Metro is operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to connect DC and its suburbs in Virginia and Maryland. Many stations throughout Washington DC are located close to important federal buildings and tourist attractions, such as the White House, U.S. Capitol, Ronald Reagan Airport. etc.
Metro has 91 stations with six color coded lines: Red, Orange, Silver, Blue, Green, and Yellow. These colors are found throughout the system on pylons at the entrances, on train destination signs, and on platform route signs. Metro stations are identified by tall brown pylons with a large "M" at the top. The name of the station is written in white letters running sideways up the pylon. Beneath the "M", there is a color stripe (or a combination of color stripes) indicating which Metro lines serve the station.
In addition to its modern design with arched concrete panel ceilings, indirect lighting, and wide tiled platforms, Metro is fully air-conditioned on both trains and stations. Also, the Metro System has an extensive camera network that monitors the inside of Metro stations. The cameras are monitored by station managers in kiosks within the stations. Metro Transit Police officers have access to the camera feeds. As a result, crime inside Metro stations is extremely rare and graffiti is non-existent.
All Metro stations are handicapped accessible and provide turnstiles (known as faregates) for wheelchair users and elevators leading to the train platform. For people who cannot use public transportation due to a disability, MetroAccess provides a shared-ride, door-to-door, paratransit service.
Most underground Metro stations have escalators leading to the station mezzanines. The escalators descend into short, curved tunnels which open directly onto the station entrance which sits above the tracks. At the station entrance, there are vending machines, where Metro farecards can be purchased.
After entering the Metro station through the faregates, another set of escalators lead to the train platform. There are around 600 escalators serving the Metro System. One of the world's longest escalators can be found at the Wheaton Metro Station.
The Metro System provides a free Metro Pocket Guide, which includes a Metro Map and essential information for Metro riders. To get a free copy, simply ask the station manager when entering the Metro station.
There are three types of farecards: Metro farecards, Metro passes, and a SmarTrip card.
Paper Farecard: This farecard can be used multiple times on multiple days until the value of the farecard reaches zero. It can be purchased and recharged at dispensing machines located in all Metro stations. If you use a paper farecard, you will pay a surcharge for each trip. There is a $1 fare surcharge for each trip taken; that's $2 for a roundtrip. There is 50¢ fare surcharge for seniors and people with disabilities. To avoid this additional cost, use a SmarTrip® card.
SmarTrip® Card: A rechargeable, plastic farecard that can be used to pay fares and transfers on the DC Circulator, Metrobus, Metro, and Metro parking. The card can be purchase at SmarTrip® vending machines in Metro stations where parking is available.
Metro Pass: If you are traveling to Washington DC for a few days and plan to use the Metro to move around the city, buying a One-Day Pass, a 7-Day Short Trip Pass, or a 7-Day Fast Pass may be a cost effective solution because it provides unlimited Metro travel.
How to Use a Metro Farecard
Step 1: Insert your farecard or pass into the faregate with the green light and white arrow. The Metro farecard will be sucked into the faregate and ejected on the top. If you are using a handicapped faregate, the farecard will be returned from the same slot where you put it in.
Step 2: Grab your Metro farecard and go through. Keep your farecard because you will need it to exit the Metro station at your final destination. If you are using a SmarTrip® Card, simply touch the SmarTrip card to the circular targets on top or inside the faregate.
Step 3: When exiting the Metro station, insert the farecard into the faregate again. The cost of the trip will be deducted from the farecard. If you have a remaining value, the farecard will be returned. The remaining value will be printed on the card. Metro farecards with no remaining value are kept by the faregate.
If your Metro farecard does not have enough money, the system won't let you exit. You will need to add money at the vending machine of the exiting Metro station.
Metro fares are based on the distance traveled and time of day. Fares are higher during peak/rush hour. Also, if you use a paper farecard, you will pay a $1 surcharge for each trip; that's $2 for a roundtrip. The subcharge is 50-cents for seniors and people with disabilities. To avoid this additional cost, use a SmarTrip® card.
Peak SmarTrip® Fares
This type of fare is in effect Monday-Friday (Opening to 9:30 a.m. and 3-7 p.m.) and Weekends (Midnight to Closing)
$2.15 minimum + a $1 surcharge if a paper farecard is used
$5.90 maximum + a $1 surcharge if a paper farecard is used
Off-Peak fare (All other times)
$1.75 minimum + a $1 surcharge if a paper farecard is used
$3.60 maximum + a $1 surcharge if a paper farecard is used
Metro Senior/Disabled Fare
Half of the Peak Fare: Senior citizens 65 and older, people with disabilities, and customers with a Medicare card and valid photo ID ride for half the peak fare with a reduced fare SmarTrip® Card or paper farecard.
Children Under 5
Up to two children, 4 years and younger, may ride the Metro free with each adult paying full fare. Children five and older pay adult fares. Special discounted student farecards and passes are available for District of Columbia residents.
Metro uses a paperless transfer system. To receive a transfer, a SmarTrip® Card must be used when paying the Metro fare. Passengers using cash do not get a discount when transferring and must pay the full fare when transferring from Metro to Metrobus or DC Circulator.
Metro to DC Circulator - $0.50
Metro to Metrobus - $0.50 discount of the Metrobus fare
Metrobus/Circulator to Metro - $0.50 discount of the Metro fare
Bus passengers transferring to Metro receive a bus-to-Metro discount when using a SmarTrip® Card. The discount reduces the Metro fare by $0.50 cents.
The Metro System has six operating lines. There are 40 Metro stations in Washington DC, 26 stations in Maryland, and 20 Metro stations in Virginia.
Glenmont - Shady Grove
New Carrollton - Vienna/Fairfax-GMU
Wiehle-Reston East - Largo Town Center
Franconia-Springfield - Largo Town Center
Branch Avenue - Greenbelt
Huntington - Fort Totten
Metro Pocket Guide