DC Metro Rail – A Far Superior Alternative to Driving!

My girlfriend and I just spent two days last week in beautiful Washington DC. Looking to save some money, we stayed outside the city, in College Park, MD (about 25km from the city centre). To avoid driving in DC traffic as much as possible, we were relieved to hear there was a Metro station nearby. For both days, we took the Metro train into the city. We were really impressed with the service! Even at the edges of the service area where we started, the system offers 5-minute peak service and 20-minute off-peak service, a refreshing feeling compared to Toronto’s GO Transit system which up until last year had 60-minute off-peak service at best.

The Metro system made it incredibly easy to get around the city. It was clean, had plenty of sitting space, and the attendants were helpful and friendly. Additionally, the 25km trip to the city centre took only 35 minutes and cost just $3.50 each way. At a price like that, the transit service is truly accessible to anyone looking to use it. And who wouldn’t want to? We learned very quickly that driving traffic around the city is brutal.

The DC Metro service also uses its own Smart Cards for payment. They cost $2 to purchase, but they can be easily reloaded at any station and save transit users $1 off every metro trip taken. The cards also give you a discount when transferring to regional busses.

Overall, I was impressed by:

  • Reasonably-priced fares ($3.50 from end-of-the-line to downtown)
  • High frequency of service (20-minute off-peak, 5-minute peak)
  • Clean stations and trains, with lots of space
  • Trains were electrified, allowing them to accelerate quickly and quietly

For anyone traveling to DC, I would absolutely recommend staying on the outskirts and taking the Metro in. We were able to get a hotel for $75 a night with free parking and a shuttle service to the nearest station. Downtown is incredibly expensive and can blow a budget pretty quickly.

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