If you’re visiting Washington this weekend for the March for our Lives, the Cherry Blossom Festival or any of the other attractions in town, you couldn’t be in a better place.
(Check out our full March for Our Lives coverage for everything you need to know, including tips on how to get around, a map of the restricted areas, Metro and bus operations and more tips.)
We have gathered a list of tips and suggestions that out-of-towners, new transplants and even locals who rarely take Metro, need to know. If you have any other suggestions, add them in the comments.
Stand on the right. The single most important rule for the Metro system involves the escalators. If you want to stand while riding, stay to the right; if you want to walk, stay to the left. Regular riders will give you a sour look if you run afoul of this basic guideline.
Fares and farecards. The easiest way to pay fares in the Metrorail and Metrobus systems is with a SmarTrip card. The cards also can be used on our regional bus systems. Our advice: get one as soon as you get to town and before you enter the system — and make sure you have enough fare for the entire trip. The re-loadable farecards cost $2 and are available at every Metro station and many convenient retail locations across the Washington region, including CVS, Walmart and Giant. Having a loaded farecard in advance will save you from the long lines at fare machines during your visit. If you are using Metrobus, the fare is $2 per ride. You can calculate your Metro fare by using this Trip Planner. Metrobuses also take exact fares in cash.
Don’t block the doors. If you are waiting to board a train, don’t stand in front of the train doors. Let passengers exit the train before you board. Once you’re on the train, move to the center of the car — away from the doors — so other passengers can easily enter and exit. And do not, we repeat, do not take up more than one seat. Your bags and luggage don’t get a seat. If your belongings won’t fit on your lap, put them on the floor — out of the way of other passengers.
Careful with the Metro doors. Don’t try to hold the doors open. Trust us on this one, they will close on you. Rail car doors don’t operate like elevator doors and will not bounce back. By trying to hold or force them open, you can create a door problem that ends up putting the train out of service. If you are traveling with family, stick close together and board as quickly as possible to avoid leaving anyone behind. If for some reason a child or anyone in your group is left behind, Metro’s advice is to go to the next station and see the station manager, and they will help you get reunited. It happens and they are used to dealing with it.
Keep walking. When you get to the end of the escalator platform, keep walking. We know you need to read directions, or figure out where you’re going, but find a safe place away from the escalators to do it. Lots of riders may be rushing down the escalators to catch a train.
Keep your eyes off your cellphone and watch where you’re going. This one is for all of us. Distracted walking is a leading cause of accidents in the Metro system. Those incidents include getting caught in train doors and falling down the escalator or while on the trains or in stations. Metro’s reports on injuries suggest that the most frequent type of injury in the rail system results from slips, trips and falls of people walking and riding on the escalators while looking at cellphones. Don’t do it — plus it slows everyone down.
Prepare for crowds and delays. The March For Our Lives is expected to draw thousands of people to downtown. Organizers have secured a permit to gather 500,000 people along Pennsylvania Avenue NW. And the Cherry Blossom Festival draws thousands more to the city. So be prepared for long lines at the fare machines, full trains and the possibility of intermittent delays. Be patient and be considerate.
No food or drink. Eating and drinking is prohibited on Metro’s trains and buses and in the stations. Metro Transit Police can issue citations to enforce the law. Plus, it’s just rude. Help keep the system clean.
Now if you are going to the March for Our Lives, here is a useful map indicating road closures and the area where protesters will be rallying from noon to 3 p.m.
While you are planning your trip, keep in mind that Metro opens at 7 a.m. Saturday. The rally access points will be at the following locations: Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th Street NW, Constitution Avenue and Seventh Street NW, and Indiana Avenue and Seventh Street NW.
Plan your trip so that you don’t have to transfer to another line. There is a station near the rally on each of Metro’s six rail lines. The closest station to the stage is Archives. But you can also use Metro Center (Red, Orange, Silver and Blue lines), Gallery Place (Red, Yellow and Green Lines), and Union Station (Red Line).
The District is a walkable city. Consider avoiding crowded stations and train by walking to Pennsylvania Avenue. Also keep the weather in mind and dress warmly if you plan to stay outside for hours.