TAXIS

How do you know a taxi is available in Washington, D.C.?

He stops for you. Unlike New York, few of the cabs have lights on the roof telling you whether or not they're available.  Some D.C. cabs flip down "On Call" signs from their sunvisors, but sometimes that's just to excuse them from picking up shady-looking passengers.

How much is a taxicab in Washington, D.C.?

The initial fee is currently $3.25 and is about $2.16 per mile afterwards.  The wait charge, when the taxi is traveling slower than a certain speed, e.g. red light, stop signs, traffic, is $25 per hour.  There are additional fees from certain locations; for example, trips from Reagan International Airport incurs additional $2.00.  For fare estimates, try an online calculator such as Washington DC Taxi Fare Calculator.

Where's the best place to catch a cab?

It is easier to hail a cab in front of a nice hotel.  Otherwise, you can find them anywhere downtown.  In the evenings, you might have to head to one of the busier streets to find one, as they tend not to scour the neighborhoods for fares.

How do you signal you're looking for a ride?

Just wave your hand when you see one - even if they're headed in the opposite direction, they'll make an illegal U-turn if you look like you can pay the fare.

DC's cabs formerly used a zone system, but have now changed to using the normal time/distance-based fares. Note that there will be surcharges for extra suitcases, additional passengers, during snow emergencies, rush hour trips and fuel during times of high gas prices.

 

RENTAL CARS

Visitors will probably find that having a rental car in D.C. is more trouble than it’s worth. Traffic in and around the city is heavy and frustrating, especially during rush hour. Most attractions around the Mall do not have convenient parking, and metered parking is limited.  In addition, metered parking is monitered very closely in DC, and all rules posted on the meter and signs are enforced.  Since there are usually multiple rules for a spot, the signs can be very confusing.  For example, "2 hr parking from 7:30 - 3:30 and from 6:30 to 9:30" means you can only stay there 2 hours; not come back and pay the meter for 2 more.  You must move the vehicle to another spot. It also means that if you are there from 3:30 to 6:30, your vehicle may be towed, since this is a rush hour cooridor and at 3:30, you parking space becomes a lane of traffic.   Fines range from $25 to $50 depending on the offense.

Garage parking is expensive and not particularly close to sightseeing. The extensive Metro system has stations within walking distance to all of the major attractions, such as the museums and government buildings, as well as to the suburbs in Maryland and Virginia within the Capital Beltway, so tourists and business travelers should have no need for a car.

However, those who prefer to get around by car will find a good selection of major rental companies located at each of the three area airports:  Reagan Washington National Airport, Baltimore/Washington International Airport and Dulles International Airport.

A rental car can help if you're planning to visit Baltimore or the more historical areas of Virginia because these areas are not widely served by Metro. 

If you need a car for a longer time, consider Zipcar, where you can rent a car or truck by the hour - locations are scattered throughout the city, and insurance and gas is included. However, the initial registration process and expense involved with Zipcar makes these programs more practical for those staying for extended periods.. 

 

Off-Site Links:

WMATA

Metro Guide

Zipcar