DC's system is relatively straight forward and easy to use, but we've compiled some of the most frequent questions that we hear about riding and navigating the DC Metro system.
How do I get to my destination?
Within Washington DC and the nearby parts of Virginia and Maryland, there are many transportation options, including Metro (DC's subway system), MetroBus, and taxis. Additionally, downtown DC can be reasonably walkable. Getting to your destination can involve one or many of these modes of transportation. Since you're on this site, you're probably interested in public transit.
There are a couple good ways to find a route. If you happen to know the neighborhoods that you are traveling from and to, and they have metro stations, just take a look at our DC Metro Map. If you don't know exactly where things are, or don't know if you have metro service, Google Maps provides a great service. Type in an starting and ending address or attraction and get transit, walking, and driving directions. Both Metro and MetroBus routes and schedules are included in their routing system, and it even takes care of computing transfers and optimal routes.
Finally, WMATA's trip planner can be useful. It isn't as visual as Google Maps, but it includes information about fares and travel times.
What will my trip cost?
Trip costs vary by starting and ending locations, time of day, and payment method.
There is an additional charge during metro's busiest hours: weekdays from opening to 9:30 am and 3-7 pm and weekends midnight to closing, and using a paper FareCard instead of a SmarTrip card incurs a dollar surcharge on each trip.
For exact fares, use WMATA's trip planner.
Do children ride for free?
Up to two children age four or younger may travel with a single adult for no charge. Children 5 or older must pay the usual rate.
How do I get to Georgetown?
Georgetown is a popular destination in Washington DC, as home to Georgetown University, the Georgetown Waterfront, and many small shops and restaurants, including the famous Georgetown Cupcake. While popular, the neighborhood is not serviced by the Metro system, leaving visitors with a limited set of travel options.
In general, we suggest using Google Maps to find the best bus route.
How to I travel from National Harbor to Washington DC?
National Harbor is not directly metro accessible, but there is a Metrobus line, NH1 which provides access to Branch Avenue, a station on metro's green line. Instead of bus, you can also drive to Branch Avenue station (about 12 minutes with light traffic) or Huntington station on the yellow line (about 9 minutes with light traffic).
What is the current status of track work and system delays?
While convenient for weekend fun in the city and tourists visiting DC, the vast majority of Metro's usage comes from commuters traveling to and from work Monday through Friday. While delays and bus service replacing rail is annoying for anybody who happens to be riding, this would have a much much more profound effect during the workweek. (Delays during rush hour due to mechanical issues have been known to cause crowed platforms, massive numbers of complaints, and lots of business for nearby taxis).
What is single tracking?
The rail lines in the Metro system primarily consist of two sets of parallel track, one dedicated to each direction of travel. During maintenance or malfunctions, it is sometimes necessary to route all trains on a single one of these tracks to move trains around an issue. This can happen between two stations, or for several stations, depending on how large the effected area is, and whether there are locations where trains can switch tracks. This process is known as "single tracking" and can create some delays as trains must wait for the effected area to be clear of trains traveling in the opposite direction.
When is the first / last train to a station?
During the middle of the day and rush hour, Metro trains don't typically maintain a consistent schedule; instead, they typically maintain a reasonable frequency. The first and last trains to each station, however, do try to maintain a schedule. The timetable for trains can be found here.
What stations provide parking? What does it cost?
WMATA operates several parking lots and garages in tandem with Metro stations. For a list of stations with WMATA lots, see the our page on the five Metro Lines. Clicking into an individual station will provide additional information about cost and lot size.
There are many other parking garages in and around Washington DC. While we do not list them extensively, we recommend using a site such as parkme.com for your search.
Is overnight or long-term parking available?
Most WMATA run parking lots and garages do not allow overnight or long-term parking. The exceptions are Greenbelt Station, Huntington Station, and Franconia-Springfield Station. These stations each have a limited number of spaces (15-17) available for first serve parking of up to 10 days, and charge the usual daily rate.
As with parking in general, there are many other parking garages in and around Washington DC, many of which allow long-term parking. While we do not list them extensively, we recommend using a site such as parkme.com for your search.