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Washington DC Transportation


Washington DC Transportation - Washington, D.C. is best known as the capital of the United States. However considering the offerings this city provides to visitors in the field of arts, culture, gardens, parks and history – it is so much more than that. Washington offers amazing shopping opportunities, nightlife hot spots, and attractions throughout the city that can make for a truly wonderful week-long family vacation.

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Washington has three major airports serving it – including Washington Dulles International (IAD), Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA), and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI). Almost all major airlines fly into Washington at one of these airports. DCA is about 15 to 20 minutes from Washington via the Metro system. IAD is about 26 miles outside the city, a 35 to 45 minute drive to the center of DC. BWI is situated about 45 minutes from the center of Washington.

Washington DC is considered one of the easiest cities to navigate. It has the second largest rail transit system in the country. However walking through the small city of Washington is actually fairly easy as well.

The Metrorail system is operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA – www.wmata.com). The system is sometimes overcrowded, especially during rush hours; however the cars are comfortable and not too overly crowded during non-rush hours. The system stretches 106 miles and touches near just about every major attraction in the area. There are five lines, the Red, Blue, Orange, Yellow, and Green. The system is very easy to navigate – the system is color coded, and a Metro System Pocket Guide is available at any kiosk at any Metro Station. When visiting DC for more than a day, consider purchasing the 7-Day Fast Pass or the 1-Day Rail Pass to save some money for unlimited use of the system.

Washington also has a huge Metrobus system that includes over 12,000 stops and serves Virginia and Maryland suburbs. Posted bus schedules are sometimes out of data, so contact 202-637-7000 for a free map and schedule. Bus fair is inexpensive, and a 1 week pass is available for unlimited rides – an excellent value if you plan to use the system a lot.

An additional bus system in DC is called the D.C. Circulator. This bus system travels a north-south route between the D.C. Convention Center and the waterfront, east-west from Georgetown to Union Station, and seasonally connects the Smithsonian and National Gallery. This bus fair is even less than the Metrobus, and SmarTrip Metro cards are also available. Visit www.dccirculator.com for more information.

Driving is not recommended and traffic circles make this city a real hazard to drive sometimes. If possible, park your car and use the public transit system to get around, since it connects all major areas and attractions anyway. Also consider walking around the downtown area on foot, which is a wonderful experience in itself.

Taxi service is another option within DC, and they operate on a zone system, not a meter system. This means that any trip within a zone features a fixed rate regardless of distance traveled. Rates increase as the cross zones, and sometimes surcharges may apply. Rates can be obtained by calling 202-331-1671 for trips from DC to Virginia or Maryland. Call 202-645-6018 for fares within DC itself.

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Washington Interesting Facts

  • The name “Columbia” is a reference to Christopher Columbus, an early explorer of the Americas.
  • In the 19th century, Washington DC was called the Federal City.
  • The population in 2007 was estimated at over 580,000
  • The daytime population of D.C. tops one million.
  • The Washington Metro Area is the eighth-largest city in the United States.
  • D.C. was founded on July 16th, 1790.
  • The site of the Federal District on the Potomac River was chosen by President Washington.
  • The Washington Monument opened in 1888.
  • The first sewing machine was built in Washington in 1845.
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