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eecherrry110 Jun 28th, 2015 04:37 PM

Washington, D.C. Metro info please?
What site(s) are best for knowing how to navigate the metro? We will be staying just outside of DC in the Arlington area. Any help greatly appreciated!!

elberko Jun 28th, 2015 04:44 PM

The website:

Dukey1 Jun 28th, 2015 07:17 PM

Exactly where in Arlington?

NewbE Jun 28th, 2015 07:31 PM

If you've ever navigated any big city metro/subway system, it won't take you long to figure out DC's Metro--just take a minute to look at the big lighted map inside every station, or yes, consult the website in advance.

If you've never navigated such a system, it might take you 3-5 minutes to figure it out, but it's dead easy.

Do you have specific questions or concerns?

Dukey1 Jun 28th, 2015 08:06 PM

Having lived in Washington before there even was a "metro" I can say that dead easy doesn't always happen especially when those farecard machines aren't working properly but for the most part if you aren't colorblind you can get where you want to go.

NewbE Jun 29th, 2015 07:20 AM

Sigh. Yes, occasionally, fare card machines and escalators and even trains break down. I see no reason to focus on that, but to each his own.

BigRuss Jun 29th, 2015 07:45 AM

<<especially when those farecard machines aren't working properly>>

which is all too frequent.

There are six lines total. The silver and orange lines, for your purposes, are identical because they go to all the same places between Arlington and the Anacostia River. The blue line runs with them through the district, and with the silver east of the Anacostia.

The yellow line is a shortcut from Arlington to the district because it goes directly from Arlington to the center of the National Mall.

If you can read the map, you're good. If you can use the trip planner on the wmata website, you'll get directions to places of interest:

clarkgriswold Jun 29th, 2015 08:35 AM

Google metro directions are probably the easiest for you to use...if you know your starting and ending points.

gail Jun 29th, 2015 11:09 AM

One important tip. When you buy a fare card/ticket, do not put in near your cell phone. I loaded $20 on one this fall and it became demagnetized/unrecognizable by fare machine. The guy said it was from my cell phone. Might have been, since I put it in a pocket in cell phone case.

There is also a Metro phone app you can download for free. It at least gives you a visual of the system.

obxgirl Jun 29th, 2015 11:33 AM


1. Buy Smartrip Cards. You can purchase them on line before you go but it's very easy to buy in any metro station. Cost is $10, $2 for the card and $8 in fare which you can add to when/if needed. From Arlington you can plan on your rides being in the $3 or less range. Less during the non rush hours. If you use paper tickets as opposed to a plastic Smartrip card, you will be charged $1 surcharge per ride. The plastic Smartrip cards do not get demagnetized by cell phones. The post above refers to the paper tickets.

2. You will each need a card or paper ticket. The same card is required to enter and exit the system unlike places like NYC where two people can pass a card back and forth for entry and payment.

3. Do a little research with google maps about which metro station is closest to your destination. If you're mostly going to be visiting places on or around the National Mall, Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Archives, and L'Enfant Plaza may be your station of choice. Every museum or site website will tell you which metro station is closest. You may also find the distance between two places is shorter to walk than metro.

obxgirl Jun 29th, 2015 11:43 AM

<i>The yellow line is a shortcut from Arlington to the district because it goes directly from Arlington to the center of the National Mall.</i>

Not uniformly the case. If the OP is staying in Crystal City that would be true. If the OP is staying in Rosslyn, Courthouse or Ballston areas then the Orange/Silver lines will be the most direct lines into the city.

As someone else noted, the system isn't complicated. The maps are pretty clear.

NewbE Jun 29th, 2015 11:47 AM

It would take longer to read all these comments than to just look at the big lighted sign in the station and take it from there!

november_moon Jun 29th, 2015 04:23 PM

I agree that the Metro is really easy to use. There are system maps in each station and signage is good. From the map, you just need to determine which color line and which direction to go on that line.

Getting Smartrip cards is a very good idea - these are much easier to use than the paper cards, and since you get a discount on each fare for using the Smartrip card, the card pays for itself very quickly.

The only thing that kind of screwed me up when I first started using the Metro is when exiting the station, not paying attention to which exit I wanted. It's not a big deal, but with some of the larger stations, you might come out around the block from where you want to be. The exits are usually identified by cross street - i.e. 12th and F.

gardendiva Jun 30th, 2015 10:21 AM

I come from a city with very little mass transit. I found the Metro easy to use with the correct tools. The large maps inside each station are great but you have to actually go into the station to use them.

My favorite tool is a paper map by Map Easy. It has all of the metro stations marked, along with their names, and a map of the whole system (a replica of the map inside each station).

On my last trip I was with someone that liked to use the mobile app. Sometimes it gave us an ending point that was not as close to where we actually need to go than I could figure out from the map.

Truly, it was the best $8 I spent.

gardendiva Jun 30th, 2015 10:27 AM

One tip that I don't see so far. Once you have determined what line you need to take and which direction you need to go. Follow that line to the end and it will give you the last station on that particular line. Use that name when trying to find the platform you need to be on.

The poles in the station usually list all of the stops but I found it easiest to look for the last stop. It is usually in larger print.

Another tip is if you find that you are going in the wrong direction just get off at the next stop and cross over to the other side of the platform. Do not leave the station. You will be charged for a second ride.

Once you get the hang of it, it is the best thing since sliced bread.

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