When many travelers come to Washington DC, they’ll often include a trip to Arlington, Virginia. For instance, they might want to see Arlington National Cemetery and the US Marine Corps War Memorial. Of course, there is also the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial at the Pentagon. But Alexandria, Virginia shouldn’t be overlooked as a side trip from the nation’s capital. What’s more, it should be thought as an extended vacation destination. The following are public transportation options between the nation’s capital and Alexandria. If you need more convincing, Alexandria is consistently known as one of the best small cities in America.
Alexandria Virginia Public Transportation Tips
There are several ways for you to get to Alexandria from Washington D.C. Indeed, the easiest way is with the Metrorail system. In the first place, this is the same Metrorail that operates in the nation’s capital. Secondly, it’s among the most affordable aways to get around the Greater D.C. area. A segment of D.C.’s Metro, it operates six color-coded rail lines. Of those six, the Blue and Yellow lines offers efficient public transportation service to Alexandria. In fact, there are four local stations including the King St.-Old Town station, in the heart of Old Alexandria.
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Metrorail Summer Shuttle Service
To meet the transportation demands, a free shuttle service is available to and from the Crystal City station via the Blue Line or Yellow Line Shuttles. According to DC Metro, shuttle buses run every five minutes during the rush hours. It further operates every 10 minutes during the midday hours. The exception is that the Blue Shuttle runs every 10-12 minutes during the midday hours.
Update: Summer shuttles are running to serve stations that are affected by an improvement project. However, neither station in Alexandria is affected. As a result, this current shuttle service no longer serves Alexandria. On the other hand, plenty of trains operate on the Yellow line between D.C. and Alexandria
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Peak SmarTrip fares on Metrorail are $2.25 minimum and $6 maximum and $2 minimum and $3.85 maximum during off peak hours. Peak hours are from when service begins until 9:30 am and between 3 pm and 6 pm. Fares and SmarTrip cards may be purchased at vending machines at Metrorail stations and online, as well as at Metro sales offices, commuter stores and retail outlets.
For more information on fares, timetables and routes, please visit the Metrorail website. For travel options for both Metrorail and Metrobus during the Platform Improvement Project, visit the Alternative Travel Options website or the Visit Alexandria website. Online information may be subject to change.
If you have little or no experience using a public bus transportation service, Metro Bus may not be a viable option. Moreover, there is no direct public bus service between Alexandria and Washington DC. The closest connection would be between Alexandria and Pentagon City on routes 10A or 10E and 10N for evening service, in addition to bus service to the Rosslyn Metro station via route 10E. Be that as it may, it isn’t really necessary to take the bus. That is, unless you need to go someplace but served by Metrorail.
From Pentagon City, you can connect with either the Blue or Yellow Metrorail lines. Correspondingly, at the Rosslyn station, you can take either the Blue or Orange Lines. Basic fare for Metrobus is $2 using a SmarTrip card or cash and express bus fare is $4.25. For older adults and people with disabilities, the basic fare is $1 and $2.10 for express bus service. Children ages five and older must pay the regular basic fare and to two children ages four and under may ride free with each adult paying the full fare.
Use SmarTrip Card or the New SmarTrip App.
Because bus operators do not carry money, you should use a SmarTrip card or the app. The card allows to load money with a credit card. After that, you just scan your card as you pass through a turnstile. Similarly, you can use the SmarTrip app to load fare and scan as you pass through. If for some reason you need to pay cash, you must have the exact change.
Please visit the Metrobus website for up to date information on fares and passes.
Virginia Railway Express
The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) is a commuter railway service that can transport passengers from Alexandria to L’Enfant Plaza and Union Station in Washington DC. The Railway Express operates two rail lines, the Fredericksburg Line and Manassas Line. Because it is a commuter service, departures are more concentrated during the morning and evening commutes while midday service is very limited. However point to point Alexandria transportation service tends to be very quick, taking about 30 minutes or less in either direction.
Virginia Railway Express Fare
Fares are determined through zones, with a single ride fare of $6,25 in Zone 2 between Alexandria and Crystal City and Zone 2 day passes are $12.50. Transportation out of Zone 2 will require additional fare. Reduced fare is available for older adults 65 years and older, youths ages 11 and 18 and people with disabilities. Children 10 and under may ride free with a fare paying adult. VRE tickets may be purchased via an online order form, at station vending machines, sales outlets and via the VRA Mobile app for iOS and Android users. Additional fare information can be found on the VRE website.
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The Potomac Riverboat Company operates a convenient water taxi service along the Potomac River. In fact, connects the Alexandria City Marina to the District Wharf in the Southwest Waterfront section of Washington DC, as well as to Georgetown. Visitors can take the Wharf Water Taxi to either DC location and adult fare is from $10, older adults $9 and children ages 2-11 from $7. Tickets for the date(s) of travel may be purchased online. According to the Potomac Riverboat Company, it takes 30 minutes in either direction between Alexandria and Georgetown. The company also offers sightseeing cruises, including a Monuments Tour and a Mount Vernon Cruise from Alexandria to George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
The Potomac Riverboat Company is no longer in service as a water taxi. However, there is a new company in its place. That new service is operated by cityexperiences by Hornblower. Please visit the website for cityexperiences by Hornblower for information on the Washington D.C. area.
Metroway is a premium bus service operated by DC Metro. With express service between Pentagon City and the Braddock Street Metrorail station in Alexandria, Virginia. Metroway is used primarily by commuters who need to travel to and from the Pentagon. However, Metroway can be a nice options, particularly for those desiring public transportation service from the Old Town section of Alexandria, the Pentagon and on to Washington DC. Another Metroway route operates between Crystal City and Potomac Yard, just north of Alexandria, Virginia.
The Braddock to Pentagon City routes runs every 12 minutes during peak and off-peak hours and every 15 minutes in the evening off-peak hours. Fare is $1.75 using a SmarTrip card and .85 for older adults and people with disabilities.
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About The Author
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including CBS New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. During his peak years, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com. He is a Media Fellow of Stanford University, U.S. Army veteran and lifelong resident of Santa Cruz County, California.