Master the Metro

The DC Metro – whose full name is Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority or WMATA if you were curious – is one of the nation’s busiest metro systems. Second only to New York City, the DC Metro serves over 600,000 riders each day which can make first-time riders overwhelmed to say the least. Luckily, the ACHA Annual Meeting is in our hometown, and the National Office staff can give out-of-towners a few pointers for successfully navigating the DC Metro on their first try.

  • All passengers need their own SmarTrip card in order to ride the metro. These cards are reusable and re-loadable, and any money saved on these cards does not expire. Cards can be purchased at kiosks at any metro station via cash or credit, or you can order them in advance through the WMATA website.
  • You must scan your SmarTrip card upon entering and exiting the platforms. I’ve seen plenty of people run headlong into the gates on the way out because they didn’t know. Save your knees and scan your card!
  • The WMATA website has a handy Plan Your Trip feature to help you calculate your fares. The host hotels are on the Red Line and are closest to the Woodley Park/Zoo station.
  • The closest transfer point to the Blue, Silver, and Orange lines is Metro Center, and the closest transfer point to the Green and Yellow lines is Gallery Place.
  • Trains follow different schedules on week days and weekends, and peak vs. off-peak hours. On week days you can expect to wait 10-15 minutes for the next train, but on weekends sometimes you can end up waiting 30 minutes or more. Be sure to plan ahead, especially on weekends, to ensure you aren’t spending too much extra time waiting for a train.
  • When riding the escalator to and from the platforms, stand to your right, walk to your left. Standing side by side in a way that blocks the left side is strongly discouraged by fellow Metro riders.
  • Be sure to allow disembarking passengers a chance to exit the train before entering.
  • A full downloadable Metro map can be found here [pdf].There are also maps posted all over every station, as well as in every train car.

Finally, if you get lost, confused, or have a question, ask! D.C. locals are friendly and are happy to point you in the right direction. There is also a station manager at each station who can assist you if needed. Happy riding!

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