Partly Cloudy 41°

MetroCommuter Hacks

How to Use the Metro in Washington, DC

​1: Buy a SmarTrip card, which makes paying for your rides a breeze.

Bring a credit or debit card to any Metro station and follow the instructions at the electronic kiosks. A station attendant is usually nearby to help if you run into any issues. Allow extra time for the initial purchase and crediting of your card.

2: Bookmark on your smartphone browser before you travel so you’ll never have to look for a Metro train map in the stations or aboard trains.

The trip planner on the homepage is an especially useful tool to plan your trip from door-to-door.

3: Exercise a little escalator etiquette.

If you intend to just stand instead of walk up or down the escalator, stand in a single-file line to the right to allow the speed demons to pass to your left. If you’re carrying luggage, make sure your bags are positioned to the right side as well.

4: Pay attention and move quickly on and off trains.

When boarding Metro trains, first allow room for riders to exit. While you’re on the train, make room for others to enter and exit. Start preparing to exit the train when you arrive one stop before your final destination and move swiftly so the trains can depart on time.

5: Sit every chance you get.

Visitors tend to squeeze a lot of activities into a few short hours. That means a lot of standing and walking. So grab a seat on the train or at the station. Your sore dogs will thank you.

6: Make sure you’re on the right train headed in the right direction.

If you stand on the wrong side of the station platform, you may end up boarding the wrong train or heading in the wrong direction. Double-check the train color (orange, blue, silver, yellow, red and green) listed on the front and side of each car. With multiple lines available at a number of stations, you can easily catch the wrong train.

7: Allow extra time for trips.

A little time buffer can help absorb the blows that come from maintenance issues, long waits (especially on nights and weekends), and large crowds for special events such as Nationals games. Better to be early than late, especially for restaurants looking to pawn off your reserved dinner table to someone else.

8: If you’re lost, ask a local for help.

Local Metro riders are generally nice and helpful. If a local starts making sudden movements, she probably isn’t trying to shank you. She’s likely pointing you in the right direction. Smile and thank her for her help.

Related articles

  1. Metro made progress in avoiding a strike by workers.

    Metro Strike is Looking Less Likely

    Metro said it reached a new contract agreement with one union, while talks continued with another.

    Read More
  2. Metro has added wireless service in the tunnel between Union Station and DuPont Circle

    Two More Metro Tunnel Segments Get Wireless Service

    The service additions represent nearly 9 miles of tunnel segments along the Green, Yellow and Red Lines.

    Read More
  3. Record-Setting Rain Floods Roads, Highways Across DC Metro Area

    Flood risks persist thanks to more forecasted rain this week.

    Read More
  4. Metro workers voted overwhelmingly to authorizeUnion leaders to strike.

    Metro Issues Statement on Union Strike Authorization

    Metro said dialogue is ongoing between managers and union officials.

    Read More
  5. Metro union workers vote on strike authorization.

    Metro Union Members Vote to Authorize Potential Strike

    It wasn’t immediately clear if or when one might occur, or how much notice the union would provide.

    Read More
  6. Union members gather at headquarters to vote on strike.

    7 Ways to Commute If Metro Workers Strike

    A work stoppage would cripple transit in the region, but there are still many ways to get around town.

    Read More
  7. Some bus riders may have experienced delays on July 4.

    Metro Reports Bus Delays Due to ‘Unauthorized Labor Action’

    Many Metro workers reportedly came to work late Wednesday, leading to some service disruptions on Metrobus.

    Read More