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Taking Metro in Washington, D.C.

The Metro system is a great way to get to hundreds of popular locations and attractions in Washington D.C. and neighboring Virginia and Maryland. Metro provides easy access to attractions such as the National Mall, White House and National Zoo. It also connects to other transit options via stations at Reagan National Airport, Dulles International Airport and Union Station — where you can hop onto commuter rail options including Amtrak, Virginia Railway Express and Maryland Area Regional Commuter lines. You can find out more about the region’s commuter rail options by following this link.

Key Points

  • Get a SmarTrip card. There are SmarTrip kiosks at every Metrorail station and it’s fairly easy to add value to each card.
  • Paper farecards are the devil—Metro adds $1 to your fare each way with paper farecards.
  • When you’re on an escalator at a Metrorail station, stand to the right so fast-movers can pass to the left.

D.C. Metro Map

The D.C. Metro map is critical to understanding how to get to your destination. Metro features six color-coded lines: Red, Blue, Orange, Silver, Red, Yellow and Green. Stations are indicated by small white circles. Double circles indicate transfer points. Lines running adjacently on the map indicate shared track, in which case both lines are available from stations along that portion of the system. Dashed lines indicated Rush Plus service. During rush times, some Orange and Yellow Line trains will travel on this path instead of their usual path. This is indicated on trains and station information boards at the train’s destination station. If you are traveling during rush periods to stations where these trains deviate from their regular route, pay special attention to each train’s final station. A moment of inattention might take you to the wrong place.

Shared Track and Platforms

Here are some notable shared track and platforms, which might affect your commute:

  • The Yellow Line and Green Line share track between Fort Totten Station and L’Enfant Station
  • The Yellow Line and Blue Line share track between Pentagon Station and King Street Station
  • The Blue Line, Orange Line, and Silver Line share track between Rosslyn Station and Stadium-Armory Station
  • The Blue Line and Silver Line additionally share track between Benning Road Station and Largo Town Center Station
  • The Orange Line and Silver Line additionally share track between Court House Station and East Falls Church Station

Transfer Points

Metro has several transfer points where three or more lines converge, allowing riders to switch lines:

  • Gallery Place Station (Red, Green and Yellow)
  • L’Enfant Station (Blue, Orange, Silver, Green and Yellow)
  • Fort Totten Station (Red, Green and Yellow)
  • Metro Center Station (Red, Blue, Orange and Silver)

D.C. Streetcar

Meanwhile in the District of Columbia, the D.C. Streetcar returned following an absence of more than 50 years. It its current iteration, launched in February 2016, the Streetcar consists of one 2.2-mile surface line that extends along H Street and Benning Road in northeast Washington.

There are several additional lines being proposed, including one on K Street that would extend from Union Station to K Street NE, then run west to 26th Street NW. It would link with the H Street/Benning Road Line at Union Station, via a pedestrian bridge which would require passengers to alight at Union Station and board an unconnected line.

Good news for commuters: The D.C. Streetcar is currently free to ride until further notice by the District Department of Transportation. Here are the operating hours:

  • Monday-Thursday: 6:00 a.m. - midnight
  • Friday: 6:00 a.m. - 2:00 a.m.
  • Saturday: 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 a.m
  • Sunday & Holidays: 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Here’s a guide on things to do along the H Street/Benning Road line.

D.C. Streetcar
D.C. Streetcar
Photo courtesy of DDOT