(Opinion) 6+ Tips for using the Metro in DC

Visiting the capital for the first time and trying to be as eco-friendly as possible? Using the buses and trains to reduce your carbon footprint is a great choice.

Planning ahead is the key to keeping Zen on the metro. I have listed specific tips below to help you navigate your way around:

  • Have hand sanitizer at the ready: People sneeze and cough regularly, and considering the escalator rails and supports posts you will have to use, it’s always good to be prepared.

escalatorWhen using the escalator: Stand on the right, walk on the left (while you may not mind that you’re going to miss that train, for someone else it may mean the difference between making it on time or being late to work

Nothing is worse than trying to figure out where you are supposed to be headed in the midst of all of the hustle and bustle on the platform itself, or worse finding out there are delays or track work along your route at the last moment. To avoid these things happening to you visit the trip planner offered by wmata.com.

  • If you are choosing not to use the trip planner and plan to take the train, use google maps to determine which metro station is the best for your destination. For example: Most tourist’s I have seen always assume that the Smithsonian stop is the best stop for the museums, while this is not always true. As an example I have listed the following museums and the closest train stops:

Air and Space: L’enfant plaza                 Natural History Museum: Archives

Holocaust Museum: Smithsonian

  • When catching a bus: figure out which side of the road you need to be on to catch the bus going in the direction you are headed, you can use the stop id on the sign at the bus stop using wmata.com’s nextbus to see when to expect your bus.
  • Have exact change for the bus: the current fare is $1.75 for one person on the bus. Credit cards or are not accepted, and no change is given.


  • When purchasing or reloading a smartrip card at the station (buy yours here), use cash as a LAST RESORT. If the machine takes your physical money, there are forms to fill out and you may or may not get it back. If you use a credit or debit card, any charge that didn’t correctly process onto your card will be removed from your account within 3 business days.

Always try your best not to make it obvious you are a tourist. As much as the metro tries to keep it’s riders safe, there are no guarantee’s. Here are my recommendations on that front:

  • Bring a backpack and keep your camera and museum related things there.
  • Keep your Smartrip handy, not in your wallet.
  • If you must use your phone, use both hands and move toward the center of the car. NEVER stand by the door while using your phone if you are fond of it.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings. If something or someone doesn’t look right, trust your instinct and move to another car.
  • Try to aim for the train cars in the middle of the train and not the front or the back, in case of a collision.
  • Download a map of the rail system like the one below directly from wmata.com Here.

That’s all that I’ve got for today. You can find even more information on wmata’s Official Riders Guide

metro map


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