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How to pay for Metro?

Massachusetts, USA
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How to pay for Metro?

Planning a trip with the family 2 adults 2 kids during April vacation week. Coming in on Sunday til Thursday. Planning to stay in Alexandria hotel with shuttle to metro station. So my question is....what is the best way to pay for the metro? Buy tickets every ride? Trying to do this the most economical way. Also, if we get on at Huntington station is it a straight ride to DC stations? Never been to DC and so confused on how to get places.


Arlington, Virginia
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for Arlington
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1. Re: How to pay for Metro?

If you go to the Metro website, you can see all the various options for farecards, Smartcards, fare passes, etc. There's a lot of different options and it can be a bit overwhelming. If it helps any, you should expect to pay $3.70 each way from Huntington Station to almost anyplace in D.C. itself (if you travel during peak times) or $2.75 if you travel at off-peak times. (The Trip Planner feature on the Metro website can help with figuring out costs.)

For a 5 day visit, your best bets will be either a 7-day Short Trip Pass or a SmarTrip card, either of which can be purchased online before you arrive. Your worst choice would be a regular farecard which incurs a $1 surcharge on every trip you make.

Also, there are maps on the Metro website that will show you whether you have a "straight ride" to your destination or whether you will have to change to another line for your destination.

Finally, you might want to post your Metro questions on the D.C. forum. You'll probably get more responses there.


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2. Re: How to pay for Metro?


Just in case you don't realize it, the hotels near Huntington metro are not in the City of Alexandria. They are in Fairfax county.but call themselves Alexandria on a technicality. (See When is Alexandria not Alexandria in our top questions) They usually have cheaper rates but you will not be able to walk to Old Town and usually not want to walk anywhere around the hotel itself either at night. They usually have parking lots so you can drive to Old Town. Their shuttles to the Metro add some time and can be frustrating.

According to Metro's web site, that 7 day pass short trip pass will be nothing but a hassle for your group if you plan on using it before 9:30 am or after 3 pm. Why, because it is only good for up to $3.50 and then you each have to find an exitfare machine and put more money into it. Which is a pain and requires you to have dollar bills or change . It is good advice for those who stay in DC since the fares are lower staying in DC, but that's probably why you asked here. Just buy Smart Cards for each of your group. Here's the link to the pass and SmartTrip card pages


You can also buy them right at the station. The paper fare cards are a real rip off, charging you a dollar extra each trip. Plus the Smart Trip cards make a nice souvenir of DC.

Yes, for much of DC attractions, Huntington is a "straight shot" to the DC stations without having to change lines. For the Smithsonian Art museums you would get off at National Archives/Navy Memorial. L'enfant plaza is good for the American Indian museum and an easy walk across a nice promenande to the Mall and other Smithsonian museums.

Enjoy your visit.


Virginia Beach...
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3. Re: How to pay for Metro?

Tip--- whatever pass or card you end up with use $1, $5 and $10 dollar bills to pay. Example: If you put a $20 in for a $10 dollar card you will get 10$ Er's in COINS back.

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4. Re: How to pay for Metro?

Can I jump in with a few questions?

Can you buy the smart cards at the King St station? Will the machine take credit cards? I looked on the website and am going to buy the 7 day pass for $57.50 plus the $10 for the smart card. Will that be loaded instantly?

I'm coming Monday and don't have to work till Tuesday so I was planning on going straight in to park at the City Hall parking garage then go to the Metro station and purchase my ticket for the week. Then take the free trolley to the end and back to look around. Any problems with this?

How far is the Metro station from the city hall parking garage?


Alexandria, Virginia
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for Alexandria
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5. Re: How to pay for Metro?

HOSKI - There is a commuter store across from the Metro station on King street. As for your plan to park at city hall and walk to metro... I would advise to locate a metered or 'valid' parking space near the metro off of King, Prince or the blocks in between nearby, rather than park at City Hall, which is 3/4 of a mile (unless you want to walk, and shop along the way). You may alternatively, take the free Trolley shuttle but is limited in hours between 11:30am and 10pm.

Visit Alexandria guide and maps link here:


Link for the King St. Commuter Store is below:


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6. Re: How to pay for Metro?

Thank you for the help.

7. Re: How to pay for Metro?

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