Airplane Modes

I haven’t been able to verify this, but I believe the Wright brothers invented the airplane expressly so the people of Washington could get the heck out of town in August. There’s just something about summer in our Southern swamp of a city that makes people want to jet off somewhere — anywhere — else.

But no matter where you’re flying, I can verify one thing: You don’t need a car to get to the airport. Even Dulles.

You might have forgotten that fact if you’ve been following the bitter back-and-forth over plans for a Dulles Metrorail station. But no matter what the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority ends up building, it’s not going to open for at least five years. In the meantime, if you want to get back and forth a few times yourself, you’d better focus instead on the public transit options that are already available.

That includes Metrobus 5A, which carries passengers from L’Enfant Plaza and Rosslyn to Dulles for $6 (still a bargain, although it was raised from only $3 last year). Or, for $10 each way, score a comfier ride on the Washington Flyer Coach Service that operates between West Falls Church and Dulles. Neither of those choices is as convenient as Metro will be, but they do the trick. Just ask the 187,143 folks who rode the Washington Flyer bus in 2010.

I know people who would never think to use BWI as an alternative airport, but they’re missing out on low-cost ground transportation choices (and some cheap AirTran fares). Not only can you take a MARC Penn Line train ($6) or Amtrak from Union Station, but you can also hop on Metrobus B30 from Greenbelt ($6). Don’t forget the new MTA ICC 201 bus to Shady Grove ($5).

And I’d bet that even though everyone knows it’s an easy Metro ride to Ronald Reagan Washington National, far fewer realize it’s possible to get there on a bike. The airport’s just off the Mount Vernon Trail, which means you can roll on in and lock up your bike at one of several free storage racks. Once, I even used the trail to walk to the airport from Old Town to meet friends when their plane landed. Admittedly, with luggage, a return trip didn’t seem like a wise idea.
But knowing your options always is.

Also on Express

Community Service: Local Troupes Offer Theater Alternatives During Summer