staff of The Washington Post, reporters raced one weekday afternoon by car, taxi and subway from downtown to National Airport, as many people do for business trips each day.

Start: 3:30 p.m. from the Washington Post building at 15th and L Streets NW.

Finish: The gate for Eastern Airlines' New York and Boston shutt flights at National Airlines.

Car: 20 minutes

Taxi: 26 minutes.

Subway: 46 minutes! Car

As I always do when I drive to the airport from the office, I had asked the attendant at the garage across the street from The Post to keep my car handy. They did, so I was driving out onto L Street NW almost as soon as I got to the garage.

I turned south down 15th Street NW and encountered my first long traffic ligt down at Constitution Avenue. then I hurried past the Washington Monument and The Tidal Basin, crossed the 14th Street Bridge, and drove south on the George Washington Parkway to the exis for National Airport, where I ran into my first traffic tieup. In fact, it took almost as long to get from there to the Eastern Airlines shuttle gate as if had to drive from downtown to the Parkway.

It was slow going along the airport access road and traffic was snarled in the circle in front of the terminal. It was frustrating to have the terminal in sight and see the line of cars stalled in front of me.

Finally, I made it to the short term parking lot (cos:t $1.00 an hour, $10.00 for 24 hours), where I had to wait about a minute to get in. Still I made it from car to the Eastern shutle gate by 3:50.

Of course, travelers leaving for more than a day or wishing to pay much less than $10.00 for a day's parking would have had to stop at a lot further from the terminal, adding 5 to 10 minutes of walking time.

On the other hand, I could have made it even faster by parking at the special lot reserved for congressmen, diplomats and U.S. Supreme Court justices right next to the terminal entrance. It had plenty of empty spaces - and a guard to keep out ordinary taxpayers like me.