D.C. may not have a 24-hour subway system like New York City, but there are plenty of easy ways to get around your new home – made easier by some handy smartphone apps.
App: “Embark DC” lets you map out your travel plans from point A to point B and estimates arrival times – all without an Internet or cellular connection. Make sure to check for any delays, especially on weekends, before you leave your room.
The Metrorail system is the simplest way to explore the District. The Orange and Blue lines can take you from Foggy Bottom to classic tourist destinations like the Smithsonian, Metro Center and Capitol South stations. It’s also easier than ever to buy a SmarTrip, the reloadable card that will cost just $2 starting this October, which is the same price as one round-trip paper farecard. Once you’re past the gate, make sure to follow proper Metro etiquette and don’t be an “escalefter.”
App: “Find a Metro DC” gives real-time information about delays, directions to points of interest and times for the first and last trains of the day. DC Metro and Bus also predicts times of arrival and lets you save commonly used stations to a favorites list.
The Circulator is a cheap, easy way to reach locations off the Metro map. Buses run every 10 minutes and cost just $1. If you’re looking to feed your Jumbo Slice craving but don’t want to pay for a cab, take the Green Line. It runs until 3:30 a.m. on weekends and stops at 18th Street in Adams Morgan. Don’t want to walk to Georgetown? Catch the Blue Line at 22nd Street and Pennsylvania Avenue for a quick ride to Wisconsin Avenue and M Street.
App: Get your hands on “Bikeshare DC” to make sure there is a bike at your stop or an open space for drop off.
Grab a bike at one of the dozens of bike pick-ups in D.C., then drop it off at any other station in the city. This is a good option if you’re going on a quick trip, but it’s not the best for rush hour travel. A 24-hour pass costs $7 and includes a 30-minute ride. More than 30 minutes on the same bike will cost you extra, so watch your time to avoid fees.
App: Search for and book a rental with the Zipcar app. You can even honk the horn and lock or unlock the doors from your iPhone.
If you just scored a couch on Craigslist or need to stock up on Red Bull and ramen at Costco, rent a Zipcar for around $8.25 an hour. As a GW student, the annual fee is about $15 a year, but gas money and insurance is included. The closest lots include spots at The Statesman apartments, International House and Amsterdam residence halls and Columbia Plaza.
Avoid driving downtown, where parking is limited and can be expensive. And be careful, because D.C. drivers are 112 percent more likely to crash compared to the national average, according to a report from Allstate Insurance.
Apps: Uber DC will get you in touch with the nearest driver approved by the company using your phone’s GPS and give you a fare quote even if you plan to split with friends. Or you can try “Hailo,” which, unlike Uber, charges a flat rate of $1.50 to hail cabs any time of day and allows drivers from anywhere in the city to use the service.
Don’t forget cabs as an option, especially for weekend outings. Don’t want to stand on the street? Uber DC and Hailo allow you to order a cab and and pay by credit card. Uber includes tip when you are charged, so no need to fumble for singles. Start the school year off right by ordering yourself the company’s shiny black town car.