Weekend transit options in the greater D.C. area
November 14, 2016 9:25 AM   Subscribe

We need to be in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, January 21. That's the day after the presidential inauguration, so hotel rates are ridiculous and parking will be nonexistent. People who know D.C. transit: Where in the greater D.C. area can we get an affordable hotel room and catch a train or shuttle into the city on a Saturday?

We're coming up I-95, so Virginia locations would be convenient but it looks like VRE commuter rail only runs Monday-Friday. We need to get into D.C. around 10am on Saturday and out around 9pm. We care more about cost than comfort--we're all able-bodied adults--but safety's a priority since we're all female and unfamiliar with the city. I don't know much about Uber because it doesn't exist where I live, but if that's a viable option, please tell me more.
posted by xylothek to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't have concrete suggestions other than to be mindful that there is a massive protest planned for the 21st which may affect where you will be able to get to.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:53 AM on November 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Where in DC are you trying to get on Saturday?

If it's downtown DC, then you should be ok with anywhere on the DC metro (as far as I know they haven't finalized the metro schedule for inauguration weekend - here are the details from 2013, though - but aside from potential closures of the 1 or 2 downtown stops, it should be busy but running frequently. Luckily for you, the powers that be are working to suspend all of the otherwise-numerous DC metro service closures (happening as part of a wide-ranging program called SafeTrack) for inauguration weekend). Price-wise, you can get a weekend round-trip fare and a transit card for $10 a person.

I don't really know hotel prices in the DC area that well, but I'd expect that the most affordable areas that are also near the metro are going to be out on the ends of the line - there are also large parking garages at those stops so you might be able to stay even farther and do some sort of park'n'ride. For instance, maybe look at all the hotels out near Dulles airport, and drive/shuttle to the end of the silver line?

Uber is probably not the most affordable option for getting in from the 'burbs - and staying closer is definitely not going to be affordable that weekend - plus on super-busy days the prices go up considerably (even worse considering the potential traffic).
posted by R a c h e l at 9:58 AM on November 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've stayed at the Arlington Hilton before. It's right by a Metro stop.
posted by w0mbat at 10:01 AM on November 14, 2016

depending on how many people are in your group and where you end up staying we might be able to give you a ride to the metro - we're out near the Vienna stop (end of the Orange Line)
posted by brilliantine at 10:11 AM on November 14, 2016

Given that many people who will be traveling in for the inauguration are likely to stay the weekend, *and* there's a massive protest planned for the day you're talking about, I would not count on being able to use street-based transportation in a timely manner, whether buses or shuttles or taxis or Uber. Stick to the Metro, and allow extra time to get where you need to go.

Where specifically in DC will you be trying to go?
posted by Pandora Kouti at 10:13 AM on November 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

For large scale protests, local organizers typically arrange buses from outside locations, and this is generally a great option. Typically a lot of local churches also provide cots & such, if you are interested in that sort of accommodation. But otherwise, I agree park&ride in the VA suburbs is your best bet - just take a look at the metro map and build your hotel search from there. Most hotels near a metro stop will have a hotel shuttle to get you to the metro.

And just a general PSA: Currently, a lot about this event is up in the air. They do not have a permit yet, which may not be the easiest thing to get for this date. I would avoid any non-refundable plans at this stage.
posted by veery at 10:18 AM on November 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Anywhere on the edge of the DC metro on the orange, blue or yellow lines. Franconia, Vienna. There's also Amtrak but it's pricey.
posted by yarly at 10:20 AM on November 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

There's a decent Marriott right by the White Flint Metro station that may be reasonable.

Something else to consider is somewhere on the Marc Penn Line, which runs on the weekends now. Hell, I've had a train from Baltimore take less time than a Metro train from Grovesnor.
posted by General Malaise at 10:43 AM on November 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

I agree that Uber won't be a good solution to get you into central DC, but it could be helpful if the best hotel deal you can get isn't walking distance from the Metro - you could use Uber to cover that gap.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 3:30 PM on November 14, 2016

You won't find anything cheap that is also metro-accessible on that side of the Potomac. Metro is a mess and unlikely to get better. You might want to consider staying in Deanwood or Benning, since during the tea party days they were distributing maps that told people to avoid that side of the river/that end of the train lines. Capital bikeshare is worth considering if you're all relatively fit; traffic will be pretty locked down in much of the city.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:42 PM on November 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's entirely possible that every decent hotel room in the metro area is either booked or has jacked their prices sky high for that weekend. And Metro is having a lot of problems that lead to delays and probably won't be able to deal with increased traffic from attendees and protesters.

I would actually consider staying in Baltimore and taking the train to Union Station. From there, walk, use metro if it isn't a mess (check the news), or Uber. Expect getting between places downtown to take a lot longer than you expect.
posted by mkuhnell at 6:24 PM on November 14, 2016

Thanks, everyone. We found a room at the end of a Metro line and we're looking into bike rentals as a backup if the Metro and ground transit are totally overwhelmed. Hope to see some of y'all at the massive protest, assuming they can secure permits...
posted by xylothek at 6:04 AM on November 15, 2016

Capital Bikeshare is great if that's an option for you (but you probably won't want to ride the bikes for more than a few miles in a single sitting -- they're comfortable for getting around town, but aren't exactly efficient for long-haul rides)

All of the end-of-line stations have tons of parking, although parking is likely going to be somewhat constrained that weekend.
posted by schmod at 8:47 PM on December 12, 2016

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