Metros in the United States: Washington Metro (Metrorail)

Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States. It has a population of around 700,000 people. Here, the President, Congress, and the Supreme Court are located. This is an important city in politics both at national and international level, since all embassies and other important political organizations are located here. Washington D.C. is the home of famous museums and memorials.

The city has three airports: Washington Dulles International Airport, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. There are over 2300 kilometers of streets in the city. The metro system in Washington D.C. is called Washington Metro, or also called Metrorail. It is owned by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA,) which also owns a system of buses called Metrobus.

How to ride DC Metro

History

A train system for Washington D.C. was planned since the 60s, but some politicians opposed to its construction since they argued that traffic was low, so there was no need for a metro. WMATA was created in 1966. Washington Metro's construction was approved in 1968, and its construction began in 1969. The metro inaugurated on March 27, 1976, with the opening of the Red Line. The system was called metro because the map designer of the stations suggested it. The map designer for the stations also did work on the New York City Subway. The next line to be built was the Blue Line, in July 1st, 1977. The opening dates of the rest of the lines were: the Orange Line in November 20th, 1978; the Yellow Line in April 30th, 1983; the Green Line on December 28th, 1991; and the Silver Line in July 26th, 2014. The Silver Line is still being expanded.

The original plan was to build 83 stations, with over 160 kilometers of rails. The stations and the rails in this plan were completed on 2001. Further expansions occurred. The metro's funding was divided into 66% of federal funding and 34% of in-state funding.

Washington DC Metrorail lines and stations

Metrorail has 91 stations, divided into the following six lines: Silver Line, Yellow Line, Green Line, Blue Line, Red Line, and Orange Line. The stations at each line are the following:

Silver Line

It has 28 stations. Its stations are: Largo Town Center, Wiehle-Reston East, Greensboro, Spring Hill, Mc Lean, Tysons Corner, East Falls Church, Virginia Square-GMU, Ballston-MU, Court House, Clarendon, Foggy Bottom-GWU, Rosslyn, McPherson Square, Farragut West, Federal Triangle, Metro Center, L'Enfant Plaza, Smithsonian, Capitol South, Federal Center Southwest, Potomac Avenue, East Market, Benning Road, Stadium-Armory, Addison Road, Capitol Heights, Morgan Boulevard.

Yellow Line

It has 17 stations. Its stations are: Georgia Avenue-Petworth, Huntington, King Street-Old Town, Eisenhower Avenue, Braddock Road, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Pentagon City, Crystal City, L'Enfant Plaza, Pentagon, Gallery Place, Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter, Shaw-Howard University, Mount Vernon Square, Columbia Heights, Fort Totten, U Street/ African-American Civil War Memorial/ Cardozo.

Green Line stations

It has 21 stations. Its stations are the following: Greenbelt, Naylor Road, Suitland, Congress Heights, Southern Avenue, Navy Yard-Ballpark, Anacostia, L'Enfant Plaza, Waterfront, Gallery Place, Archives, Shaw-Howard University, Mount Vernon Square, Georgia Avenue-Petworth, Columbia Heights, Union Station, Fort Totten, Prince George's Plaza, West Hyattsville, College Park-University of Maryland, Branch Avenue

Blue Line

It has 27 stations. Its stations are: Largo Town Center, King Street-Old Town, Van Dorm Street, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Braddock Road, Pentagon City, Crystal City, Pentagon, Benning Road, Rosslyn, Arlington Cemetery, Farragut West, Foggy Bottom-GWU., Addison Road, McPherson Square, Federal Triangle, Metro Center, Smithsonian, Federal Center Southwest, L'Enfant Plaza, East Market, Capitol South, Stadium Armory, Potomac Avenue, Capitol Heights, Morgan Boulevard, Franconia-Springfield

Red Line

It has 27 stations. Its stations are: Glenmont, Twinbrook, Rockville, Grosvenor-Strathmore, Medical Center, White Flint, Friendship Heights, Bethesda, Van Ness-UDC, Tenleytown-AV, Woodley Park, Cleveland Park, Farragut North, Dupont Circle, Gallery Place, Metro Center, Union Station, Judiciary Square, Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood, NoMa-Gallandet U, Fort Totten, Brookland-CUA, Silver Spring, Takoma, Wheaton, Forest Glen, Shady Grove

Orange Line

It has 26 stations. Its stations are: New Carrollton, West Falls Church, Dunn Loring, East Falls Church, Virginia Square-GMU, Ballston-MU, Court House, Clarendon, Foggy Bottom-GWU, Rosslyn, McPherson Square, Farragut West, Federal Triangle, Metro Center, L'Enfant Plaza, Smithsonian, Capitol South, Federal Center Southwest, Potomac Avenue, Eastern Market, Deanwood, Minnesota Avenue, Cheverly, Stadium Armory, Landover, Vienna

Rail connections

In all metro stations, connections are available between Metrorail's trains and Metrobus' buses. Metrorail can also transfer to the following transportation services:

  • MARC Train Service.
  • Amtrack.
  • Virginia Railway Express (VRE).
  • Local buses.
  • Intercity buses.

Connections between the aforementioned agencies and Metrorail can be done in the following stations:

  • 1) Virginia Railway Express:
    • 1.1) King Street Station.
    • 1.2) Crystal City Station.
    • 1.3) L'Enfant Plaza.
    • 1.4) Franconia-Springfield.
  • 2) Amtrack:
    • 2.1) New Carrollton.
    • 2.2) King Street Station.
  • 3) MARC Train Station:
    • 3.1) Silver Spring.
    • 3.2) Rockville.
    • 3.3) College Park-University of Maryland.
    • 3.4) Greenbelt.

Connection to the airport

The closest international airport to Washington D.C. is Washington Dulles International Airport. The main hub for Metrorail is Union Station. To go from the airport to Union Station, walk 0.4 miles to Commercial at Terminal. From there, ride on Fairfax Connection Bus 981 towards Wiehle Metro-Silver Line, and get off at Wiehle-Reston East Transit Center. Walk around 0.1 miles to North Entrance. Then, take the train on Metrorail's Silver Line towards Largo Town Center, and get off at Metro Center Metro Station. From there, take a train on the Red Line towards Glenmont, and get off at Union Station. The whole trip costs $5 if paid with the SmarTrip card. Buses only accept cash and the SmarTrip card.

Schedule, calendar, and timetable

Stations work on weekdays from 5:00 am until midnight, and they work on weekends from 7:00 am until midnight. Rush hours are 5:00 am until 9:30 am in the morning, and 3:00 pm until 7:00 pm on the afternoon.

Weekday schedule

The weekday schedule for the lines are:

a) Red Line: Trains are available every three to six minutes on morning rush hours (between Silver Springs Station and Grosvenor Station, there are trains available every three minutes.) From 9:30 am to 3:00pm, there are trains every 12 minutes. In the afternoon rush hour, there are trains every three to six minutes (between Grosvenor Station and Silver Springs Station, there are trains every three minutes.) From 7:00pm to 9:30pm, there are trains every six to 10 minutes. From 9:30pm until midnight, there are trains every 15 to 18 minutes.

b) Orange, Silver, Yellow, and Green Line: During the morning rush hours, there are trains every six minutes. From 9:30 am until 3:00 pm, there are trains every 12 minutes. In the afternoon rush hours, there are trains available every six minutes. From 7:00 pm until 9:30 pm, there are trains every 12 minutes. From 9:30 pm until midnight, there are trains available every 20 minutes.

c) Blue Line: During the morning rush hours, there are trains available every 12 minutes. From 9:30 am until 3:00 pm, there are trains every 12 minutes. In the afternoon rush hours, there are trains every 12 minutes. From 7:00 pm until 9:30 pm, there are trains every 12 minutes. From 9:30 pm until midnight, there are trains available every 20 minutes.

Saturday schedule

a) Red Line: From 7:00 am until 9:30 pm, there are trains every 12 minutes. From 9:30 pm until midnight, there are trains available every 15 minutes.

b) Orange, Silver, Yellow, Green, and Blue Line: From 7:00 am until 9:30 pm, there are trains every 12 minutes. From 9:30 pm until midnight, there are trains every 20 minutes.

Sunday schedule

a) Red Line: From 7:00 am until 9:30 pm, there are trains available every 15 minutes. From 9:30 pm until midnight, there are trains every 20 minutes.

b) Orange, Silver, Yellow, Green, and Blue Line: From 7:00 am to 9:30 pm, there are trains every 15 minutes. From 9:30 pm until midnight, there are trains every 20 minutes.

Holidays schedule

Here are the opening and closing times for the metro on the following days:

  • a) Sunday before New Year’s Day: 7:00 am until midnight.
  • b) Saturday before Martin Luther King Jr Day: 5:00 am until midnight.
  • c) Inauguration Day: From 4:00 am until midnight.
  • d) Saturday before President’s Day: 5:00 am until midnight.
  • e) Sunday before Memorial Day: 7:00 am until midnight.
  • f) Independence Day: 7:00 am until midnight.
  • g) Sunday before Labor Day: 7:00 am until midnight.
  • h) Saturday before Columbus Day: 5:00 am until midnight.
  • i) Saturday before Veteran’s Day: 5:00 am until midnight.
  • j) Sunday after Thanksgiving Day: 7:00 am until midnight.
  • k) Sunday before Christmas: 7:00 am until midnight.

Prices, tickets, and cards

The card for paying the metro's fares is called SmarTrip, and it can also be used for paying the buses from Metrobus. The card can be renewed. To use the card, tap it into Metrorail's turnstiles. The SmarTrip card can be bought online via a debit or credit card, or it can also be bought at stations, shops, and vending machines. People with disabilities and senior citizens can get discounts. The maximum amount of money allowed on the card is $300.

With the SmarTrip card, you can park at the stations. If your card is stolen or lost, you do not lose the money you had in your card. You can report your lost card, and get a new one with the balance you had in your lost card, but it requires a $2 fee. The SmarTrip card lets you transfer to the following transportation agencies:

  • Fairfax Connector.
  • Ride On.
  • CUE.
  • ART.
  • Loudoun County Transit.
  • DC Circulator.
  • Omniride.
  • Maryland Transit Administration Local Bus.
  • TheBus.
  • Light Rail
  • Van pools.

The SmarTrip card can be linked to Maryland Transit Administration's card, which is called the MTA CharmCard. Prices vary if you travel at rush hours or at off-peak hours. The price also varies depending on the distance travelled. For instance, a trip between two adjacent stations, L'Enfant Plaza and Pentagon, costs $2.15. Only one SmarTrip card is allowed per person. A paying adult can bring up to two children below five years old so they can travel for free.

There are also passes available. The passes are: Rail Only, Rail with Bus, One Day Pass, 7-Day Fast Pass, 7-Day Short Trip Pass, and 28-Day Fast Pass.

Rules

  • Before entering the train, let people get out of the metro first.
  • If using audio devices, use headphones.
  • The first seats on the metro are for people with disabilities and for senior citizens, and you must give up your seat if asked by these people or by anybody that urgently needs the seat.
  • Put newspapers in recycling bins, and trash in trash cans.
  • Obey the metro staff.
  • While on the station, stay six meters away from the edge of the platform.
  • Mind your step when entering the metro from the platform so you do not trip with the gap.
  • Report any abandoned items to the metro staff.
  • Littering, drinking, eating, and smoking on the trains and stations is not allowed.
  • Do not lean against the metro’s doors.
  • Do not force the metro’s doors and do not block them.
  • Touching the metro’s doors when opening and closing is not allowed.
  • The following behaviors are not allowed either: running at the stations, sitting on the platform’s edge, and walking on the rails.

Future expansions

Around 200 trains will be added. A new station, Potomac Yard, is planned to be built in between 2018 and 2019. This station will run trains from both the Yellow Line and the Blue Line. This station will connect Braddock Road and National Airport stations. The Silver Line will be expanded in between 2019 and 2020, which will add routes to Virginia Route 772. Other Silver Line stations planned to be built by 2020 are: Reston Town Center, Ashburn, Washington Dulles International Airport, Loudon Gateway, Herndon, and Innovation Center.

Tips

  • Transferring from Metrorail is not recommended on weekends because delays will occur due to maintenance done to the trains. Instead, try to get off at a station that is close to your destination.
  • Make sure to have enough money on your SmarTrip card to pay for your return trip if you plan to go to a crowded event. Otherwise, you will have to wait in a long line to refill your card for your return trip.
  • Tickets are only sold at vending machines. There are no booths nor retailers that sell Metrorail tickets. Tickets for a ride are one dollar more expensive than the same ride paid with a SmarTrip card.
  • Check Metrorail's Twitter account for updates, since sometimes entire stations are closed due to repairs.
  • Grab a station map at any of the stations, since the speakers inside the trains are of low quality, so it is difficult to hear the name of the stops.

Fun facts

  • Metrorail's trains have air conditioning.
  • Over 590,000 people per day ride the metro.
  • The metro's stations are decorated with coffered vaults. This vault design had the approval of the Commission of Fine Arts. Artwork is available in some stations. All stations are made with the same materials. All stations have lamps which flash when a train arrives.
  • Some trips offer views of landmarks. For instance, a trip between Pentagon station and L'Enfant Plaza offers a view of Jefferson Memorial. Another example is the view of the Capitol you get if you ride a train from Rhode Island Avenue station. Apparently, Rhode Island Avenue station was built with the purpose of having a perfect view of the Capitol. You can get a great view of Mount Vernon Square if you ride on the frontal seats of the metro during your trip.
  • Metrorail's trains are made from the same company that makes trains for the metros in Bilbao, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Barcelona and many others.

Nearby attractions

To go from Washington Dulles International Airport to some of Washington D.C.'s touristic attractions, follow these instructions:

1) Lincoln Memorial: The whole trip lasts 103 minutes, and costs $8.25. Walk 0.3 miles towards Dulles Airport Main Terminal & Arrivals' door. Take Metrobus 5A towards L'Enfant Plaza Station, and get off at North Moore Street & Rosslyn Station Bus Bay C. Then, take the train on Metrorail's Blue Line towards Largo Town Center, and get off at Foggy Bottom Metro Station. Walk towards 23rd Street Northwest & 1st Northwest. Ride on Metrobus 31 towards Foggy Bottom Station, and get off at Virginia Avenue Northwest & East Street Northwest. Walk 0.6 miles. This memorial displays a statue of Lincoln that is almost 20 feet tall. This memorial is also an important historic site since Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech in this place.

2) Capitol Hill (US Capitol): The trip lasts 80 minutes, and costs $8.65. Walk 0.3 miles to the airport's Main Terminal & Arrivals' door. Ride on Metrobus 5A towards L'Enfant Plaza Station, and get off at North Moore Street & Rosslyn Station Bus Bay C. Then, take a train on the metro's Orange Line towards New Carrollton, and get off at Eastern Market Metro Station. Walk 0.2 miles. This site hosts the Senate and the House of Representatives. The inside of the building has paintings, statues, and free tours are offered.

3) The White House: The trip lasts 75 minutes, and costs $8.25. Walk 0.3 miles to the airport's Main Terminal and Arrivals' door. Ride on Metrobus 5A towards L'Enfant Plaza Station, and get off at North Moore Street & Rosslyn Station Bus Bay C. Take a train on the metro's Orange Line towards New Carrollton, and get off at Farragut West Metro Station. Go through the 17th & I (Eye) Street Northwest Station exit. Walk 0.5 miles. The famous place where the US president lives. You can go to the White House Visitor Center, which displays the White House's history.

4) National Gallery of Art: The whole trip lasts 95 minutes, and costs $9.20. Walk 0.3 miles to the airport's Main Terminal and Arrivals' door. Ride on Metrobus 5A towards L'Enfant Plaza Station, and get off at North Moore Street & Rosslyn Station Bus Bay C. Take a train on the metro's Silver Line towards Largo Town Center, and get off at Eastern Market Metro Station. Walk 0.6 minutes. This gallery is a popular museum in the United States. It has paintings and sculptures from both America and Europe.

5) Washington Monument: The whole trip lasts 78 minutes, and costs $8.65. Walk 0.3 miles to the airport's Main Terminal and Arrivals' door. Ride on Metrobus 5A towards L'Enfant Plaza Station, and get off at North Moore Street & Rosslyn Station Bus Bay C. Walk 0.2 miles FT Myer Drive between 19th Street and Wilson Boulevard. Take a train on the metro's Silver Line towards Largo Town Center, and get off at Federal Triangle Station. Walk 0.4 miles and you will arrive to your destination. This is an obelisk in which you can take an elevator to get a view from the top. The obelisk is over 500 feet tall.

6) National Air and Space Museum: The whole trip lasts 105 minutes, and costs $7.15. Walk 0.3 miles from the airport to Commercial at Terminal. Ride on Fairfax Connector Bus 981 towards Wiehle Metro-Silver Line, and get off at Wiehle-Reston East Transit Center. Walk 0.1 miles to North Entrance. Then, take the train on the metro's Silver Line towards Largo Town Center, and get off at L'Enfant Plaza Metro Station. Go through the 7th Street Southwest & Maryland Avenue Southwest-Dot Courtyard Station exit. Walk 0.2 miles to your destination. This museum shows displays of science and technology related to space and aviation. Some of the exhibits include the first airplane by the Wright Brothers, as well as part of the Apollo 11 spacecraft.

7) National Zoological Park: The whole trip lasts 94 minutes, and costs $8.90. Walk 0.3 miles to the airport's Main Terminal and Arrivals' door. Ride on Metrobus 5A towards L'Enfant Plaza Station, and get off at North Moore Street & Rosslyn Station Bus Bay C. Take a train on the metro's Silver Line towards Largo Town Center, and get off at Metro Center Metro Station. Take a train on the metro's Red Line towards Grosvenor, and get off at Woodley Park-Zoo Metro Station. Go through the Woodley Road Northwest & Connecticut Avenue Northwest Station exit. Walk 0.6 miles to your destination. This zoo has over 1900 animals. The zoo's habitats are almost an exact replica of the original habitats of these animals. One of the best zoos in America.

Metro map of Washington

Metro map of Washington Full resolution
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Washington Metrorail map

  • Also Known As: Metrorail
  • Passengers/Day 1040000
  • Fares:
  • 24h operation: No
  • Air Conditioning: Yes
  • Walk between platforms: No
  • Driverless trains: No
  • Screen Doors Platforms: No
  • $2
  • Washington Metro Official Website

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