Written by Sarah Markley – Program Advisor, IPVS
It’s week two of your TFAS summer, and I’m sure by now you’ve all mastered the morning commute. The DC metro is one of the best options for getting around the city, especially since it’s so close to GW’s campus. It can be daunting at first to use public transportation, but once you get the hang of it your life becomes so much easier. Even if you’re an experienced rider, using the metro can still be tricky at times – so I’ve put together a few tips to help you always look like a DC pro!
Get the App
Having the right app makes all the difference. An all around favorite is DC Rider, which offers an easily accessible metro map as well as a trip planner. You can also set your commuting route, and the app will show the next train from your home and work stations. There are updated times for trains arriving at all stations in the city, so you’ll never be left wondering how long you have to wait. Every second counts when you’re getting ready in the morning, don’t let the metro cause you to be late to your internship. This way you’ll always know if you have time for a Starbucks stop, and you won’t be that panicked person sprinting down the escalator!
Register your Card
On the WMATA website, you can register your SmarTrip card with your personal details. This allows you to reload it from home, and you can also recover the balance if the card is lost or stolen. It’s a great safety net so you can have peace of mind even if you go through a few cards this summer.
Make sure you’re aware of all closures and delays that might affect your commute. You’re living in DC during the SafeTrack era, which means segments of the metro have been shut down periodically over the past year. Check the WMATA website to see which stations will be closed this summer, and follow them on Twitter for updates about accidents and other daily inconveniences. Better yet, visit ismetroonfire.com for a laugh and the latest smoke detection.
Walk with a Purpose
There’s nothing locals hate more than someone who stands on the left side of the escalator. Make sure you follow the crowd and stand on the right, and have your card ready to scan at the gates. Also try to avoid being stuck in the doors of the train, it’s always best to wait for the next one instead of jumping in as the doors close. Trust me, it’s better for your safety as well as your pride.
Keep a Sense of Humor
Remember that this is the metro, and it definitely will not always run smoothly. Delays and maintenance are a part of life, so don’t let it get you down if your train is behind schedule. Like the rest of the 9 to 5 crowd, you can just roll your eyes and turn up your music. You’ll even get comfortable enough to joke about the areas surrounding different stops, like the creator of this map.
You’re off to a great start in DC, and soon you’ll barely have to consult the map before hopping on a train. Your new confidence will make tourists ask you for directions! By the end of the summer, the city will feel like home and you’ll miss even the imperfect parts (like the metro) when you leave. So keep these tips in mind, and happy riding!