Prefrosh Preview: Transportation in D.C. and how to get around the city
For the five-hundredth time, cars are not allowed in Georgetown under any circumstance.
But, don’t let this sad realization discourage you from exploring the amazing city you have at your fingertips! Once you have an idea of what you want to do, there are numerous ways to plan your trip so you can travel efficiently and safely in D.C.
One of the most efficient ways to travel around the city is by public transportation, specifically by the MetroRail system. Unfortunately, Georgetown itself doesn’t have a Metro station. DC Transit authority recently released plans to change this, though not til 2040, so don’t get too excited. However, the Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom stations are within walking distance from campus, assuming the weather is nice. Students can also take busses to get to the stations.
The MetroRail has numerous stations that are within walking distance of all museums, monuments, restaurants, and neighborhoods of D.C. It is generally safe, but you should obviously be smart and travel with a group, especially during nighttime hours. Being flashed or offered drugs happens more than you might think. Fares are reasonable, but vary depending on your final destination. Vox recommends purchasing a reusable SmarTrip farecard, which will save both time and money if you plan on traveling around D.C. often.
On weekdays, the MetroRail operates from 5:30 am to midnight, and on weekends from 7 am to 3 am. Also, the trains generally arrive every 6 to 12 minutes, making it easy to plan your outing.
Alongside the MetroRail system is the MetroBus. The MetroBus is D.C.’s regional bus service that connects to all MetroRail systems as well as other local bus systems around the city.
Another bus system, the D.C. Circulator, is also a convenient form of transportation. The Circulator provides inexpensive, frequent service around the National Mall, between Union Station and Georgetown, and between the Convention Center and the National Mall.
When the weather’s agreeable, Vox recommends walking or biking around Georgetown and D.C., simply because it’s too beautiful to resist. If you don’t have your own bike, Capital Bikeshare provides a great service to D.C. residents and tourists by providing affordable bikes for rental. Capital Bikeshare provides more than 1,800 bikes at over 200 stations across D.C., Arlington, VA, and Alexandria VA. You can pick up a bike at any of the locations and return it to any other station near your final destination. You can join Capital Bikeshare just for a day, or anywhere up to a year. The first 30 minutes of each trip are free and additional minutes will be for a reasonable price.
If you need to travel a longer distance, the Zipcar service is available for students who want to rent a car. Zipcar provides self-service cars by the hour or the day for personal and business needs. The low rates include gas, insurance, maintenance, and parking. There’s also a student half-price membership that Georgetown students can use.
In addition to the transportation the District provides, Georgetown provides the convenient GUTS Bus system for students and faculty. The Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle takes students on five routes, connecting the campus to the Georgetown University Law Center on Capitol Hill, to University offices on Wisconsin Avenue, to Metro stations at Rosslyn and Dupont Circle, and to stops in North Arlington, VA.
Only individuals with a valid Georgetown I.D. can use the GUTS bus system, so it provides a safe way to travel around the Georgetown area and Metro stations. GUTS buses operate between 5 a.m. and 12 midnight, and also between 10 pm and 3 am for GUTS late night shuttle loops around Burleith, West Georgetown, M Street, Dupont Circle, and Adams Morgan.
If worst comes to worst and you’re stuck out in Adams Morgan or Dupont Circle late at night alone, take a taxi. While expensive, taxis are readily available in D.C. and always provide a safe option for travel. But if you’re from New York City or any other city that has a decent cab system, prepare yourself for the multi-colored cab cars that do not take credit cards. These cabs are notorious: there is even a website called D.C. cabs suck. Vox recommends getting one of the many taxi cab apps for your iPhones or Android phones, as it makes getting a cab even easier.
Photo: Matt Peoples via Flickr