A guide to suburban transit options

September 1, 2012

When we discuss commuting in these pages, it often feels as if we focus on two options: Metro and driving. But depending on where and when you’re traveling, there are other options available outside the District. Here’s a look at some other ways to get around the region:

MARYLAND
MARC

Maryland Area Regional Commuter trains, operated by the Maryland Transit Administration, has three lines. MARC is a popular option for commuters traveling from Maryland into the District, with more than 38,000 riders boarding the system on any given day. Brunswick Line trains also run to and from West Virginia. The MTA also operates a commuter bus system that serves more than 17,000 people each day. It’s probably a good idea to sign up for electronic alerts letting you know about any delays.

●Days/hours of operation: Weekdays only. The Penn Line, which runs between 4:30 a.m. and 11:29 p.m.; the Camden Line, which runs from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and the Brunswick Line, which operates from 4:50 a.m. to 9:35 p.m. Some trains operate primarily during rush hour.

●Fares: One-way tickets $4 to $11 (Penn Line) and from $4 to $14 (Camden and Brunswick lines). Trips to or from West Virginia cost extra. There are reduced fares and multi-ride discounts.

Web site: www.mta.maryland. gov.

Ride On

Montgomery County’s Ride On system started in 1975 with 20 buses running limited service. Now it has 77 routes snaking through the county on weekdays, with about 300 buses on the road.

●Days/hours of operation: Seven days a week, although roughly half of the routes don’t operate on weekends. The first bus heads out at 4:20 a.m., and the last trip is at 1:10 a.m., though most routes don’t run before 5 a.m. or after midnight.

●Fares: $1.80 with cash or $1.60 with SmarTrip. Discounted rates for seniors, children and people with disabilities.

Web site: www.rideonbus.com.

TheBus

The Prince George’s County system began operation in 1986 with two routes. Now it runs 27 routes with more than 90 buses on the road each day.

●Days/hours of operation: Weekdays only, from 5:18 a.m. until 8 p.m.

●Fares: $1; free for seniors, people with disabilities, University of Maryland students and faculty, and middle and high school students during some hours.

Web site: www.princegeorges ­countymd.gov/government/agencyindex/dpw&t/transit/
thebus.asp.

VIRGINIA
VRE

Virginia Railway Express runs two lines that carry about 19,000 commuters each day from Fredericksburg and Manassas to the District. VRE ser­vice began in the summer of 1992, with the Manassas Line starting first and the Fredericksburg Line following.

●Days/hours of operation: Weekdays only. Trains begin running at 5 a.m., and the last trains leave Washington’s Union Station at 6:40 p.m. (Fredericksburg Line) and 6:50 p.m. (Manassas Line).

●Fares: One-way tickets can cost between $3 and $10.65. Monthly passes are available and lower the cost.

Web site: www.vre.org.

ART

Arlington Transit buses began running in 1998 and now shuttle more than 2.5 million riders each year. There are 13 ART routes with 34 buses running at peak times.

The buses help riders get to and from Metro stations and provide additional access to neighborhoods.

●Days/hours of operation: Most routes run only on weekdays, although some routes have weekend service. Some buses begin service at 5:30 a.m. and run until 12:30 a.m. Other buses run more-limited schedules or operate only during peak periods.

●Fares: $1.50. Seniors, the disabled, and middle and high school students ride for 75 cents. Free with a MetroAccess ID.

Web site: www.arlington
transit.com.

Fairfax Connector

Connector service began in the southern part of Fairfax County in 1985, expanding to northern Fairfax in 1994 and the western end in 2009. There are 69 routes with as many as 188 vehicles on the road. More than 35,000 riders take this bus on any given weekday.

●Days/hours of operation: Some routes run weekdays only. Most routes typically start between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m., and service winds down between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.

●Fares: Range between $1.10 and $7.50, although that can depend on, say, whether you are transferring to another bus or to Metrorail. Discounts for seniors, children and people with disabilities.

Web site: www.fairfaxcounty. gov/connector.

DASH

Alexandria’s DASH system started service in 1984 with four routes and 17 buses. As with many suburban bus options, it was started with an eye toward bringing people to and from Metro stations and bus stops. Now, DASH has 10 routes and 73 buses in addition to the popular (and free) King Street Trolley, which connects the Old Town waterfront and the King Street Metro station.

●Days/hours of operation: Weekday service runs from about 5 a.m. until 12:30 a.m., while weekend service runs from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. The trolley runs every day from 11:30 a.m. to 10:15 p.m.

●Fares: $1.50. A monthly pass is $35 for unlimited rides. Free for age 4 and younger with an adult.

Web site: www.dashbus.com.

OmniRide

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission’s OmniRide buses travel from Manassas and elsewhere in Prince William County to Northern Virginia and the District. This bus service, which used to be called Commuteride until 1995, runs 11 routes and 84 buses on a given day. The PRTC also operates Metro Direct (connecting with nearby Metro stations) as well as local Omni­Link and Cross County Connector buses.

●Days/hours of operation: Buses run weekdays from about 4 a.m. until about 9 a.m. and again from 3 to 8 p.m., with some midday service for commuters during that window.

●Fares: A one-way trip to or from Northern Virginia or D.C. costs $7 cash or $5.25 with a SmarTrip card. Free for age five and younger with a paying adult.

Web site: www.prtc
transit.org/commuter-bus/
index.php.

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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