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$6 Now Gets Tourists From D.C. Airport To Downtown As New Metro Line Opens

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Beginning mid-November, tourists visiting Washington D.C. via Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) will have a new option to get into the City Center. Earlier this week, the Metro announced November 15th as the official opening date of the long-awaited Silver Line extension that will connect the city with Dulles Airport and beyond.

The sun sets over landmarks in Washington D.C.

The extension is the final phase of an expansion that began back in 2009 and will directly connect the airport, which is 26 miles away, with the D.C. Metro area, including top tourist destinations and hotels.

With over 600 flights arriving and departing each day, the new connection will benefit visitors to the D.C. area as well as those with extended layovers at Washington Dulles who want to escape the airport for some sightseeing in the nation’s capital during their wait.

Cars pass in front of the US Capitol building in Washington D.C.

How much will it cost?

Metrorail fares are based on both the length of the journey and the time of day. The Metro’s trip planner has not yet been updated to include the new stops, so the exact fares are not available yet. However, we do know that a trip to the nearest station during peak travel times is $6, which is the current maximum fare on the Metro system.

The same route on off-peak hours costs $2. All passengers over the age of 5 must use a SmarTrip card to pay their fare. These cards can be purchased online or at any Metro station.

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a D.C. Metro Smartravel card

How long will it take?

A Metro journey from Washington Dulles to the Smithsonian Metro stop in D.C. will take 56 minutes. While it might not save travelers much time (in some scenarios, it could even take longer), what the Metro option has to offer is predictability and reliability, as it runs on a regular schedule and travel times are not traffic-dependent.

During rush hour, the trains will come every 10 minutes and every 12 minutes during the day. During late-night service, the train will arrive every 15 minutes.

passengers wait for a train to arrive in Washington DC

Metro is in service seven days a week, but the operating times vary. During the week, the first train departs at 5 am, and on the weekends, it opens at 7 am. Service ends at midnight from Sunday – Thursday and at 1 am on Fridays and Saturdays.

How close is the station to the airport?

The Metro station is a 5-minute walk from the airport’s baggage claim area via an underground tunnel with moving sidewalks. The route to the station will be well marked with signs leading the way from the airport into the Metro.

dulles airport

What are the other options?

Currently, travelers making the journey between downtown and IAD on public transportation can take the 5a bus or the Silver Line to Wiehle-Reston station and then take a 10-minute shuttle to the airport. The duration of this journey is traffic dependent and can take up to 80 minutes, including a half-mile walk, and costs around $7.50 to get from the airport to the Smithsonian Metro station. These options will likely be discontinued once the silver line extension is open.

For those who prefer to drive, the trip takes anywhere between 30 – 90 minutes, depending on traffic. Prices for this vary quite a bit based on the time of day and mode of transportation. A taxi from the airport with Washington Flyer Taxi Service costs about $70, while an Uber or Lyft can cost anywhere from $50-$75. There are also options to hire a private car transfer service, but they can charge upwards of $200 for the journey.

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Is this a good option for a layover?

For passengers who have a layover at Washington Dulles Airport, the new silver line could provide an option to explore the city while they wait for their connecting flight.

While the journey into the city on the Metro is not quick, it is reliable, meaning that travelers can reliably plan for an hour’s journey from the airport to the city each way. If you have a long layover, it could be a great option to get out and explore the famous landmarks the city has to offer.

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