Public Transit – The Great Equalizer

Public Transit – The Great Equalizer

First and foremost the D.C. Metro is a commuter train designed to bring people in and out of D.C. and doesn’t go very far past important landmarks or heavily travelled routes. For all those other local destinations in D.C. the Metrobus picks up the slack but don’t write off the short bus too quickly. It can sometimes be quicker and more comfortable than the metro. Since public transit is an intern’s lifeline I thought I should include a quick rundown of how to get around town.

 

Redline – Shady Grove

That is what you’ll hear over the train’s intercom countless times and the train you’ll catch most often at the NOMA Metro station just 2 blocks from the TWC Residential and Academic Facility, aka the RAF. It’s the conductors who really make the ride interesting with their own unique flair. One conductor in particular I swear wanted to be a pilot instead. What you’ll hear the most is how the D.C. Metro may not be as efficient as the NY Subway but it’s a heck of a lot cleaner! That’s true but when you’re standing outside in a suit on the platform in 100° weather and the time until the next train arrives literally says “- -“, you don’t care if you have to ride in the circus car between a llama and an emu. Of course, that is hopefully temporary due to the extensive track work they are doing. It can be frustrating at times but it isn’t as bad as it sounds, particularly thanks to the shuttle provided by TWC that goes between the RAF, Union Station, and the grocery store.

 

 

A piece of advice, don’t be afraid to push your way on to the train around peak times or you might never make it on! You have to be a little aggressive, but always polite, in a big city like D.C. As awkward as it may be on those crammed cars, bumping into strangers and stepping on toes, they understand how it works and it’s the price you pay if you don’t want to wait for the next train. Just yesterday I barely squeezed on the train before the doors closed on my heels and I had to trust the two people I was wedged between to hold me up during the acceleration and deceleration of the train. It’s all about footing! If you want to try and avoid some of the crowds the front of the train is usually less busy, for whatever reason.

 

Metro Center Station, probably the busiest station in D.C.

 

The first thing you’ll want to do when you get to D.C. is buy a SmarTrip card, you can buy them at any CVS or Metro sales booth for $10 but you have to fill it which can be done at any metro entrance. D.C. transit is very expensive, unfortunately, but many internship sites will provide a stipend or a transit pass to ease the cost of being an intern. I won’t get into details of how much it costs since it always seems to go up but keep transit costs in mind when you’re budgeting for D.C!

 

 

Not as bad as it looks.

 

Excuse me, is that your bag?

By now you’re probably dreading taking the metro but don’t! It can actually be a lot of fun, particularly if you like people watching. The best part of taking the metro is the variety of people you’ll see; from Capitol Hill staff, tourists, and military personnel, to other interns just like us. It seems like you get a free pass to stare at people while on a train (this is particularly true in New York), the only rule is you have to look away if they look up and make eye contact! I hope that’s true anyway otherwise I’m that creepy guy who stares! That’s ok though, I wouldn’t be the only weirdo who takes the train, trust me!

 

Red Line - Grosvenor!

 

Taking the metro at night on the weekend is an adventure in itself and can be lots of fun if you’re with a group of friends and you strike up conversations with other groups of people, then you can tell your TWC advisors you’ve been networking!

 

As far as the comparisons between the D.C. Metro and the NY Subway go, they are similar in more ways than you’d think. Take these two photos I took for example. The first one is on the DC Metro and the second one is on the NY Subway.

 

GTL... Sleep

 

Drunken love!

 

So the next time someone tries to tell you one metro is better than the other, remember these two passed out couples and know they are alike in more ways than we care.

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