• Transit Subsidy Program - The Department of State Human Resources WorkLife Division offers METROCHECK, a transit subsidy program for those who commute regularly using public transportation. For more information, visit: the Work Life Division Intranet or contact Non-State returnees should contact their agencies for information on similar programs.
  • Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority provides maps of Metro services, plus online directions to get from one address to another.
  • Regional bus lines (Fairfax Connector, ART in Arlington, etc.) have separate websites. Get the names by using the WMATA site, then search for additional information online.
  • Local train services include Virginia Railway Express and Maryland's MARC.
  • Carpools and Sluglines - Ride Share and Sluglines. Also see Commuter Connections..
  • Commuter Connections - Discusses all of the various ways to travel around the Washington, DC, area. Carpools are also advertised on bulletin boards and on the OpenNet at the State Department.


  • Metro train lines are tagged by color names (e.g. orange line, blue line). When standing on a train platform, you will notice that different color trains might use the same track. Be careful! Trains are labeled by the ultimate destination (e.g., Vienna - orange line, Shady Grove - red line).
  • Rush hour (or as Metro says “peak”) fares cover a substantial part of the day – double check the price until you are familiar with hours and fares. Prices are generally listed on the attendant’s booth.
  • Some Metro machines take credit cards. Machines will not give you more than $5 in change, so you need smaller bills to purchase your fares. (Don’t try to take Metro with only $20 bills in your pockets unless you want to buy a higher value ticket).
  • To park in a Metro lot, you must purchase a SmartTrip card, which costs $5 for the card alone. The money you add to the card can be used for Metro travel as well as for parking.
  • You need to swipe your ticket at the beginning AND the end of your Metro journey. With a paper ticket, the machine will retain it once you have used the whole value; it will be returned to you if it still holds value. You can add money to this card or add its value to a future SmarTrip card.
  • If you will be taking a bus, you will have to either pay in cash as you board the bus or use a SmarTrip card. The cash fare for a normal bus ride is $1.80. With the SmarTrip it’s only $1.60 plus it’s free to transfer from bus to bus. Transferring from the bus to metro or vice-versa with the SmarTrip card is reduced by 50¢ as opposed to paying the full bus fare if you are paying in cash. For more information on fares visit Metro Bus Fares.



  • Highway 495 and parts of I-95 form the “Beltway.”
  • The lanes closest to DC are called the “inner loop,” while the lanes on the outside are called the “outer loop.”
  • The “mixing bowl” describes the area where 95 N, 395 N, and 495 meet, near Springfield, VA.

HOV = High Occupancy Vehicle

  • At certain times of the day, it can be faster to drive downtown than to take Metro, depending on where you live. Rush hour traffic, however, can add significant time to your commute.
  • Information on HOV lanes in Virginia.
  • At certain hours on weekdays, all of Highway 66 inside the Beltway requires 2 passengers and 395 North requires 3 people.
  • Other roads, including 267 (the Dulles toll road) have HOV lanes.
  • In some cases, hybrid vehicles are permitted to use HOV lanes or roads.
  • Maryland has HOV lanes on I-270 and US 50. More information.


  • Major roads can connect in strange ways. For example, 395N and 66W officially connect by going through the Pentagon North parking lot!
  • Many roads have multiple names: King Street/Route 7/Leesburg Pike and Route 50/Arlington Boulevard/Lee Jackson Highway, to name two. Sometimes they are referred to by name (Fairfax County Parkway) and sometimes by number (7100).
  • Use your GPS when new to the Washington, DC area. It might prevent getting lost in an unfamiliar area of town.


Parking downtown can be difficult to find and expensive. For example, it costs over $20 per day at Columbia Plaza (23rd and E Street NW), a popular parking garage. Street parking is sometimes available during the day, so take quarters for meters. You may be ticketed for parking at a broken meter. Parking garages may let you park even if full if you’ll agree to leave your keys with the official, uniformed attendant. With internet, it is possible to search for a parking garage near to your destination. For more information about purchasing a parking pass for Department of State employees, contact the Parking Office responsible for your work location.


Be careful to bring ALL of the required paperwork when trying to get a license. You will need an official form of identification, and you may need a letter addressed to you at your new location, rental lease or proof of purchase, and much more. Check these websites for the appropriate documents. More information.

This information is provided FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY and in no way constitutes an endorsement, expressed or implied, by the Department of State. Links to websites outside the U.S. federal government or the use of trade, firm, or corporation names are for the convenience of the user and do not constitute an official endorsement or approval of any private sector website, product, or service.

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