Free public transportation in Washington, DC – which is notorious for its heavily congested traffic and roundabout-filled roads – can sometimes seem like a blessing, and sometimes like a curse. Even though the Metrorail map is fairly user-friendly and easy to use, WMATA isn’t always on top of its game, and we could all feel a little more secure in knowing we have our timing down to a T.
Thankfully, the App store is full of transportation apps to suit all of your WMATA navigational needs. Here’s a list of what I’ve found to be the most tried and true (and free!):
Citymapper is, by far, my go-to app for planning my travels. All you have to do is type in your starting point and your destination, and it’ll give you a list of the best routes for you to take, including walking, buses, the metro, and/or a combination of the three. It estimates the time it’ll take for you to arrive, and even breaks down how long you’ll spend waiting, walking, or on the bus/metro.
Citymapper also includes dozens of other features, including maps, information about the metro lines, Carshare, Capital Bikeshare, and money/time estimations for both Uber and Lyft. Its user-friendly interface and offers clear step-by-step directions make it an obvious winner in my books.
Transit is a lot like Citymapper in that it breaks down the best routes for your trips and gives you time estimates. However, it also provides a pretty organized list of the nearby Metrobuses, their timings, and when they’ll arrive at local bus stops, which is probably its best feature, in my opinion.
I like to use Transit when I’m just waiting for a bus so I can keep an eye on the time and make sure I’m tracking my different options while I’m out. Although the GPS features on the WMATA buses aren’t always accurate, which can throw the app off in general, a lot of DC locals consider Transit to be their favorite and most reliable app. If Citymapper doesn’t work for you, give this one a try!
Metrohero allows you to log your daily morning and evening commutes, which can be helpful for anyone who regularly travels into the city, considering you can save your trips for future reference. This app breaks down the timings of the metro, and it also gives you updates right on the front page about elevator/escalator outages, MetroAlerts, and even relevant tweets. This is another clean app with an easy-to-use interface that’s helpful for quick updates on your travels.
ParkMobile isn’t a public transportation app, but I felt like it was important to include because it’s considered a must-have for anyone who owns a car in DC. This app allows you to easily pay for parking through your phone so you don’t have to deal with the hassle of quarters and parking meters. It also maps out all of the areas in the city with available parking, lets its users extend their parking time through the app, and has a feature that reserves spots in parking garages ahead of time.
All you have to do to use ParkMobile is enter the zone number on the sign you’ve parked below, set the duration time, and you’re good to go! This app is a favorite among DC residents with cars, so if you happen to have your own, give it a try!
All of these apps are free to download in both the Play store and the App store. Using them to direct me to different corners of DC has made my life so much easier, so if transportation isn’t your strongest suit, definitely give these apps a try for a better experience overall!