Guest Author - Donna Ledbetter
When riding the metro or when reading a metro map, you will find that the Washington, DC metro consists of five major lines (or routes). They are referred to as “the blue line,” “the red line,” “the yellow line,” etc. When you are about to board the train, you need to know not only the direction, but the color of the line as well. Generally, commuters will begin first with their destination and then figure out from there at which metro stop they need to get off. Then, they will look at their starting point, where they may decide to pick up the closest train (without regard to the line color) or to walk instead to the closest line stop with the color they want to end up on.
Many of the lines run parallel throughout most of their routes. For commuters, this means faster travel because they can take the first line that arrives at the platform. The blue and orange lines, for example, run parallel through parts of Virginia. If you are traveling from King Street to Pentagon City, you could take either the blue or yellow lines to that stop to reach your destination.
The best way to navigate the lines is with a map. At the information booth of each metro station, a metro station attendant is on call to answer any questions you might have about traveling. However, they might also equip you with a pocket-size copy of the metro map. Carry this map with you during the entire length of your trip. Though you may end up getting directions as you start out, you’ll want to be able to pick a train and get back should you wander off your path a little to explore.
The lines themselves are excellent starting points for independent exploration. If you’re one of those travelers who likes to go off without an itinerary, the metro lines can help you explore the city without getting too lost. Great metro stops for random exploring include Dupont Circle on the Red Line, Smithsonian on the Blue and Orange Lines, U Street on the Green and Yellow Lines, and Silver Spring on the Red Line.
For related articles, check out the Washington, DC destinations page at the start of the MidAtlantic USA site.