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Using the metro...

Wahoo, Nebraska
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14 reviews
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Using the metro...

My husband and I are coming to Washington DC in October, we have never traveled without having a car. We are staying in Arlington and I understand that our motel is a block away from the Crystal CIty metro station. My question is, are there staff inside the metro stations that will help us understand using it? I have gotten a map mailed to me and have been studying it, but never using any public transportation like that, I'm still nervous!

GA
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120 posts
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1. Re: Using the metro...

Hi, our family just returned from a weeklong vacation and found the Metro staff extraordinarily helpful. The Metro website and app are also very helpful.

Arlington, Virginia
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for Arlington
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2. Re: Using the metro...

Also, as long as you are not traveling during rush hour, you will likely find locals who are more than willing to help you figure things out.

If your first ride on Metro will take place anytime before 9:30 am (morning rush hour), I might suggest that you walk over to the Metro station the evening before (after 7pm--end of evening rush hour) to get your SmarTrip card and/or check out the layout. You'll probably feel more confident about riding Metro during rush hour if you already have your SmarTrip card and have scoped things out in advance.

Olney, Maryland
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3. Re: Using the metro...

Read the pages on the Metro web site. www.wmata.com

Have you ever been in Chicago? It's not too different, except that the money charge is calculated on you card when you exit (like a debit card for train travel).

Go, Huskers!

Washington DC...
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699 posts
11 reviews
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4. Re: Using the metro...

Not to worry---it's seriously easier to use than to explain. When you figure out where you need to go, look on the metro map to see what color the line is that stops there. Beyond color, the trains are identified by their end stop---that's what tells you which side of the platform you need to be on to catch the train going in your direction. And if you make a mistake and go the wrong direction, just get off at the next stop, walk across the platform and catch the train going back in the other direction. You won't have any problems, really. It's among the easier systems to use, in my opinion.

Pittsburgh...
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5. Re: Using the metro...

Some years ago I took my kids, about 13 and 16 at the time for a short trip. We stayed near the Dupont Circle station, and the first morning going down the escalator I informed them that they were responsible for figuring out the Metro. (Of course I would jump in if necessary but didn't tell them that). I told them where we were going, and asked that they pick out the routes, and fares. Within maybe a minute they had figured it out. From then on they planned every trip, without a mistake. One of the easiest systems in the world to use.

midwest
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405 posts
11 reviews
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6. Re: Using the metro...

I had to laugh when I read your post as I thought the exact same thing and was worried about using the Metro also. After you ride it and look over the color coded map, it is really easy to use and doesn't take very long to figure out. The previous poster was spot on when they said if you end up going the wrong way, just get off on the next stop and go back the other way, very easy! Just to be sure, when we were waiting for a train to arrive, I always asked someone next to me (who looked like a local) if the train was going to the destination I thought it was- they were always extremely helpful! On a side note, I did see you were staying in Arlington, which was where we also stayed. Depending upon where you are going, we found it much quicker to take the blue line to LeEnfante Plaza and then switch to the yellow as opposed to riding the blue line all the way around. I think those are the right colors but my main point is it is easier to switch trains and hop on another one to get there quicker. If you are riding later at night there may not be as many trains so it could be just as easy to stay on one train. I found that gettting off at one train and waiting for another was better than making so many starts/stops at all of the staions. I downloaded the train schedule to my phone and used it all of the time!! It may sound confusing (experts please help me out if I am wrong on anything) but once you get there, you will see what I mean. :)

San Jose, California
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for California
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7. Re: Using the metro...

"Not to worry---it's seriously easier to use than to explain"

"You won't have any problems, really. It's among the easier systems to use, in my opinion."

I completely agree. My first trip to DC was with my aunt and she was afraid to use the Metro, so we walked and took taxis. Then I went by myself and was amazed at how easy it is to use the Metro.

The ONLY issue that I occasionally have is when exiting the stations - there are usually at least 2 exits and some stations have more than that - and I occasionally get turned around and leave by the wrong exit - then have to walk around at street level to get where I am going. The exits are marked by street or area - such as 12th and F or Dupont Circle North. It is very clear, but for whatever reason, this confuses me sometimes and I get it wrong :-) But it is easily correctible.

Wellington, Florida
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8. Re: Using the metro...

We found some of the staff to be friendly and some not. All of the locals were friendly when we asked for help in directions. In hindsight I would have pre-ordered weekly passes. It would have been cheaper in the long run, as we had trouble with the machines. Some just ate our money and never added the value to the smart card. I was left struggling with trying to add value for one last trip back to the hotel, while my husband waited impatiently on the other side of the platform. Frustrated, people were also asking me to help them and I couldn't help myself. An official came out to help us and when I told him I only needed to add $3 for the ride home, he took my $10,00 bill, stuck it in the machine, swiped my card and said, "here". Great,, I just wasted another $7.00

Like you, we do not have much subway experience, and the Barcelona metro (our first subway ever) was so much easier and CHEAPER.

We were also entitled to senior 1/2 fares, but no one working the station ever wanted to help us with that.

Like everything else, it was easy until it wasn't. Never be without a map and know the Last destination of the line in order to know which side of the platform to stand on. We even got confused because the arrow to our destination was pointing in a contradiction of where we needed to actually be. It wasn't until a DUH moment, we realize it had very small print above the contrary arrow pointing to "accessable directions".

Washington DC...
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9. Re: Using the metro...

You can only get senior fares with a special smart trip card, and you must buy that at metro center station at a special office.

And it is confusing, but when adding value, use up or down keys to get to your desired dollar amount. Prepare to use a credit/debit card, pay with exact amount, or get two pounds of change back.

Washington DC...
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10. Re: Using the metro...

There is nothing the employees in the stations can do to get you the senior fare. You need to have a Senior SmarTrip card. And to get that you must go to a Metro Sales Office with proof of your age.