Washington D.C., do I need rental car?

Old Jul 19th, 2001, 10:27 PM
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Washington D.C., do I need rental car?

Our family of four (2 adults,2 teens)will be visiting Washington D.C. in August for seven days, flying into BWI and out of Dulles. I have booked a rental car but now am wondering if I should keep it; the expense will be about $270.00. Would we be better off taking a shuttle of taxi to and from the airports and metro (and our feet) throughout the week?
Old Jul 19th, 2001, 11:31 PM
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You definitely don't want a car in DC. The public transport- buses, taxis, and subway are great,and reasonably priced. In addition many of the places you'll go are close together, and you'll be sightseeing as you stroll.
We spent a week there and were glad not to have a car...parking and traffic are terrible! One thing we really enjoyed to get an overview of the city was the tourist trolley. You buy a day pass and and can hop off and on at all the sights. We stopped at all the far flung ones that day, and saved the mall for our walking.
Old Jul 20th, 2001, 04:51 AM
former D.C. resident
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NO, you won't need a car. A shuttle from BWI to D.C. is about $50. Also, I don't know if you figured in the expense (and hassle) of PARKING the car. You should check with the hotel you are staying at to see if they offer a cheaper shuttle to/from the airport than the airport taxi. You can always pick up a rental car for one day once you get there if you feel like driving out of the city for some reason, but you won't need it in D.C.
Old Jul 20th, 2001, 08:02 AM
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Another vote for forgetting the car. You can take a commuter train (MARC -- cheaper than Amtrak) from BWI right into Union Station in DC, and then use the metro to take you pretty much anywhere you want to go, or take cabs which are pretty inexpensive.

Unfortunately there is no good public transportation to Dulles, but you can take a cab or shuttle.

Just make sure you bring comfortable walking shoes! You will do a lot of walking while you're here.
Old Jul 20th, 2001, 08:21 AM
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You will not need a car to get around DC. The metro is clean, well organized and efficient, and you can pick up a pass at just about any station.
As others have noted, parking is a major pain and can be quite expensive. Unless you plan a trek to a place not served by Metro or the suburban train systems, a car is more of a liability than an asset in DC.
Old Jul 20th, 2001, 11:20 AM
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Actually, there IS good public transportation to Dulles. They recently started running an express (a few stops--not very many) Metro bus from L'Enfant Plaza to Dulles. It's only $1.25 per person. I think it makes about 3 stops (Rosslyn is one). I don't know the details, but it has been talked about several times on the Washington Post's travel chat. www.washingtonpost.com. Look under "Live Discussions".

Alternatively, a cab will run about $40-$50 to Dulles. Don't take one of the shuttles. Since you have 4 people, a cab will be cheaper.
Old Jul 20th, 2001, 05:44 PM
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We're just back from DC and never felt a need to have a car. We flew in and out of BWI, took the FREE Marc/Amtrack shuttle to the train station, then bought a $5 ticket on MARC to Union Station in DC. It takes about half an hour and is the best, cheapest way to go. Once in DC, we walked just about everywhere, but if you want to use the Metro, an all day pass is $5. Once in a while we took a taxi, but not often. Have a great time, we sure did!
Old Aug 10th, 2001, 08:15 PM
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I would recommend riding the MARC train from BWI to Union Station ($5 fare, but only operates M-F). If you arrive on a weekend, Amtrak fare is about $8 from BWI to Union Station. Very easy, fast, and clean!

Once in town, purchase a Metrorail Short Trip Pass. It costs $17.50, and lets you ride unlimited for one week up to $1.75 fare during rush hour, and any trip at off hours. I use the Short Trip Pass to get to work and about anywhere else I need to go.

The Metrobus that goes to Dulles is the 5A. It leaves about once an hour, so you would need to check the schedule. (www.wmata.com) The bus starts at L'Enfant Plaza Metro, and makes a stop at Rosslyn Metro and two stops in the Reston area (near the airport) before arriving at Dulles. Travel time is about 45 minutes (compared to at least 30 minutes by car) and fare is $1.10 per person. If you have a little time, this is your best bet for getting to Dulles. There is also the Washington Flyer, operated by the airport, that will take you from West Falls Church Metro to Dulles for about $10 per person. E-mail me personally for more info.


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