Useful Tips

Washington Metro - how to use?


Washington, DC, is the capital of the United States. The capital is the most important city and the face of the country, and in theory, everything should be fine there. But the metro in Washington contradicts this principle. Absolutely all stations are the same, built on two projects. The stations are not designed in any way, bare dark gray concrete and red tile floor. The stations are very dirty, apparently no one is cleaning concrete. The lighting is very weak, the backlight goes only from below, with lamps along the walls. I would say that the metro is just depressing, it feels like a nuclear war started upstairs, and this is a large abandoned bomb shelter.

And it is not surprising that there is practically no advertising here. In such a crypt, it just won’t work! The metro in New York, in its simplicity, is similar, but there in the center of the centennial station and their design with rivets and beautiful mosaics is already a monument in the art deco style. The subway in San Francisco is also not a fountain, but it is decorated much better. In fact, it’s enough to cover the concrete with some kind of false panels, and hang up normal lighting so that the stations are bright and beautiful.

Here you can clearly see the attitude of the Americans. The USA is a very, very developed country and almost everything has been done for people. But many things can be said to have been done somehow carelessly. No, of course this is not a scoop, where everyone just does not care. But compared to the approach of the Europeans, everything is much less accurate. For example, road tiles will be laid correctly, but a little crookedly and with noticeable joints, and halves of tiles will not be cut near the walls. Around the round columns at the airport, which abut against a ceiling sheathed with square panels, there are no rounded paneling. Many little things, it's just a perfectionist’s nightmare, they immediately rush and cut their eyes. It seems that now, look how noticeable it is, to modify it a little bit, to clean the windows more often and everything will be fine and the look will please, but not - everywhere there is some trifle that glows just like a red rag - I’m here, I’m here, look at me, how crooked I am!

It seems to me that this is essentially the Americans. They just do not worry about it, but take care of completely different things. For example, half of the Americans are dressed a bit sloppy. White pants with a black jacket and sneakers, that's fine. On the head of half the women there is something as if she had just woken up from the bed, without combing her hair, tied her hair into a bun and immediately went outside. I was a little worried that I was going to another country in an old five-year-old jacket (it is very convenient for traveling), but on the first day I realized that it was even nothing. Look at American cars, some kind of Ford or Chrysler, all of them are much less elegant than European or Japanese (and some are just scary). All of the above applies more to the west coast and less to the east. In eastern (California), it seems to me that the “engineering” culture is higher.

Continue about the subway. At the moment, a branch is being completed for the city, which will go to Dulles airport. Now it is half completed, and you need to change to a bus. A branch outside the city comes to the surface. By the way, the main airport in Washington is located quite far from the city, and getting there is not very convenient. There is also an airport right in the city, but not all flights fly there.

There are five branches in total: orange, blue, green, yellow and red. As in other cities in the United States, they are not completely divided, but go part of the route together at the same stations. To go on the appropriate branch, you need to change trains. For example, blue and orange, as well as yellow and green branches 70% go to the same stations.

This scheme does not have the drawback of the metro in the former USSR, when there are several heavily loaded points for transplanting. On the other hand, you need to wait for the train of your branch and sometimes for a long time. Trains actually run quite unimportantly. Our metro, where every 5 minutes a train clearly arrives even on weekends, is just up to punctuality. In Washington, I waited twice for a train for 25 minutes. Twenty-five minutes on the subway on Sunday afternoon.

On Sunday, it seems not customary to travel around the city. Most stores close as early as 6 pm, including grocery and clothing.

Metro is not cheap by our standards. The cost of the trip depends on the station at which you sit and the one at which you go. The shortest trip (one station) will be at least 2.5 dollars. The trip to the station towards the airport is almost five. At rush hour prices are even higher. The ticket must be inserted during the entrance to the station and during the exit. There are two types of tickets - paper with a magnetic strip and a smart card. A paper ticket can also be reusable (the remaining amount is printed on it every time), but it is free. A card costs an extra $ 2.

Machines in which you need to credit money to cards are a nightmare for an interface developer. It's hard to figure it out for the first time. Gossip is that there can be 6 such machines at one station, and two at another. One can have machines where you can top up both smart and paper cards, at another station only smart cards. If you don’t put enough money on the card, then you won’t be able to get to the station and you need to replenish it in another type of slot machine, which accepts only the cache and does not give change.

Subway lines

There are six metro lines:

  1. The Red Line (Glenmont - Shadi Grove) - connects two counties: Montgomery and Columbia with the state of Maryland. There are land and underground sections on the Red Line. On the route, consisting of 27 stations, 44 trains run with a daily interval of 6 minutes, an evening interval of 12 minutes.
  2. Orange Line (New Carrollton - Vienne) - Located in Fairfax, Arlington, and Prince George Counties. There are 30 trains on the route from 26 stations.
  3. Blue line (Franconia-Springfield - the center of Largo) - this line contains common areas, as well as common stations with the Orange, Yellow and Silver lines.
  4. Green Line (Branch Avenue - Greenbelt) - A 21-station route connects Prince George County, DC and Maryland. On the Green Line there are 8 common stations with the Yellow Line and interchange stations for all other lines.
  5. Yellow Line (Vienna-New Carolton) - consists of 17 stations that serve 30 trains. Located in Fairfax, Arlington, Washington, and Prince George County.
  6. Silver line (East Falls - International Airport) - was opened in 2014, a significant part of the route is combined with the Orange and Blue lines.
  7. The Purple Line is a line under construction in Maryland.

Metro lines often intersect with each other, so that passengers have the opportunity to change trains and get to the right place.


Metro opening hours: opens at 5.00 on weekdays and at 7.00 on weekends. The subway closes at midnight.

To travel on the metro, you need a SmartTrip card, it can have an amount from 2 to 45 dollars. Rates range from $ 2 to $ 6 per trip, depending on the destination and time of day. The fare is always higher during peak hours from 5.30 to 9.30 and from 15.00 to 19.00. The fare for the day is $ 14.

The fare is automatically read from the card when exiting the subway. One and the same card can be reused by adding money to it in a ticket machine.

A SmartTrip card costs $ 5, it must be registered, after which the card can be replaced in case of theft or loss. Replacing a card costs $ 5, the entire amount on the card will be saved.

Children under 4 years old can use the metro services absolutely free if an adult travels with them for full payment. Children over 5 years old pay at the full rate.

Columbia students have special student discount tickets.

Elderly people over 65 and people with disabilities enjoy a reduced rate of half the usual fare.

Rules and Tips

Keep in mind:

  • It is forbidden to drink and eat in the subway.
  • Disabled persons must move in special chairs.
  • The busiest days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
  • The call button (in emergency situations) is located at the end of each carriage and at each station. To talk with the dispatcher, you need to dial the number "0".

How to use the Washington metro?

The following information will also be helpful:

  • During peak hours, trains are always very crowded, so if there is a possibility, it is better to reschedule the trip to a calmer time.
  • Between rush hours there are discounts on fares.
  • Since there are always a lot of people in the subway, a trip with large luggage will not be very convenient.
  • Metro stations are indicated by brown squares with the letter "M", just as stations are indicated on tourist maps.
  • In the vending machine, you must select the final destination in order to calculate the cost of the trip.
  • Entrance to the metro is through turnstiles with a white or green arrow. The ticket must be inserted into the turnstile with the arrow up, then get it. The ticket cannot be lost, because it is necessary to exit the subway. A travel card tends to be demagnetized when kept near a mobile phone.
  • On the escalator you need to stand on the right side so that people on the left side can move freely.
  • At some metro stations there are two platforms for different directions. Stations with one platform serve trains that travel in different directions. In order to avoid confusion, it is necessary to accurately study the guide signs and monitor the scoreboard.

How to understand the subway?

In order not to get lost in the Washington subway, you need to know a few simple rules:

  • On the main train car the color of its line and the final arrival station are on. To understand where the train is going, you just need to know the starting and ending stations of the line. Compositions of different colors come to the same platform.
  • The names of all stations are written on information stands, also an information board always works, where there is all the information about the arrival of the train.