Transportation in Washington D.C.
DC is surprisingly large, but also surprisingly walkable. As the majority of the must-see attractions flank the Mall you can see the best of the city on foot. Downtown, the west and north are all navigable on foot but some neighbourhoods in the city's southeast are best avoided.
Washington has more than 6,000 cabs so hailing one is rarely a problem. Cabs in suburban Maryland and Virginia are metered, but since 1931 cab fares in DC have been zoned. This has advantages and disadvantages: you don't pay for time spent locked in traffic and you can go a surprisingly long way in one zone for the minimum charge. On the downside a short trip that crosses zone boundaries can be relatively expensive. There are additional peak hour, group and baggage charges.
Although driving conditions in town are generally fine, peak hour traffic in and out of DC can be intolerable. Inexperienced drivers may find the larger roundabouts, such as Dupont Circle, and the mishmash of crisscrossing streets tricky to navigate. Finding a place to park on the street is a lottery with draconian parking infringement regulations, and private and hotel parking is expensive. It's best to avoid driving if you can.
DC's extensive MetroBus network is largely designed to ferry commuters in and out of downtown. Use the local bus service for areas like Georgetown, where the nearest MetroRail station is in the next neighbourhood. There's a flat fare system for tickets as well as a cheap single day pass.
The Circulator provides additional bus service to areas of town likely frequented by business and leisure travellers, and to neighbourhoods not well served by Metrorail or Metrobus. There's a flat fare for tickets as well as a cheap single day pass.
Rent your car
Washington DC is looped by the Capital Belway, which connects with several interstates, highways and freeways into the city. Most neighbourhoods are laid out on a grid system with avenues leading diagonally across them. It's a good idea to take a GPS or good road map and avoid peak-time congestion.
Fares on the Metrobus demand exact change. Fares on the MetroRail depend on the number of stops you travel. There's a minimum and maximum charge, and prices are higher at peak times in the morning and afternoon and after 2am on days when the MetroRail operates that late. Most suburban MetroRail stations have adjoining fee-paying car parks.