The Metro Transit Link card is a special fare card for commuters who regularly travel via the Maryland Regional Commuter (MARC) train, the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) and the Washington, DC metro rail and bus line systems. For the price of weekly DC metro pass, riders can use the Transit Link card for a month’s worth of travel. It includes weekend travel, rush hour travel, and travel on buses.
The transit link card is a fabulous deal for daily commuters to Washington, DC and parts of northern Virginia. These might include students, office workers in the Washington metro area, and commuters who work or study in Baltimore or Virginia but use the metro daily in DC. Travelers who expect to vacation in the Baltimore/Washington and northern Virginia areas for a month or more and expect to travel a lot in the region for business will also benefit.
The downside for the MARC card is that an alternative card does not exist for commuters who want unlimited travel on the Baltimore bus and subway systems. The reason for this may be due the Washington, DC metro area’s superior coordinated public transportation system. It ranks in the top 10 in the United States and the world. When compared to the Maryland transportation system outside of the Washington, DC metro area, public transportation falls flat. Wherever there are buses and trains there will always be people who complain about slow service, shoddy customer relations, and the less than pristine and sanitary conditions that are par for the course with regard to public spaces shared by millions. Yet, in Maryland north of DC, such complaints are not without warrant.
The VRE also offers a similar Transit Link card that allows for unlimited DC metro access with use of the VRE to points in northern Virginia. However, unlike the MARC card, the VRE card has prorated costs depending on the zones a traveler goes between. Like the Maryland metro and bus systems north of DC, the VRE has its challenges. The card does come with its conveniences, however, so regular travelers can benefit from this option if their schedule calls for daily use.
Wherever you travel, the Transit Link card is a smart choice for daily commuters. The decision to purchase the card becomes even easier for those whose commutes involve not only driving, but rail and bus and/or metro as well. However, to know truly if the Transit Link card works for you, compare the numbers. Think about how often your commute involves the metro in a given month (including weekends, because you’re paying for it) and begin the analysis from there. If the card saves you money, it's a bargain.