We knew before we got to DC that we wanted to use the metro to get around. I’d been before and chose our hotel for its proximity to a metro station – if you go to DC, I’d suggest you take how you’re going to get places into consideration when arranging your accommodations.
The metro isn’t the only way to get around: there are uber, lyft and other ride sharing options, there are electric scooters and bikes available for rent, you could also rent a car or walk.
Here’s why we choose to ride the metro (spoiler: it was the cheapest option for what we wanted to do) and the cost breakdown for it.
We needed to be able to get around town for three full days. While we were there for 5 days, Day 1 and Day 5 were travel days which didn’t afford time to site see.
The metro has 3 options for travel: a 7 day unlimited ride pass, a 3 day unlimited ride pass (for $28), or a pay-as-you-go option (rides are about $2/a ride per person, one direction). For all 3 options you need to pay an additional $2 for a card – if you already have a card or someone is nice and gives you theirs as you pass them in the airport then you don’t need to pay this fee and can put one of the three travel options onto your card.
Since we were only going to need 3 days of travel accommodations I didn’t note the 7-day unlimited card- sorry!!
However, this is was our math. We figured we would ride the metro at least 6 times Day 2 and Day 3 since we’d go to and from the gym/hotel twice and out to explore and back to the hotel at lead once. That is 12 rides at $2 or at least $24 worth of rides. We also know on Day 4 we would ride it at least 4 times to go to and from church and out to explore ans back to the hotel once. At 4 rides at $2 a ride that added $8 to the minimum $24 worth of rides from Day 2 and Day 3…
If you stuck with me through that math, we knew at a minimum we’d need $32 worth of rides and if we decided we wanted to go a few other places or take the metro between rides that number would only grow.
Armed with that math, it made sense to pay $28 for 3 days of unlimited rides with anything over that $28 essentially being a free ride. I can also tell you that this was the right choice for us since we ended up using about $50 worth of metro rides each.
However, if we would only have been riding the metro from the hotel to the national mall and then from the mall to the hotel (or just 2 rides each day) it would have made more sense to pay-per-ride OR if we had a large group with us to ride share to our destinations rather then take the metro.
It ultimately is about the math – and since I despise math you know it really is the case. Figure out roughly / at a minimum how many times you think you’d ride and figure out the cost from there. We did, and I’m glad for it since we dodged having to pay $44 extra for pay-per-rides by doing the unlimited pass… plus taking pics in the last empty car was pretty fun to!