Using public transportation in any new city can be nerve wracking, especially when the network is as large as Washington D.C. or New York. The Metro line in the District covers over 1,500 square miles, making it the second largest in the United States. Within that 1,500 sq. mile area, there is over 220 miles of railway, making more than 750,000 trips every weekday. Don’t believe me? Check my source
Needless to say, it’s quite easy to get confused and lost. That is, if you don’t know the system! Here are a few tips to help you avoid getting lost and/or spending a lot of money using the public transportation.
Map Out Your Route
Especially when you get into the heart of Washington D.C., rather then a suburb, there are typically numerous ways to get to where you want to go. Sometimes it may be faster to get off at one stop and walk the rest as opposed to taking the metro two stops further, transferring, and then backtracking just to get a block or so closer. It’s important to do your research. Google your destination, usually on their website, it’ll tell you the best metro stop to get off at.
Know When Peak and Off-Peak Hours Are
If you get caught in peak rush hour human traffic, you might as well give up on your plans. Getting there could possibly put you in such a crappy mood that it’ll ruin your day. Not only is it crowded, but the prices are jacked up too! If timing isn’t crucial, I would wait until peak hours are over.
Side note: also know when the sporting events are, especially Capitals games and Nationals games. The crowds are absurd and are not worth the struggle.
Get a Smart Trip
If you plan to be in DC for awhile and plan on using the metro a lot, get yourself a Smart Trip. A Smart Trip is a plastic card you pay a one time fee for that you can replenish online whenever need be. Metro has started charging for the paper cards themselves, so purchasing a Smart Trip will help you out in the long run.
Having one will also help you get through the lines much quicker. All you have to do is tap and go and you’re on your way.
Just Because Your Destination Doesn’t Have a Metro Stop Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Take A Metro To Get There
Perfect example for this one is Georgetown. Georgetown is a hot commodity. People want to go there, it’s beautiful, fantastic shopping, and home to the infamous Water Gate Hotel! But, Georgetown doesn’t have a Metro stop and parking is absolutely horrendous. These two combined could deter visitors from coming to Georgetown.
Well, little do people know, Georgetown does have a Metro stop, it’s called Rosslyn! Just a short, scenic walk over the Key Bridge will put you in the hear of Georgetown, but few outsiders know this. Take the orange line to Rosslyn, walk over, and you’ll be right where you want to be.
These tips can work in any destination. All you need to do is a little bit of research and you’ll save yourself time and money.