use a full-day pas for $14.50. However, passengers need to evaluate their options and their budget before getting one of these passes and if it is really a money savior.
On how to get the tickets it’s pretty simple, you can either buy them online of you can go to the Metro station and buy them on the machines located in the facilities. Something important to know is that there no longer paper fare cards, users have to buy a SmarTrip card. If you buy your card at the station, take into account that the machines accept cash, debit and credit. An important fact to know is that if you use cash, the machine will only take the money three times per day. All SmarTrip card are required from passengers older than 5 years old, a traveler may travel up to two toddlers for free, and otherwise they need to purchase their own SmarTrip car for each one on then, since the car cannot be use at the same time.
The Metro runs over 80 stations and there are 6 lines, which are:
Red line: runs over the northern part of the city and its main metro station are Union Station, Metro Center, DuPont Circle and Chinatown.
Blue line: it functions on the west-east part through the city and also the south. It main stations are Capitol South, McPherson Square (station that leaves you in the White House), Arlington, National Cemetery and National Airport.
Silver line: goes through the west-east part of the city, its main satiation is close to Dulles Airport.
Orange line: goes through the east-west part of the city.
NOTE: Blue, silver and orange lines go through the same tracks inside downtown, so travelers must be aware of the one they are taking to leave the central part of the city.
Green line: goes through the north-south part of the city. You can get to the Navy-Yard and the Baseball Stadium.
Yellow: travels the north and south on the city. It goes to Virginia, National Airport and Old Town Alexandria.
Washington DC Metro Map
The system runs Monday to Friday from 5am until midnight. On weekends it runs from 7am until midnight. The system used to until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays, however, the service is suspended now at midnight due to the Safe Track service.
How to move around
It all depends on the station. Generally, travelers have to go to the lower levels to get into the train platform and people need to be careful to take the correct escalator to go to the correct platform. The train rails are usually located in the center.
At the moment people find the correct platform, they need to look for the list of destinations in order and look for their destination. These lists are usually located at the top of the stairs.
There are electronic indicators in every platform of the train rails; they are coded in this way:
LN (line) marked with the line color the train goes to.
CAR: to indicate the number of cars the train has.
DEST (destination): it indicates the last stop the train is designated to. This is great to help passenger to make them sure they are heading for the right direction. However, people need to be very careful because not all of the trains go directly to the end of their line. So, it is important to be aware of the connections the train makes since the recorded voice on the machine does not seem to help very much.
MIN (minute): that works as an indicator of the minutes passengers will have to wait until the next train comes.
Ideal Metro stops to visit DC attractions
Federal Triangle: people can get there by the orange, blue, or silver line. This is an area that is close to the National Mall, White House and Capitol Building; it is surrounded by important historical government institutions such as the FBI Building and the Department of justice. This is a must to for tourist on their list of things to visit at the capital city of the United States.
Gallery Place /Chinatown: you can go there using the red, green or yellow line. A great place to visit since it is close to downtown, and also offers a great variety of restaurants. It is also close the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where you can check out the National Portrait Gallery.
Federal Center: you can get there by the orange, blue and silver line. That station gets you close to the United States Botanic Garden, the National Air and Space Museum, and the US Capitol Building. This area is also filled with historical federal office buildings such as the Supreme Court.
Smithsonian: people can go through the orange, blue and silver line. This is the station that is the closest to all DC’s monuments. AT the very northern exit you can appreciate the US Capitol Building and the National Mall. Besides that, it gives a great access to many museums and galleries such as the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of American History.
Arlington National Cemetery: you can go there by the blue line. This is home of one of the most famous military cemeteries to honor those who bravely fought for their country, it is also home of several memorial and the Tombs of the Unknown.
Foggy Bottom: travelers can get there by the orange, blue and silver line. This is located on the campus of George Washington University, besides that, it is also close the Lincoln Memorial, the Kennedy Center and the National Mall.
Woodley Park/ Zoo: travelers can go there through the red line. This is the only station that is not in the center on DC’s downtown. However, this fact does not lessen importance of this station since is one of the key ones at the matters of attractions, since the zoo offers lots on fun for its visitors, from the very youngest to the very oldest.
L’Enfant Plaza: You can get there through orange, blue, silver, green and yellow line. Besides the fact of been a great reachable place, it is one of the easiest paces to go visit the Jefferson Memorial and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Tourist can go there and at the same time take a hike and enjoy all the beautiful sights the memorials have to offer. This is ideal of people who enjoy long walks while taking breath-taking pictures.
Archives: Travelers can reach archives through the green and yellow line. Home of the Constructions of the United States, this station is located in Penn Quarter, really close to the National Mall, National Museum of Natural History and the National Gallery of Art. The station is also really reachable to downtown in which travelers can visit the great museums like the International Spy Museum and the Newseum. Besides that, tourist can have their treat in the amazing restaurants near the zone, and also enjoy all DC attractions.
McPherson Square: You can get there by the orange, blue and silver line. Many people always associate the Capital City whit the image f the president and the White House, it has become the iconic mark of the city and it is one of the main reasons why people go there. This station is one of the easiest ways to go visit the monument and also is really close to the National Mall, the Washington Monument and also, to the Constitutions Gardens.
It is fare to say that most of the touristic places have more than one station to go to, it may seem confusing at first, but it gives the alternative to reach those places in more than one way and also it avoids that annoying traffic jam we all hate
Whether you are a tourist visiting the city for the first time or you life in the city and you are looking for options to escape the traffic jam, these tips are going to help you to move around through the city like you it like the back of your hand.
Firstly, when riding the escalator, you must always stand to your right and walk to your left. This seems like a very logical principle, however, most people forget it and then find themselves blocking the way and fellow citizens strongly, and often loudly, discourages those blockers on when using the Metro. Also, when waiting to board the next train, let the riders exit before trying to board it, also make the exit more efficient and, consequently, the system more efficient by stepping outside of the door so the riders have more room to exit. Just imagine that by letting them exit first, you can go to the train faster.
Secondly, when the train is crowded, move to the middle of the car, in that way, other passengers can board, and do not get frustrated thinking you won’t be able to exit; you will have enough time to walk to the door and exit the train. Another point to take into consideration is that in rush hours trains arrive very often, it is not a good idea to board a train that is too full because it could cause trouble with the doors since they are very sensitive and won’t be able to close. The entire train would stop working and it could cause delay to the system.
Each car has several seats for handicapped rides, so it is a manner of collective conscience to not use those sits if there are riders who need to sit down, also, it would be a great deal if you give up your sit to someone who is in more need of one and you are. It is all a matter of cultural knowledge and been sensitive to others needs.
Take into account that Metro stations have elevators; however, they are mostly placed for people who have wheels, like people with strollers or bikes. The elevators can take their time to arrive but it is better to use them if you have a heavy bag or a bike, you won’t want to balance those on the escalators. However, if you do not have anything too heavy or anything with wheels on it, or any special need, you are perfectly capable of using the escalators and leaving the elevators to people who really needs them.
Another important thing to remember is that on weekends transferring is not the best idea in the world. Generally, weekends are for track work and that often brings delay into the system; so, instead of transferring, it is better to see if there is a stop nearby your destination and use other alternatives to arrive there. It would save you time and also you will avoid being stuck on a train and getting stressed out.
Finally, be sure to load your SmarTrip card before you go into the train. That is an important thing to remember on busy days, even more on special occasions like the fourth of July when the train is crowed and the streets are full. Plan ahead to not to waste time on an annoying line.
Now you are ready to ride the Washington DC Metro and have fun in the city without wasting any precious time on getting to know to how to move around in the public transportation, and also saving more money.