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Old 05-27-2008, 08:42 AM
Location: PA
21 posts, read 114,010 times
Reputation: 20



I just moved to Alexandria last week. I will be working in downtown DC, 2 blocks west of the White House. I live at Riverside Apartments in Alexandria at Huntington Ave and RT 1. There is a free shuttle to the Huntington metro, which is the yellow line. I need to transfer to the blue line to get to Farragut West, which appears to be the closest to the building where I will be working.

From the system map, I see that I can transfer from yellow to blue at King St. or Pentagon, which one would be better?

I have never taken public transportation before. I have driven everywhere before. So, all of this is extremely new and scary to me.

I don't understand what I need to do to transfer. Once I get off the train at say King St., what do I need to do to get to the blue line train?

Also, should I order the SmarTrip card online or get one from the station?

I start in 2 weeks, would that be enough time to receive one in the mail?

Can I use a credit card to recharge them at the station?

How does it know what to charge me? Do I have to swipe it when I get on and when I get off?

I think that's all of my questions for now.

Thank you to anyone who replies to this plea for help!
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Old 05-27-2008, 09:08 AM
3,156 posts, read 8,096,516 times
Reputation: 1977
1. You can transfer at King St., Pentagon, or any of the stops in between. King St. is outside, Pentagon is inside, so that may affect your decision on which to use. To transfer, all you do is get off your train, stand on the platform, and wait for the train you're transferring to to come. You don't leave or re-enter the station.

2. There is a transit shop across the street from King St. station that sells SmartTrip cards. I'd probably just buy one there. If you want to wait for it in the mail that's fine too. Remember you don't need to buy a SmartTrip card to ride Metro. You can just buy paper farecards until your SmarTrip comes.

3. Yes you can use your credit card to recharge them. There are machines for that at the station.

4. You touch the SmarTrip to the faregate when you enter, then touch it again when you exit. If you're using a paper card, you insert it into the front of the faregate and it comes out the top.
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Old 05-27-2008, 09:23 AM
Location: DC
3,286 posts, read 10,567,747 times
Reputation: 1301
I'd transfer at Crystal City, Pentagon City, or Pentagon, just because it's inside. Other than that, it really doesn't matter. For blue line, do what pcity said, and just get off the train and stand there until the blue comes. During rush hour, it should be a max of 4 or 5 minutes, but usually less.

Just buy a SmarTrip at the station. Go to the big machine that has a "Smartrip" button, and follow the instructions to buy one. The initial minimum is $10 ($5 to pay for the card, $5 for the initial balance). After that, you can use a credit card, Metrocheks/SmartBenefits (either free or tax-free commuting money through your employer), or cash to add value. There's a step where you select how much you want to put on it.
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Old 05-27-2008, 09:25 AM
2,688 posts, read 5,951,545 times
Reputation: 1288
Hi, and welcome! I'll try to answer as many of your questions as I can.

Where to transfer: The platform at King Street is outdoors. So if the weather's nice and you don't mind waiting outside, you can transfer there. If you'd rather be indoors you can wait until the Pentagon.

The Blue and Yellow Line trains run on the same track at that point. So you will just need to get off the Yellow Line and stand there on the platform and wait for the next Blue Line train to arrive going in the same direction. The train should say on the front and side which color line it is. (For some other transfers you'll need to go elsewhere within stations, but you don't need to worry about that right now.)

I have never ordered a SmarTrip card by mail so don't know how long it takes. You can buy them in the stations from the machines. I don't know whether the machines ever run out of them. So I'm not helpful on that point.

Yes, you can use a credit card to reload them at the station. I've only used cash for them but my husband uses his credit card.

Yes, you touch your SmarTrip card (or insert your farecard) when you enter; that's what makes the turnstile open. When you leave, you touch it again, which makes the turnstile open so you can exit. The amount is automatically deducted from your SmarTrip balance.

In each station there's a list posted of the cost of going from that particular station to the others. You can also use the farecard machines to check how much money is left on your card.

It does seem rather complicated to a novice but we all figure it out -- you'll be fine! Good luck!
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Old 05-27-2008, 10:34 AM
Location: PA
21 posts, read 114,010 times
Reputation: 20
Wow! Thank you all so much. You have put my mind more at ease.

Pentagon sounds like a good idea since its indoors.

I will make a trip probably tomorrow to the huntington station to check it out.
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Old 05-27-2008, 12:59 PM
Location: Mountain View, CA
1,152 posts, read 2,844,916 times
Reputation: 1056
Another thing to check would be bus service. Since you have to take a shuttle to Huntington, it may be easier to take a bus of some kind to, say, King Street, and then just board the Blue Line to start with. If you were walking distance to Huntington, clearly changing trains would be easier, but since you aren't, you might be able to grab an express bus to King Street or the Pentagon station or something. Just a thought.

Have you tried the trip planner at Metro - Homepage ? It may have some helpful ideas too.
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Old 05-27-2008, 01:46 PM
3,156 posts, read 8,096,516 times
Reputation: 1977
Since he's in Riverside, the shuttle bus takes less than 5 minutes, and so does the trip to King St. I don't think there's any Fairfax or Metro buses that get you to King St. any faster than that, but I could be wrong.
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Old 05-28-2008, 05:27 PM
Location: Texas
230 posts, read 928,652 times
Reputation: 64
Hi Kaillus,

Sorry I can't give you any specific help regarding the metro system as such but just want to help put your mind at ease. We were in NOVA for a week visiting from Australia (my husband had a conference to attend in Fairfax) & I used the metro to travel into & around DC with my six year old & found it to be such a user friendly system. Had no trouble transfering from one train line to another despite not being in familar territory. You should be fine! Enjoy your new job!
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Old 05-28-2008, 07:21 PM
4,711 posts, read 10,863,041 times
Reputation: 3773
My only thought is: Concerning where you should transfer from the yellow to the blue line....if sitting is important to you, the Pentagon station, while indoors, is a zoo....and farther up the line.

Unless the weather is extreme, I think I'd transfer at King Street so you are seated as you watch the "festivities" at the Pentagon Station. Of course, it's considered good form to offer your seat to preggo ladies and old folks! LOL

If you are a "straphanger", disregard this post.
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Old 05-29-2008, 04:42 PM
Location: Arlington, VA
593 posts, read 2,243,485 times
Reputation: 301
You've got that right car54!

I lived in Alexandria when I first moved here, and the Pentagon Station is crazy. Definitely go for the King St. transfer for your commute.
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