Dulles to Baltimore at night-- transportation possibilities?
March 5, 2015 6:39 PM   Subscribe

I am flying into Dulles (IAD) on a Wednesday night at around 9pm. I need to get myself to Baltimore/ Mount Vernon area that same night. What are my options? (No valid driver's licence so can't rent&drive)

I planned poorly before I bought the ticket, and am only now realizing that the DC-Baltimore MARC train stops running before 9pm on weekdays. So, I need advice for other ground transportations. Multiple transfers ok provided I get to Baltimore on Wednesday night, no matter how late.
Other options I've looked into are
1) UberX-- fare estimate is about 70 dollars, which is really the most I can afford. Can anyone comment on Uber likelihood out there? Would uber drivers be willing to go to IAD?
2) How do I get to DC's Union station to take a bus to Baltimore? Is this my best bet?
3) I've posted an ad for rideshare on Craigslist. Are there any other possibilities along those lines?
4) shared vans like Super Shuttle. Too expensive.
posted by atetrachordofthree to Travel & Transportation around Baltimore, MD (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can take a bus from Dulles to the Metro, and then the Metro to Union Station. Be cautious with the Union Station bus stop. Sometimes the buses leave from the 1st Street station, and walking up the block at that time of night is how a friend of mine got mugged.
posted by chainsofreedom at 6:47 PM on March 5, 2015

Addressing your point 1, you might have trouble getting an Uber at Dulles. The drivers are willing to go to Dulles, but Dulles doesn't want Uber idling on airport property.
posted by Rob Rockets at 7:04 PM on March 5, 2015

This is pretty difficult. You could.. take the Washington Flyer for $5 from Dulles to the Wiehle metro (Silver Line) and then change lines at L'Enfant Plaza to the Green Line, and take the metro all the way to the last stop in Greenbelt. Metro fare would be $5 or so I think (either buy a metrocard for $5 or a paper card with exact fare plus the $1 paper card fee they get you for). Then take an Uber the rest of the way. (I'd definitely check with Uber about being assured of a ride available at Greenbelt first, before counting on it.) The Uber site still estimates the fare for the 30-mile or so stretch from Greenbelt to Mount Vernon as $40-55. This is what I'd do though, because good grief, after a flight and a bus and a metro I'd like the rest of the trip to be straight to my destination.

You could also take the Washington Flyer from Dulles to the Wiehle metro (Silver Line) and then change lines at Metro Center to the Red Line, and go to Union Station. Then take the Greyhound bus to Baltimore. The internets says there are 11:15 pm and 12:01 am buses from Union Station to Baltimore. This is the cheapest option since the first parts of the trip will run you about $10 and the Greyhound tickets are a little less than $10. I've never taken the Greyhound though. Don't know how far it is from the Baltimore Greyhound station to your destination but I'd definitely take a cab on that end. And in general I wouldn't try to cut the time too close because it's always difficult to figure out where to find your bus stop is in a new city.
posted by citron at 7:23 PM on March 5, 2015

This is a terrible dilemma. I'm sorry - I wish I had better news. However, if $70 is the top of your budget, the Supershuttle from Dulles to BWI will cost you $59. Not sure how far away from BWI you need to get but there may be a Baltimore city bus that can get you the rest of the way, or possibly even a hotel van if you're staying at a hotel or near one. Otherwise, you're looking at the kindness of strangers or taking the Metro and other bus/shuttles with at least four transfers. The latter, with all the connections, is probably a three hour minimum, so depending on how long it takes you to get off the plane, get luggage if applicable, and hoof it to Metro shuttle to start your journey... you're looking at more like an "early morning" arrival rather than late night. If your flight is delayed, Metro is out anyway, it doesn't run all night like in some cities. Uber will not be able to pick you up from Dulles, they don't allow Uber idling.

If you're flying Southwest into Dulles, it might be cheaper to change your ticket to one that gets in earlier, or flies into BWI, than it is to get you to Baltimore from Dulles.
posted by juniperesque at 8:09 PM on March 5, 2015

Yeah, this isn't ideal. If you can get to union station by 10 (which is conceivable via cab if you aren't flying international, but not cheap) there's an amtrak around then, it goes right to Penn Station north of mt vernon in about 20-25 minutes, ~$20. You can get a super shuttle to union station, but I'm less confident that that time window can be guaranteed to work. The next amtrak after that is usually somewhere around 3am. If you commit to the 3am one you can probably do the silver line -> metro option which will be a lot cheaper. In my experience with the silver line thing there's no way you'll get to union station in an hour via that route.

If you take the super shuttle to BWI you will most likely be able to make a light rail, which goes right to mt vernon (mt royal stop), they stop running around midnight.
posted by advil at 8:20 PM on March 5, 2015


The internets says there are 11:15 pm and 12:01 am buses from Union Station to Baltimore. This is the cheapest option since the first parts of the trip will run you about $10 and the Greyhound tickets are a little less than $10. I've never taken the Greyhound though. Don't know how far it is from the Baltimore Greyhound station to your destination but I'd definitely take a cab on that end.

The Baltimore greyhound station is very far from anything (and not in a great area either) -- you would definitely need to take a cab. I would personally rather deal with a 3am train than the baltimore grayhound station...
posted by advil at 8:26 PM on March 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you really land at 9pm, you could probably make the 10:30 MARC Train by taking the Washington flyer bus to the metro, at least if you don't have to get checked luggage.

We're you looking at a different MARC schedule?
posted by mercredi at 8:40 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: oh yeah, actually i think I looked at the camden line by accident! this is great!
Keep the ideas coming! Thanks for all the suggestions so far!
posted by atetrachordofthree at 8:44 PM on March 5, 2015

I'm not sure if your reason for the trip (business, pleasure, etc.?) but asking a friend or other contact to pick you up would be ideal. Short-term parking at Dulles is easy and cheap, and it'd be an easy and relatively short drive to Baltimore at 9 p.m. (Public transportation options during the day would be much better but traffic would be much worse.) Chances are that someone wouldn't mind helping you out, especially if you offered to pay for gas and treat them to coffee and a meal as a thank you.
posted by smorgasbord at 9:38 PM on March 5, 2015

Just as a data point when you're comparing options: I took a cab at night from Dulles to Alexandria a few years ago, and if I remember correctly, it cost me about $70.
posted by alligatorman at 10:09 PM on March 5, 2015

Wiehle Ave to L'Enfant Plaza, for example, is a one-hour trip, and at night, the trains on the silver line don't run with high frequency, so you'll need to time it from the time you actually board.

There's a couple things I'd check into if I were in your shoes:

1) How much the fare difference/change would be if you changed your plane ticket to BWI? Tickets themselves into BWI are often much cheaper than IAD, so the penalties might be cancelled out by a fare difference.

2) Barring that, taking Metro to Union Station and working from there gives you the most options - you can use a bus, MARC train or Amtrak. That would be Silver Line to the Red Line.

3) Alternately, you can take Metro all the way to Greenbelt, then the B30 bus to BWI - you'd need to change from the Silver line to the Green Line, but you can do that in a couple places. That will then give you the option of Amtrak, cab or other kind of shuttle from BWI to your final destination.

There's a handy app called iTrans, which tracks the DC Metro trains and can help you time things.
posted by Thistledown at 5:38 AM on March 6, 2015

I'd propose this: cab to the orange line like West Falls Church. Metro to Union Station. Try to catch that last Marc train. If that fails you'll have to get a bus or pony up 30$ for a later Amtrak train from U station. But you could make it. Either way Penn Station in Bmore will also have Cabs or it's a relatively safe walk to the neighborhood you're heading to. Getting away from Dulles quickly is the hardest part. It's awful.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:03 AM on March 6, 2015

I'm not sure where you are seeing that the DC-Balt MARC stops at 9PM. Last train northbound is 10:30PM, unless there's something wonky going on. That is in their published schedule, anyway. I haven't taken it recently but I take the VRE at lot, and it seems that the MARC trains generally leave on schedule...

I've picked up Ubers at IAD several times. It is not a problem. It's basically the same situation as with Uber at every other major airport (e.g. DCA, SFO, JFK)... you have to put in a request and tell the driver where you'll be, and they come meet you. They can't idle on the property, because they're not a cab, and they can't go through the taxi/bus lane. You have to meet them as though they're a regular old passenger car. (Actually IAD is easier than e.g. SFO, which makes you go and meet Ubers on the departure level. I don't think they do that at Dulles although it can be a good way to meet them in an uncongested area.) As soon as the car is assigned, I'd call the driver and tell them where you are, giving them a specific door number.

Uber is certainly my preference over the Washington Flyer service.

If it were me, I'd probably Uber to Union Station and then get a train from there to Baltimore. If you get there by 10:10PM there is an Amtrak which gets you to Baltimore a bit before 11 and costs $16, or you can wait until 10:30 and take the last weekday MARC train at 10:30pm (Train 452) which gets you into Baltimore at 11:30. It's only $7, I think? Personally I would aim for the 10:10 Amtrak and have the MARC as a backup, if only because I never like aiming to take the last train of the night because it leaves you without a fallback plan if something goes wrong.

The Uber is worth the expense IMO, because otherwise I don't think you will be able to get from Dulles to Union Station in time for either train, and you are stuck taking a bus and then a cab on the far end.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:44 AM on March 6, 2015

Pay for the shuttle from Dulles to BWI, then take Light Rail to the Centre St. stop, it's a few blocks walk to Mt. Vernon.
posted by AliceBlue at 3:12 PM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding AliceBlue. Baltimore's light rail is a cheap, direct ride from BWI directly into Mount Vernon. You just have to get that shuttle over to BWI.

posted by ImproviseOrDie at 3:15 AM on March 7, 2015

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