Getting in and out of DC is easy to do, complicated only by the choices available.
Once arrived, how do you get around town to all those great things you’ve heard about? You’ll find walking often works best. Because of traffic congestion, limited parking, and confusing streets, cars are often the least useful means of travel.You are fortunate to have so many transportation options:
GETTING IN AND OUT OF THE CITY
Maps and Directions can provide the best options for driving routes, especially to Ithaca and New York.
Airports and Transport Connections
Washington’s three area airports are: National, Dulles, and BWI. The Airport websites are the best source for up to the minute info and details, including ground transport.
Washington National Airport (DCA) is by far the closest, cheapest, and most convenient in terms of connecting transport. Metrorail Blue and Yellow Lines run directly to the main terminal, about 45 minutes all told from CIW to terminal; taxi’s cost is approximately $19 for the 15 minute trip to the Cornell University Wolpe Center.
Dulles International (IAD) is considerably farther away. Taxi service is about $51 for the 50 minute trip. Super Shuttle minivan service with pickup is available 5:30 AM until 12:30 AM for $27 first person / $10 each additional, with 24 hour advanced reservations required. Washington Flyer ($10) provides bus service between West Falls Church on the Orange Line Metro and Dulles Airport.
Baltimore-Washington International (BWI), though not especially convenient, has a number of options. Taxi’s take about an hour and cost about $79. Super Shuttle minivan service with pickup is available 24 hours a day for $35 first person / $12 each additional. A free shuttle bus also connects the airport to nearby 30 minute rail service from Amtrak ($20) or MARC ($6.00); Amtrak runs daily from 5:00 AM until variously 10:45/11:30 PM; MARC runs only on weekdays from 5:30 AM until 10:30 PM; from either train, connect at Union Station to Metro Red Line. Metro also runs a BWI Express Metrobus from Greenbelt Station on the Green Line from 6AM weekdays and 8:40 AM Weekends until 10:00 PM; the cost is only $4.55, less with a Metro transfer.
Train, Bus, and Commuter Rail
Almost all land transport in Washington, DC is centered at or near Union Station, 1st Street and Massachusetts Avenue, NE, on the Red Line Metro.
Amtrak provides interstate rail service from Union Station.
Greyhound provides less expensive but more time consuming bus service from their terminal at 1005 1st Street, NE; the walk from Union Station could be dicey after dusk. Both Amtrak and Greyhound have multiple connections to New York City, and decent networks elsewhere.
All renters need a license and major credit card. Many rental companies refuse to contract with drivers under the age of 25. Most who do so add a daily surcharge. In the Washington area, students may be best served by the following:
GETTING AROUND TOWN
Many CIW students walk to work, to stores, and to entertainment. When driving, the city streets seem complicated, but on foot, they seem more rational. Certain rules should be kept in mind:
For the foot weary or rushed, there’s a large variety of public transport within the metropolitan area. For planning, whether a regular route to work or a new adventure, try the Ride Guide or the Metro website.
The Washington Metro Transit Authority runs the subway and bus system for the metropolitan area. You can find hours, fares, best routes, local maps, etc. at the Metro website or at each Metro station.
The subway is safe, clean, comfortable, efficient, and cool, in more ways than one, and it reaches most central locations. The system uses electronic fare cards (minimum fare $1.65), needed for both entry and exit; take care, change is only in coins, no matter how much. Special deals may be worth your while. The subway hours are essentially 6 AM to Midnight, though the system stays open later on Friday and Saturday nights and opens later on Saturday, Sunday, and Holiday mornings.
The two Metro stops closest to the Center are: Dupont Circle, on the Red Line, with exits at Dupont Circle and 19th Street and at Q and 20th Streets, about five minutes walk; and Foggy Bottom, on the Blue and Orange Lines, at 23rd and I Streets, about ten minutes walk. The Red Line is most convenient for getting to Metro Center, Union Station, or the Maryland suburbs; its connection to the Yellow Line can get you to National Airport. The Foggy Bottom stop is convenient mostly for trips to Virginia or to avoid transfers from another line.
The Metrobus system covers most of what the subway does not (and even what it does), both in terms of geography and hours. Basic fare is $1.35; you need exact change. For certain routes, the bus will be more efficient than the subway. Transfers for reduced rates (35¢) are possible from subway (not vice versa) or other buses; get transfers before taking a ride.
The District’s taxi system is reliable and fares are metered. The first 1/6 mile is $3, each additional 1/6 $0.25 and $1.50 for each additional passenger.
It’s usually possible to hail a cab on any busy street. Taxi’s prowl often and at all hours on both 22nd and P Streets, which are main arteries with hotels.
For radio dispatch, or for pre-arranging 24 hour reservations to transportation hubs, try:
Neighborhood Photo Tour