Tips For Tourists: Navigating the Metro system


(Susan Biddle – For The Washington Post)

Yet again, the D.C. area is experiencing an influx of tourists. Sure, temperatures haven’t been terribly spring-like lately, but some signs of spring have arrived: The Nationals are back in town, the National Cherry Blossom Festival continues, and many, many families loaded with children on spring break have arrived in the area.

These visitors are presumably not familiar with the Metro system, so we’ve again gathered a list of tips and suggestions that out-of-towners need to know. Our suggestions, and those we have received from readers, are merely meant to help visitors learn more about getting around. Feel free to share any other recommendations in the comments below.

Stand On The Right

This is perhaps the Golden Rule of riding the Metro: When you’re on the escalators, stand on the right and walk on the left. So if you decide you don’t feel like walking, move to the right. Do not stand on the left side of the escalators.

Don’t Stop Moving

We understand that to someone new to the Metro system, it can be confusing, which makes you want to stop walking while you figure out where to go next. Resist that urge. If you step off an escalator, walk out of a train or go through a faregate, and come to a complete stop, that impacts the people behind you. (Particularly when these people are on a moving escalator or trying to get off a train.)

When you need to get your bearings, just step off to the side.

Fares and Farecards

It’s best to figure out your fare before entering the system, so that you know how much money you need on farecards. (Remember, if you use a paper farecard, add $1 to every trip.) Station maps tell you how much it will cost to go to any other stop in the system, which varies depending on the time of day. And have your farecard in your hand when you’re going through the gates to enter or exit the system, so that you aren’t That Person digging through your wallet at the turnstile while a large crowd gathers behind you.

Don’t Block The Doors, Do Let Riders Off First

If you’re waiting to board a train, let riders get off before you get on. And if you are on a train and aren’t about to get off, don’t lurk around the doors. Move to the center of the train to clear out some space so that people can get on or off the train.

Prepare for Delays

Yeah, there will be unplanned delays. And they will occur at the most inopportune time, like when you have to get somewhere, and you’re already running late, and one of the kids just wouldn’t put on their shoes. So be prepared for that.

No Food Or Drink

This one is self-explanatory. No open food or drink allowed on the Metro system.

For more tips, head here. And for any locals reading this: please be nice to the tourists.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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Robert Thomson | March 29, 2013