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Car Travel: Driving in D.C. can be a headache. Traffic is usually congested, and the road layout is designed for frustration, with one-way streets popping up at just the wrong moment. Once you've reached your destination, the real challenge begins: D.C. may be the most difficult city in America in which to find a place to park. All of this means that if you have a car you'd be wise to leave it at your hotel and use public transit whenever possible.
Metro and Bus Travel: The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority operates a network of subway lines (known locally as the Metro) and bus routes throughout D.C. Most popular tourist attractions are near Metro stops, though certain areas are only accessible by bus, most notably Georgetown and Adams Morgan.
Metro fares depend on the distance traveled. Fares range from $1.95 to $5.00 during morning and evening rush hours and on weekends after midnight, and from $1.60 to $2.75 at all other times. Bus fares are $1.70 (exact change only) for regular routes, and $3.85 for express routes, though holders of plastic SmarTrip cards get a 20¢ discount on each. Since January 2009, the popular free transfers between buses are available only to SmarTrip holders; transfers from the Metro to the bus take 50¢ off your bus fare using SmarTrip. One-day passes on the Metro are available for $9, and weekly bus tickets run $15. Both can be purchased online.
Metro and Bus Information
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (202/637-7000. www.wmata.com.)
Taxi Travel: In 2007, D.C. made the controversial switch from zone to metered taxicabs. There is a $3 minimum base charge, with the rate increasing 25¢ for every sixth of a mile and for every minute either stopped in traffic or going slower than 10 mi per hour. When gas prices jumped in 2008, the city applied an additional $1 gas surcharge to each trip. That charge was removed in December 2008, but will probably return if prices at the pump rise again.
District of Columbia Taxicab Commission (202/645-6018. www.dctaxi.dc.gov.)
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