Saturday, January 17, 2009

Baltimore to Washington DC: The Cheapest Carless Transit

Baltimore light rail goes to BWI, and from BWI you can get a bus to the Metro. I always knew this, but I never tried it until today.

Light rail ticket: $1.60.
B30 Bus from BWI to Greenbelt Metro Station: $3.00 with Smartrip ($3.10 cash).

One-way cost: $4.60 + Metro ride.
Time you should allocate: at least 3 hours.

Obviously, this is not the most efficient way to get from Baltimore to DC. The most efficient way is by car, which takes a little over an hour. The next most efficient way is to get someone to give you a ride to Penn Station and then take the MARC ($7-14) or an Amtrak train ($27 or $87) to Union Station. But it is the cheapest* way to go without a car, as far as I know.

Anecdotal portion:
Today, I got on the light rail at the Timonium stop, which is the 2nd-northernmost stop on the line. I got the 10:29, which was the one that went all the way to BWI. (Important: LOOK to see the final destination on the front car. Not all trains terminate at BWI.)

I arrived at BWI at 11:48, just missing the 11:40 B30 bus. (At BWI, the B30 picks up both at the BWI Business District light rail stop and at the terminal. In winter, I recommend taking the light rail all the way to the terminal, so you can warm up inside.) The B30 stop was just around the corner from where I got off the light rail.

The B30 picked me up at 12:10. I got to Greenbelt by 12:36. I was on a Green Line train by 12:37, although it waited five minutes before leaving. I was in my home in Silver Spring by 1:20.

I was lucky; the total trip could have been much longer if the B30 had been late or if the light rail had had more single-tracking. But I had no agenda for today, so it worked for me.

Things you'll need:
Light rail schedule.
B30 bus schedule. (PDF)
Patience/a book/music.

*You may notice that Districted will become a "cheap blog" in the coming months. Sorry?

1/17/09 5:28 - edited, with thanks to the Abbot.


AbbotOfUnreason said...

I've done that trip -- since I live in Greenbelt, it seemed like a fun idea for a trip to the Walters -- and I'm pretty sure the bus is $3.00 ($3.10 cash) (there might be a transfer savings going from rail to bwi).

There is actually a (very slightly) cheaper, longer way: Howard Transit from BWI to Arundel Mills/Laurel Connect-a-Ride J to Laurel Centre Mall/Laurel Connect-a-Ride H to Greenbelt -- $2.00, at least, the WMATA website gave that to me as option once: something like 3 hours to do, though.

aak said...

Quite right, it was $3 for the bus.

That's good to know, the $2 route. But I don't think the one dollar I'd save would be worth the extra 2+ hours just for the BWI leg of the trip.