D.C. is a mecca of internships, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, museums, theaters, memorials, and roadtrip opportunities. Fast, affordable transportation adds to the enjoyment of each spot you attend. Public transportation in DC must be paid for at the time of service. The most convenient way to do so is to use a SmarTrip card, which is accepted on both Metro and bus services. A complementary SmarTripcard will be provided to you by the Newhouse DC Program. To add funds to your card, you may either use the charging stations located at every Metro station or register your card on WMATA’s website and use their online system, where you can also set your card to be automatically recharged whenever the balance gets low. It is advised to download the “Transit” app because it has the most up to date transit options based on your location.
The Metrorail or simply the Metro - is quick, cheap, and easy to use. It runs on six lines which cover most of the downtown areas and suburbs (with the notable exception of Georgetown). Each line is color-coded and studded with various interchange stations: Metro Center, L’Enfant Plaza and Gallery Place-Chinatown are the most important downtown. Stations are identifiable outside by the letter “M” on top of a brown pylon; inside, the well-lit, uncluttered, vaulted halls make the Washington Metro one of the safest in the world, but take the usual precautions as there has been a small uptick in crimes in the system. Metrorail service hours begin at 5 am Monday through Friday and close at midnight from Sunday-Thursday. Stations open at 7 am Saturday and Sunday, and close at 3 am on Friday and Saturday. During rush hour, services run every five-six minutes on most lines, and every 10-12 minutes at other times. Each passenger needs a SmarTrip fare card before passing through the turnstiles. Fares are based onwhen and how far you travel; maps and ticket prices are posted by the machines.Tap your card at the turnstile before passing through; when you do the same thing at the end of the journey, the total fare, based on how far you traveled, is deducted from the value of your card. If you don’t have enough money remaining on the card for the journey, insert it into one of the special exit-fare machines, deposit more money and try the turnstile again. You don’t need to remove your card from your wallet because the machine will sense your card in your wallet. More information, including maps, fare schedules, and trip planners are available at the Washington. Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s website at https://wmata.com.
Metro bus is perhaps the most often used mode of transportation. At some major Metro subway stations, information on major lines serving that particular station is available at the attendant booth. Maps of bus routes are available. To get to Georgetown from the Hill you can take any even numbered 30 line (30, 32, 34, etc.). If you are working in DuPont Circle, the G2 bus is your ticket to Georgetown. The bus costs $1.75 and that includes up to two transfers within a two-hour period. As a supplement to its normal bus lines, DC also offers a bus service called the Circulator that offers cheap and frequent trips between popular locations in the city. Each trip costs $1 and buses are scheduled every ten minutes throughout the day. More information about Circulator routes and schedules are available on its website at http://www.dccirculator.com.
These two systems work together. If you take the circulator ($1.00) and then transfer to a bus, your bus fare will only be $0.75. If you take a bus ($1.75) and transfer to a circulator, you will not be charged an additional fare. If you transfer from Metrorail to a bus, your bus fare will be $1.25. If you transfer from bus to Metrorail, there is no discount on your Metrorail ride.
Cabs are readily available and metered. The base fare starts at $3.25 and there are additional charges per person ($1.50 per person). To save money, try to share a cab with someone. Also, be sure that the cab is a registered cab and not a“fake;” you can tell by making sure that they've posted their identification cards on their sun visors. You can call for a pick-up, but there is a $2 increase in prices. The top three companies are Yellow Cab Company of D.C. 202-546-7900, Taxi Transportation Service 202-398-0500, and V.I.P. Cab Company 202-269-9000.
Uber and Lyft, and particularly the UberPOOL service, provides a cheaper and in many ways more pleasant car service experience. Uber is notable in that you can generally arrange (and schedule) a pickup and drop-off anywhere in DC (DC cab drivers sometimes refuse to drive to certain neighborhoods, even though it is illegal for them to refuse.) and that all payment is handled through the app, so you don’t have to worry about having enough cash. Riders should be aware that Uber practices “surge pricing,” meaning that the ride cost increases when rider demand is high in an area. More information can be found on Uber’s website at https://www.uber.com.
A car is convenient for weekend road trips and occasionally for evening activities. But during the day, traffic is horrible, and inexpensive parking spaces are scarce. Especially during the summer and holiday seasons, the streets of DC become jammed with tourists and impatient locals. If you want to rent a car, shop around. Terms of most rentals vary: you have to be 21 to 25 years old (25 is usually the standard). Prices will vary but are usually quite expensive during vacation season. Most rent-a-car agencies are at the airport, but there are a few downtown. Make reservations in advance (usually you need a credit card -- check to see if your credit card company guarantees damage expenses when you use their card to reserve a car). They will rent to you with a government I.D. even if you are not 25.
If you plan to take frequent trips or can split the cost between several people, consider investing in a Zipcar membership or car2go. Syracuse University has a partnership with Zipcar and reduced or discounted membership fees may be available. https://www.zipcar.com/universities
Provides DC with an extensive bike-sharing network that includes over 2,500 bicycles and 300 stations. When the weather is good, bicycling to work can be much faster than taking a train or bus.! While Capital Bikeshare offers monthly memberships, you may also rent a bike from one of the many stations throughout the city using only a credit card. https://www.capitalbikeshare.com