Review: Washington D.C. Public Transportation

31 05 2008

I spent the week in Washington D.C. and felt compelled to write about their public transportation system. On the weekend, I stayed in Reston, VA with a friend, and we took the Metro into the city every day/night. I had pre-purchased a SmartCard online before I went and it cost $5 for the card. I got it in the mail in 2 business days. Once I got to Union Station, I was able to put a pre-set amount of money on it using cash, debit, or credit. So easy. At each station, the turnstiles have a scanner for your card so it automatically deducts the cost of the trip when you exit the station. If you get to your station and you don’t have enough money left on your card, there are machines that let you add money so you can exit.

The Metro is clean, efficient, safe. It’s very extensive and well marked from the street. The cost is low–within the city, a one-way ride usually doesn’t cost more than $2. From the suburbs, a ride costs around $3.

The buses are also wonderful and easy to use. The “loop” buses that run through the city only cost $1 per ride, and you can use your Smart Card for those as well. Those buses will take you virtually anywhere you need to go around the city.

I never got lost, never felt unsafe, and was always helped by very friendly staff. Take that, SEPTA!
Of course, the metro and buses do stop running at a certain time of night, and at that point you are stuck with taxis that don’t use meters (until June 1) and charge you $10 for a 4-block ride.

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