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Getting Around Washington, D.C.

View of subway train in Washington DC subway station, and people waiting for train on opposite platform

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Metrorail

The second-busiest rail system in the country, with six train lines covering 188 miles and 91 stations, is the most convenient way to reach many of the attractions in and around the city (download a map in advance). It's safe, clean, relatively inexpensive and easy to navigate. As you’re wandering, look for posts marked M to find the nearest station. Be sure to keep your fare card handy, as you’ll need it to exit as well as to enter.

The Metro no longer offers single-ride fare cards — each rider must have a $2 reloadable SmarTrip card, which can be purchased or loaded online or in stations. During commuting hours rides cost a minimum of $2 and a maximum of $6 in each direction, depending on your route (on top of the price of the card).

Buses

The 24-hour Metrobus system is often cheaper than the Metro and can be convenient for areas that the underground system doesn’t reach. You can use and reload the same Metro SmarTrip card on the buses, but you cannot purchase a new card on one. Buses also accept exact change (fares cost $2). But they may be packed and slow during commuting hours. The exception is the Circulator, a bus with six color routes that takes you to many points of interest. You can use your SmarTrip card or exact change for a $1 fare or a $7 three-day pass. All buses (including the Circulator) are equipped with ramps and wheelchair areas.

Ways to save: Those 65 and over with ID and exact change can get on any bus for $1, or the Circulator for 50 cents.

Taxis/Ride sharing

Taxicabs are abundant in the city. Fares are distance based, with a base rate of $3.50. Uber and Lyft also have drivers all over town and charge $5 to $7 a mile (more during high-volume periods). Taxi TransportationDC Taxi and Yellow Cabhave wheelchair-accessible vehicles (reserve by phoning ahead).

Bike sharing/rentals

It’s not quite Amsterdam, but in recent years D.C. has become a bikeable city. It now ranks third in the nation for bike commuting because of an increase in protected lanes, signage and policies. Hopping onto a bike share is easier than ever. Capital Bikeshare has 440 docking stations across the district, Maryland and Virginia and offers three-day passes for $17 (but provides no helmets). More recently, companies such as MobikeLimeBike and Jump have established “dockless” bikes, which eliminate the need to find a station to leave your bike at when you’re done.

Accessibility

D.C. prides itself on being one of the most accessible cities in the world. Except for a few more historic neighborhoods where you may find bricked sidewalks, they are mostly smooth and even, with curb cuts at every intersection, and all those wonderful museums and monuments comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. ScootAround offers scooter and wheelchair rentals for a minimum of three days. Cars with disability tags can park for free at metered spaces.

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