Variety of options available for getting to and from Washington area airports

August 25, 2012

Travelers departing from the region have three choices when it comes to flying: Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport, both in Northern Virginia, and Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport in Baltimore.

What’s the most cost-effective way of getting to your plane on time?

National

If you arrive at Reagan National and live in the District, a cab ride home could cost from $15 to $25, depending on where you are going.

Metro’s Blue and Yellow lines will take you to and from the airport. Air travelers should be aware of the new Rush Plus service, which puts more trains on the Yellow Line and fewer on the Blue Line during rush hours. Riders who start their trip at the Greenbelt station can take a Yellow Line train straight to National. (The Yellow Line runs from Greenbelt during Rush Plus. At other times, riders will need to take the Green Line and transfer to the Yellow Line at Fort Totten, or the Blue or Yellow Line at L’Enfant Plaza.)

Fares vary depending on boarding time and location, but using a paper Farecard instead of a SmarTrip card will cost you an additional $1 per trip.

●Parking: Parking is limited, so if you are driving, airport officials encourage you to check the parking availability online. The airport has fewer than 9,000 parking spots. Of those, 2,421 are in the economy lot, served by airport shuttles to the terminals, and cost $12 a day. The daily garages have about 5,700 parking spots and are a short walk from the terminal. The rate there is $20 a day. Hourly parking has 741 spots. It will cost you $2 per half-hour for the first two hours, or up to $36 a day.

●Shuttles: SuperShuttle is your shared-ride option at National. The door-to-door service costs $14 if you live in the District or some parts of Virginia. The fare doubles for many areas in Maryland.

Dulles

In its 50th year — and having marked its 500 millionth passenger this year — Dulles is the busiest of the region’s airports. With 23.2 million air travelers annually, demand for ground transportation is increasing, airport authorities said.

In response, Fairfax County started a new bus route to the airport in June. The line is a precursor to the opening of the Silver Line, which is under construction and will provide the region with a rail link to Dulles.

Until the Dulles rail project is completed, here are some of your transportation options to and from the airport:

●Bus: Take Metrobus 5A from the L’Enfant Plaza station or the Rosslyn Metrorail stop for $6, using a SmarTrip card or cash. The bus also stops at the Tysons-Westpark Transit Station and the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride lot. It runs about every 40 minutes.

Fairfax residents can take Route 981, the new Fairfax Connector express line that departs from the Tysons-Westpark Transit Station and stops at the Reston Town Center Transit Station and the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride. Base fare is $5.35.

For $10 one way or $18 round trip, Washington Flyer takes you nonstop from the West Falls Church Metro station to Dulles. It runs about every 30 minutes.

These buses run from just before sunrise to about midnight. Weekend and holiday schedules differ.

●Shuttles: The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is planning to expand its shared-ride services at Dulles within the next two months. Until then, your only option is SuperShuttle. The service is $22 from McLean and $29 from D.C. locations.

●Parking:

The airport has 27,000 parking spots. The economy parking lot is open 24 hours and costs $10 per day.

BWI

Last year, BWI set a record with 22.4 million passengers, up 2.1 percent from 2010.

Even though it’s farther away for travelers in the Washington region, there are a variety of options for getting there.

●Train: The MARC commuter train takes you to BWI from Union Station for $6. It also stops at New Carrollton, Seabrook, Bowie State and Odenton. MARC, however, offers only weekday service, between 5:50 a.m. and about 10:30 p.m. northbound.

Amtrak stops at BWI, with daily service from Union Station and New Carrollton. This trip is pricier, starting at $14, depending on when you book.

●Bus: For $6, catch Metro’s B30 express line at the Greenbelt Metrorail station, where you can leave your car at the long-term parking. The bus starts running about 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday and at 8:45 a.m. on Sunday northbound. Trips from BWI to Greenbelt start about an hour later. Metro officials say that there typically is increased service or larger buses during the holidays.

Montgomery County residents can take the ICC 201 bus line, which started service last year from Gaithersburg to BWI. The daily commuter bus runs about every hour from 4 a.m. to midnight; it departs from the Gaithersburg Park and Ride and stops at the Shady Grove Metro station and the Georgia Avenue Park and Ride. The fare is $5 one way.

●Shuttles: BWI users can choose from several shared-ride services, including SuperShuttle, the Airport Shuttle and BayRunner Shuttle. Rates range from $37 from the District to $51 from some places in Virginia. (For comparison, a taxi ride from BWI to downtown Washington can cost you about $90.)

●Parking: BWI has close to 30,000 parking spaces. The rate at the long-term parking lots is $8 per day.

Luz Lazo writes about transportation and development. She has recently written about the challenges of bus commuting, Metro’s dark stations, and the impact of sequestration on air travel.
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