My Experience With the Washington Metro to Dulles Airport: More Details

hen reiterating my trip report — that I rode on Megabus from Atlanta to Washington, D.C.; stayed over a weekend; then took the Red Line of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Metro to the Metro Center station to catch the Silver Line to the end, which is the Wiehle-Reston East station; then I was a passenger on the Dulles International Airport Silver Line Express — I once again realized that when it comes to travel, there is something seriously wrong with me.

I do not intend to change that. Nope. Not ever. As long as I am able to walk freely, breath easily and stay healthy, I want to enjoy travel as much as I can — and I enjoy the looks on the faces of people when they ask where and how I travel.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

When the train of the Silver Line of the Washington Metro emerged outside from the tunnel on that wet and soggy morning, there was Interstate 66 — the same Interstate 66 which traffic was at an inexplicably complete standstill when I was a passenger on Megabus. Oh, sure — now it is moving, I thought to myself. Fortunately, the rain had already stopped by the time I began my journey to the airport. I like the rain — just not when I am traveling.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

The Silver Line train switched from Interstate 66 to the middle of Virginia State Highway 267, which is also known as the Dulles Access Road or the Dulles Toll Road. The tracks then left the highway; and one of the stops was in McLean, Virginia.

McLean. Is that not where Hilton Worldwide is headquartered?

Sure enough, I turned around and there it was — drenched; but there it was.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

I am typing this article from the Hilton Nairobi, by the way. I intend to give a report on this hotel property in a future article. Meanwhile, I am attempting to catch up on reports of this trip which I missed; so please bear with me.

I finally reached the Wiehle-Reston East station at the end of the line — cue in those Traveling Wilburys, please — and followed the signs to the Dulles International Airport Silver Line Express.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Of course, the bus had just left moments before I arrived; so I had to wait at least 15 minutes for the next bus — which was not a problem, as I had plenty of time to catch my flight. The Dulles International Airport Silver Line Express operates every 20 minutes and cost five dollars.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

The entire trip from Medical Center station to the airport was $8.60 total with a Smartrip card during off-peak hours, which saved me a dollar — otherwise, the trip would have cost me $9.60.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

I borrowed the Smartrip card and will return it to its rightful owner — who loaned me a spare — when I am back in the Washington, D.C. area. Because I am not a resident of the Washington, D.C. area and do not intend to use the transit system often, I did not bother to purchase my own Smartrip card.

As has been suggested to me by readers of The Gate, the preferable way to have traveled would have probably been using the Metrobus route 5A instead. It would have cost only seven dollars using a Smartrip card and I would not have had to switch from one mode of transportation to another; but I was given a ride to the Medical Center station that morning — and beggars cannot be choosers, as the old saying goes. I was grateful for the ride.

It was a pleasant trip overall; but it will certainly be a faster trip — and hopefully less expensive, but I doubt it — when the Silver Line is finally completed, which is expected to occur in 2018.

All photographs ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

10 thoughts on “My Experience With the Washington Metro to Dulles Airport: More Details”

  1. Paul says:

    For the penny pincher Fairfax Connector bus 981 will also take you to the airport but has a couple of stops in between. It’s only $1.25 if you got off the subway (subway transfer fare) and a little higher for standard fare

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Thank you for the excellent information, Paul!

      Do you know how much longer the Fairfax Connector bus 981 would take versus other methods of transportation?

      Also, I typically travel light — but what about the passenger with luggage? Is there room for it on the bus?

  2. Erik says:

    in the next few years you’ll be able to dispense with the smart trip card all together. Metro is testing out new fare gates that allow you to pay by smartphone. (as long as it has NFC capability) Oh’ and we’re always baffled about the inexplicable traffic jams here!

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      If it is of any solace, Erik, the traffic jams in Washington, D.C. are nothing compared to the ones in Nairobi.

      Thank you for the information about the new technology. Does that mean that it is possible one day that you must own a portable electronic device in order to ride on the Metro?

      1. Erik says:

        Thanks for the tip… Nairobi is on my bucket list! As for the fare gates, from what I understand you will still be able to use the smart trip cards so you have a choice of payment methods. they are doing away with the paper fare tickets all together in the near future, but I suspect that the smart trip cards will be around for a while. The smartphone pp will just give folks an alternative payment method and possibly make it easier form folks from out of town to use the system. There is a $5.00 fee for the smart trip card in addition to the fare that you add so I would imagine the app will make it a little cheaper especially if you aren’t going to be in DC often and don’t want to pay for the card.

  3. DavidB says:

    Yet another example of how ill-planned IAD has been. It will have taken 50 years since the airport came into being as a major capital gateway until it has a decent rapid transit link! Just like the Airtrain connection between terminals that drops us off a mile from pier C because planners thought there’d be a E/F pier soon so they could save money with a single stop to serve C/D and E/F! I imagine the senior management of this airport is known as Dumb and Dumber!! Yes, I hate IAD but often have little choice but to transit through it as long as I continue to fly UA…which is not much longer!!!

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I personally never liked those people movers or whatever they are called, DavidB.

      Then again, LaGuardia Airport in New York still does not have a subway connection; so Washington, D.C. is not the only city guilty of arguably poor planning…

  4. Jay says:

    You people must be joking, you might as well rename this the jew blog on how to pinch pennies.. talkign about saving $1… u have nothing better to do..

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I did get a laugh out of it, Erik. Yes, that is wishful thinking to the extreme. Thank you!

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