There are four primary ways to get around the District:
We’re not going to get prickly if you call it the subway. The Washington Metropolitan Transportation Authority (WMATA) is a sore subject in these parts–the sprawling system will get you just about anywhere you’d want to be, but there is no telling how long it might take to get there.
There are two hubs in the metro system: Gallery-Place/Chinatown which will give you access to the Red, Green and Yellow lines, and Metro Center, which will give you access to the Red, Blue and Orange lines. Grab a paper metro map, rely on the kindness of strangers to get you where you need to go and for god’s sake, stand on the right and walk on the left side of the elevator.
How it works: Each trip on the metro requires a paper ticket or a Smartcard–if you’re in the District for fewer than three days, a paper ticket is probably your best bet. If you’re staying more than a few days, you should make the $5 investment in a re-loadable Smartrip card. You’ll need to tap the card at the gate upon entry and again as you exit the system.
You’ll see these popular red bikes all over town. If you’re visiting a neighborhood or spending time getting around the National Mall, these bikes will do the trick. Stick to the bike lines, remember the rules of the road and watch out for opening car doors.
How it works: Go to any Capital Bikeshare station and follow the directions at the kiosk. Use a credit card to join for the day or for 3 days. When you join at a station, you’ll get an unlocking code. Enter the code at any bike dock. When the green light appears, pull the handlebar firmly toward you to release the bike. Return it to any bike station. You can take a bike as many times as you’d like during your rental period.
Zipcar and Car2Go
How it Works: Sign up in advance, but remember to bring your card and/or your key when you visit the District.
Taxis, Uber and Hailo
If you want to get some where quickly, it’s time to hail a taxi or pull up your Uber/Hailo apps. Taxi rides start at $3.50 the moment you shut the door, plus additional $1.00 if anyone is joining you. All cabs in DC are now required by law to accept credit cards, but if you’ve got the cash your cabbie will appreciate it.
How it Works: If hailing a DC cab, stand on a corner, lift your arm and wait. Don’t whistle, that’s only in the movies. If you want a cab to come to you, download the Uber or Hailo apps, enter your credit card info and request a car.