When traveling you want to take the option that saves you the most time and doesn’t cost too much. In areas like Alexandria, Virginia there tends to be a lot of traffic and not a ton of places to park your car. Because of this many people turn to using public transportation while in Alexandria.
Alexandria, Virginia has several forms of transportation, including common options like buses and subways and more modern options like a bike share service. Many of the options connect Alexandria to Washington D.C. across the river or help riders get to the neighboring cities to the north and west.
While it is good to know that you have options when it comes to public transportation, you also want to know how to use those options. With that in mind here are some things that should help you with your first experiences riding public transportation in Alexandria, Virginia.
Transportation Areas You Should Know
When in a city, you will want to know the locations you can travel to. If you don’t know these locations, it can make travel difficult or impossible. Keeping that in mind, here are a couple of areas and places that are important to know you to know while traveling in Alexandria, Virginia.
The first part of Alexandria is Old Town. This is the portion of the city that is right on the Potomac River. It is characterized by grid-patterned streets and historical buildings. This is the closest portion of Alexandria to Washington D.C. and the area with the trolley. The next portion of the city is North Ridge to the northwest of Old Town. Alexandria West is the next area to the west of North Ridge and stretches deeper into Virginia. The final area is Landmark sitting in the far western corner of the city.
The city of Alexandria mostly sits between two highways. The top highway heads northeast before passing the Pentagon and heading into Washington D.C. The lower highway, which is the lower capital loop, passes through Alexandria before crossing the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge into Oxon Hill before turning north and heading towards the Capitol. Keeping these areas in mind, you can imagine traveling through Alexandria as well as start talking about the specific types of transportation available in Alexandria, Virginia.
There are a handful of bus lines that run through Alexandria. Each of them gives you a little bit of flexibility on where you can travel and how to get to different destinations. With that in mind, here are the buses that you can choose between in Alexandria.
This is the line that you want to choose if you need to travel between different neighborhoods in Alexandria. This bus line travels through 3 of the 4 major areas within the city of Alexandria. Starting in Old Town, the bus does a slow loop down through the historic district before turning west onto King Street, one of the main attractions of Old Town. Following King Street west, the bus takes you past the shops and attractions before King Street takes a turn to the northwest.
Continuing to follow King Street, the bus drives north passing through the neighborhoods of North Ridge and Alexandria West. The final stop along this route is at the Bradook Street Metro Station.
This is another one of the bus lines within the city. This is a shorter line that helps you get from Alexandria across the river into Maryland. Starting in Old Town, the bus drives onto the southern border highway before heading towards the bridge. Crossing the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, the bus has a couple of stops in Oxen Hill, Maryland. If you want to make a short trip across the river, take a look at the NH2 bus line.
This bus line takes you along the Potamic River from Old Town up north to Arlington Cemetary. While it seems like the bus line might connect to the Washington Airport, it doesn’t make a stop there, so this bus line is most useful if you want to travel up to Arlington National Cemetary to pay your respects.
This is the final bus line in Alexandria. It has a similar route to the 10A bus line, hence the similar names. However, instead of heading up to Arlington, the line turns northwest and heads towards Fairfax, Virginia. One benefit to this line over the 10A line is this line passes through both the Old Town and North Ridge neighborhoods in Alexandria.
One of the most common ways to get around the Alexandria area is the use the metro system. The metro is the underground train system that helps to quickly connect different portions of the city or even Alexandria to other cities. If you want a quick way to get to where you are going, the Metro has to be near the top of your list.
There are two different metro lines that pass through Alexandria. Each of these lines runs through the Old Town portion of Alexandria, but other than that, each has its own subtle differences in where they travel. We will look at each of these metro lines so you can decide if either of these helps with your travel needs. Something to keep in mind is that since Washington D.C. is the biggest attraction in the area, all of the metro lines are geared towards serving D.C. with secondary roles elsewhere.
The first of the two metro lines is the blue line. This line connects Alexandria to Springfield, Virginia to the west, and Washington D.C. to the northeast. This is a good line to choose if you need to travel to cities to the west or east of Alexandria. By traveling west along the Blue Line, you head deeper into Alexandria and eventually into other cities in Virginia. If you want to get to and from the Landmark neighborhood in Alexandria, you will want to take the Blue Line.
There are other attractions along the Blue Line as well. If you ride the Blue into Old Town you can get off on King Street. King Street is famous for the many boutiques and specialty shops that line the street. If you head further north, there is a stop at the Ronald Regan Washington National Airport. If you need to catch a flight out of Alexandria or you are just landing, the metro is a great way to travel without having to haul your luggage around with you. If you want to pay a visit to Arlington National Cemetary, there is a stop for that as well.
If you want to take a day trip to explore Washington D.C., you can ride the blue line into the capital. It has stops at the Smithsonian, as well as stops along the National Mall and near the Capitol Building.
The other metro line serving Alexandria is the Yellow Line. This line has similar stops to the Blue Line but does have some different stops as well. The Yellow Line starts just south of Alexandria in Huntington Virginia. It then makes stops at King Street and the Aiport, just like the Blue Line. The big difference in the Yellow Line is where it heads after Alexandria. Cutting through Washington D.C., it heads north into Maryland up towards College Town. If you need to travel north out of D.C consider taking the Yellow Line.
Fares and Passes
In order to ride the metro, you will either need a ticket or a pass. The cost of riding the metro varies depending on how far it is between your stops. The metro also has times that it considers to be peak or non-peak riding times. It tends to cost a bit more to ride during a peak commute time.
If you only plan on making one trip, you can buy a single ticket for between $2 and $6 (depending on the distance of the trip and the time of day, i.e. peak or non-peak). You can also buy a 1-day unlimited ride pass for $13 or a 3-day pass for $28 if you plan on using the metro often.
A new option that has become popular in cities is using a bike share program instead of cramming yourself onto a bus or metro car with dozens of other people. The bike share program in Alexandria is called Capital Bikeshare and offers a variety of bikes depending on your skill and interest.
Capital Bikeshare has an annual subscription service, but it may cost too much or last too long if you only plan on staying in Alexandria for a couple of days. Instead, you can ride the bikes as a guest. A classic bike will cost a guest $1 to unlock and $.05 a minute while you are using it. You can choose an assisted electric bike that carries the same unlock fee ($1) but costs $.15 a minute to ride. To find a nearby available bike, you can visit this map to start your next ride.
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