Once you have entered the metro and purchased your ticket or pass, there are certain nuanced items about the metro that you will need to know to make your ride a smooth one. When you get to the bottom of the escalator on the platform where you will get your train, you will find that it is split in half. You will be met with either a platform in the middle of two tracks or two tracks in the middle of two platforms. There are two tracks because there are at least two trains at all times traveling in opposite directions. You will need to make sure youíre going in the right direction before you board your train.
You may find the direction of your train in one of two ways. Just above selected escalators, there will be a billboard with information about which trains it leads to and in what direction. At stations like Metro Center or Chinatown, in particular, these signs will include both the color of the metro line (or route) and the final stop on that line. To determine the direction you are riding in, note the final stop on the line you want in the direction youíd like to go. You donít have to get off at the final stop. This is just an easy way to determine direction.
The other way you can determine direction is by looking for stands on the platform that contain stop information. These stands look like tall brown, square-shaped columns. Not all columns will have information, but those that do, will include all the stops along a particular route. Beginning at the stop you are at, it will list all the stops that come before and after. Look for the stop you want and stand to the side of the platform with that stop.
At some of the larger metro stations, switching platform train directions will involve going up and down escalators to get to the other side. If you happen to board a train in the wrong direction, donít panic. Just get off at the next stop and take the next train in the opposite direction.
For related articles, check out the Washington, DC destinations page at the start of the MidAtlantic USA site.