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The Struggles of D.C. Transportation

It’s 4:30 on a Monday. Your internship starts at 5:00, and you have to make it all the way from Tenleytown to Metro Center. You’re standing at the entrance to the Metro, debating your options. You could risk it and take the Metro, praying there’s no ten minute wait, or even worse, single tracking. You could try and take the bus downtown, but let’s face it, who even knows how the bus system works? Or you could take an Uber, but the surge pricing is 2X the normal rate and you don’t know if you’ll even make it with traffic. So you risk it. You book it down the metro escalators in your heels, narrowly avoiding tripping to your death, and run to the turnstiles.

Then, your worst fear is realized. You watch in horror as the Glenmont-bound train pulls away from the platform, and you check the timetable. Next train: ten minutes.Everyone who has ever used D.C. public transportation has some sort of horror story. Here are a few of the most frustrating things about D.C. transit, which will leave you wishing you were riding the struggle bus instead of waiting for the 31 to Georgetown.


If you ever have to ride the Metro on a weekend, get ready to hurry up and wait. Evidentially, D.C. decided that in order to crush all happiness brought on by the weekend, they were going to designate Saturday and Sunday to track constructing. So of course, they only have one available track for all trains. This can lead to insufferable wait times and endless frustration and boredom.

Metro Accidents

D.C. is already a scary place, but adding to the fear factor of a big city is the fact that there are approximately 2 people per year killed on D.C. public transit. The Metro is one of the worst offenders. Already this year we’ve had to deal with a smoke-filled Metro twice, not to mention the fact that one of the Metro cars EXPLODED.

Clearly House of Cards wasn’t completely wrong for the fear of the Metro it instilled in me.

High Prices

One of the few times I long to be in New York City rather than D.C. is when I think about the Metro prices. In NYC, it’s $2.50 standard fare, no matter where you go, one stop or ten stops. Yet, in D.C., the price can range from $1.75-$4.50, depending on the time of the day and how far you’re going. My wallet feels the pain.

The Bus System

In general, the D.C. bus system is confusing. I had to download three apps on my phone just to get to Georgetown. Add to it that buses never run according to the posted schedule, and sometimes the bus you need likes to just stop running to your particular stop. And if you don’t know where you’re going, it’s very easy to end up someplace you really weren’t aiming to be.

Honestly, with all the stress the D.C. Metro causes, sometimes it really is just easier to take an Uber. Yet, once you figure out how to navigate D.C. in the most efficient way possible, you feel like every other public transit user has got nothing on you.

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