Guide to D.C.’s Public Transportation

March 1, 2014 8:00 AM

Washington, D.C. is one of the most easily accessible cities in the country. While it may not have quite the extensive subway system that New York has, it is still great for the area. Along with that, there are buses and other means of public transportation. Ditch the car and try one of these greener methods instead. Don’t forget your SmarTrip card.

Metro Rail
600 5th St. NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 637-7000

The metro rail, subway for out-of-towners, is one of the hot button items in Washington, D.C. There are often complaints about reliability, single tracking, wait times, price and safety. But it is still one of the best ways to get around in the city. Despite what some may say, it is fairly simple and easy to understand. There are only four (but will eventually be five) lines that can take you all over the city. For commuters, the metro can be a costly pain, but they are still glad to have the option.

Metro Bus 
600 5th St. NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 637-7000 

Metro buses can be a great alternative to the Metro Rail. In some cases they are faster and more reliable, and rarely have to offload. They also cover all three regions, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, and will take you farther into each region than the rail does. If you do not want to walk a mile or more or pay for a cab, the bus is a cheap way for you to get around. At less than two dollars, it is one of the cheapest forms of public transportation in the area. And for just a few dollars more you can take a bus to local airports BWI and Dulles International.

(202) 962-1423

Taking a page from Baltimore’s Charm City Circulator, D.C. has its own version of the popular bus system. The Circulator is a combination of the Metro Rail and Metro Bus systems, taking the color coordination from the rail system and the bus route from the bus system. Initially, the Circulator was very limited in the routes, but has since expanded to service more areas including Georgetown, Adams Morgan, Union Station, Navy Yard and more. At $1, it is the cheapest form of public transportation in D.C. And one of the best parts is that the Circulator takes SmarTrip!

Related: Best Local Transportation To Get To FedEx Field

Capital Bikeshare 
(877) 430-2453 

The most environmentally friendly and healthy forms of public transportation are all done manually. Being able to walk from your front door to your office is great, but not everyone has that luxury. The next best thing is biking. Biking has become a very popular form of transportation in the country. Companies like Capital Bikeshare allow customers to rent bikes from various stands around the city, for a fee. The service is great for people who just want a way to get around that isn’t crowded, or for tourists who want to ride around and see the sites. Membership is required, but there are different price points: daily, monthly and annually. With more and more Bikeshare locations popping up, it is even easier to pick up and drop off a bike wherever you need to.

(410) 539-5000 

The number of commuters that come into DC everyday is staggering. A census from last year showed nearly half a million people commuted into the city each day; many of these people coming from almost an hour away. The MARC train allows those who don’t live in the Metro Rail or Metro Bus region to make it into the city. It services Maryland, a stop in DC, and even as far as parts of West Virginia. This light rail gives non-drivers and commuters the opportunity to travel into other parts of the area with little hassle. Hop on the MARC and take a day trip out of your city.

Related: Best Holiday Travel Tips For People From DC

Folashade Oyegbola is a freelance writer covering all things D.C. Her work can be found on

More From CBS DC

CBSLocal App
Watch Live

Listen Live