Transit How-To Guide

With buses and trains making stops all over Arlington, riding transit is one of the simplest, most convenient ways to travel in this area. Here's everything you need to know to get started.

4 Easy Steps to Start Riding Transit

The basics of riding the bus or train. Just follow these 4 Easy Steps.

How to Pay for Transit

ART & Metrobus

Photo: SmarTrip-equipped fareboxThe regular fare for ART and Metrobus is $1.75, using a SmarTrip card or cash. Senior citizens and people with disabilities pay 85¢ with proper ID. Middle and high school students with IDs ride ART for 85¢ through the iRide program.  Riders using SmarTrip cards receive free or discounted transfers.

To pay your fare, insert your money (exact change only) into the fare box – or tap your SmarTrip card on the circular target on top of the fare box – when you first board the bus.

Metrorail

Metrorail fares vary depending on the time of day and distance traveled.  Fares must be paid with a farecard. Farecard machines are available near the entrance of every Metrorail station. With a SmarTrip card, minimum peak (rush hour) fare is $2.15; minimum off-peak fare is $1.75. SmarTrip card fares range from $1.75 to $5.90. Metro is phasing out paper farecards. At this writing, paper farecards are still accepted, but a $1 surcharge is added to the fare. Since SmarTrip cards only cost $2, it makes sense to buy one if you plan to ride Metrorail more than once. SmarTrip cards can also be used to pay fares on Metrobus and local bus systems in the D.C. area. SmarTrip cards can be purchased from vending machines at Metrorail stations, Metro sales offices, from the Arlington County Commuter Stores, or online at CommuterDirect.com. Senior citizens and people with disabilities are eligible for a discount – seniors can purchase discounted SmarTrip cards at Metro sales offices or at an Arlington County Commuter Store. More on Metrorail fares.

SmarTrip Card Transfers

If you take more than one bus or train on a single trip, you’re eligible to receive a discounted transfer fare if you pay with a SmarTrip card. Riders who transfer from Metrorail to ART or Metrobus receive a 50¢ discount, riders who transfer from ART or Metrobus to Metrorail receive a 50¢ discount, and riders who transfer from bus to bus ride free within a two-hour time period.

About SmarTrip Cards

Carry a SmarTrip card, and you can leave your cash at home. SmarTrip cards are permanent, rechargeable fare cards that make paying your transit fares fast and easy! They can store the value of many trips (up to $300 worth), pay for Metrorail, Metrobus and ART fares, pay for parking at Metro parking facilities, and save you money with automatically discounted bus and transfer fares.

The bright yellow Senior SmarTrip card gives riders ages 65 and older discounted fares on Metrobus and Metrorail. You need to show a valid government issued photo ID with proof of age when purchasing the card.

You can buy SmarTrip cards at any Commuter Store or online at commuterdirect.com, then add value to them at the fare/pass machines in any Metrorail station, on any Metrobus or ART bus (see video showing how to add value on the bus), at any Commuter Store and at many CVS Stores and Giant Food Stores.

How to Read a Timetable

Graphic: sample timetableThe easiest way to find bus times and schedules is to use Metro's Trip Planner, ART's website, or CommuterPage.com's online schedules or Mobile Services. But for times when you’re not near a computer, here’s how to read a printed schedule:

  1. Look at the top row of the timetable to find the stops closest to where you’ll get on and off the bus. Don’t worry if you don’t see your actual stop listed – there are lots more stops in between these time stops.
  2. Move down the columns to see what times (am and pm) buses arrive at each stop. If your stop isn’t listed, use the time shown for the stop right before it, since it’s better to get there too early than too late.
  3. Follow the row with the times you want on it to the left to see which bus you should board.

For example: If you want to get to Washington Blvd. & Quincy St. by about 4:15 pm, and you’re leaving from a stop that’s in between Rosslyn and Court House, be at your stop by 4:01 pm – you’ll catch bus 38B, which should arrive at 4:16 pm.

Did You Know?

Driving alone is the primary commute mode for 54% of Arlington Commuters, compared to 83% statewide.

2007 Virginia State of the Commute Study: Arlington Perspective

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