I will be travaling to Washington DC for 6 days, and trying to figure out how to best get around in the city. I very much like the idea of not having to worry about buying tickets for each single trip, but to instead to simply "hop on, hop off" while exploring the city.

I found the following website that describes the passes available for the public transport system, and I am looking at the 7-day passes in particular: https://www.wmata.com/fares/farecard-options.cfm

However, I could not figure out if metro rail and metro bus are completely separate systems when it comes to the 7-day pases. If I want to ride metro AND bus, do I need both 7-day passes? Or does the more expensive one (rail) also cover bus trips?

Thanks, Thomas

  • 2
    Note you can also use the SmarTrip cards in a "stored value" mode, where you load some money on the card and each trip deducts from your stored balance. That would also save you from having to buy a new ticket for each individual trip, and it might be cheaper depending on how much you plan to travel. Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 22:28
  • Thank you @Nate-Eldredge I appreciate your suggestion. But, to figure out if it might be worth paying individual trips, vs. buying a pass, I would want to know if I would need to buy one of the 7-day passes, or both of them (rail + bus)
    – Thomas
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 22:47
  • 1
    The page you link includes a description explaining what each pass is good for. Some are Metrorail only, some are Metrobus only, some are Metrorail or Metrobus up to a certain amount, some are both Metrorail and Metrobus up to a certain amount. Generally, I think most tourists are better off with a little planning and regular stored value deduction as opposed to a pass.
    – choster
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 23:03

2 Answers 2


Metro is expensive if you're paying full-fare for each trip. If you are taking multiple trips per day for six days, it would definitely make sense to get a pass.

According to the page you linked, the "7-Day Fast Pass" and the "7-Day Short Trip Pass" are both valid on Metrorail only. Metro offers a "7-Day Regional Bus Pass" that you could conceivably add on to your Fast Pass.

But do you even need to take a bus? The subway system is pretty extensive (if sometimes undependable), and services most of the downtown and tourist areas. It also goes pretty far out to the suburbs. The bus network is mostly for commuters, and fills in the places that Metrorail doesn't service. You didn't say where you'll be staying, nor where you're planning on going, so it's hard to answer definitively.

Also, be aware that if you park your car in a Metro parking lot, you will also need either a SmarTrip card or a credit card to pay for parking. Check Metro's site for your particular station to see if credit cards are accepted at the lot.

  • 1
    "Also, be aware that if you park your car in a Metro parking lot, you will also need your SmarTrip card to pay for parking." that is no longer true, mostly. WMATA added credit card readers to most stations on exit. See their site for details on which stations have credit card reading at exit. The is useful for passes as passes cannot be used to exit garage.
    – vcsjones
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 22:18
  • Thanks, @vcsjones, I've updated my answer to indicate that credit cards are also accepted. Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 13:30

To answer the precise question on the 7 days (rail and bus) passes:

7 day passes do not cover bus and rail. They are separate.

7-Day regional bus pass is valid for city and express buses (extra cost for express buses). 7-Day Fast Pass $60.00 is for metrorail only; 7-Day Short Trip Pass: $38.50 is for metrorail only; unlimited for trips costing $3.85 only;

You need a SmarTrip® card to ride Metrorail. To enter the system using a SmarTrip® card, simply tap the card on the target on the entry faregate.

To answer the overall question on how best to get around in Washington DC:

Circulator buses: 1 $ (operate on central routes - such as Union Station to Georgetown)

Metro Buses: 2$ for single trip; download "Next bus" app; gives you just in time arrival info for all bus stops;

ride share apps: Lyft, Uber, Via;

dockless e-scooter apps: Lime, Bird, Skip, Spin (dockless means you can leave them anywhere without locking them to a post)

Electric bike: Jump

bike shares: Capital bikes (they are red and have many stations, easy to use)

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    Hi Webertraveler, welcome to the site. This might be good general travel advice, but it doesn't answer the question asked here, which is specifically about 7-day transit passes. This site isn't like traditional discussion forums; we are looking for focused questions and answers. I suggest reading travel.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer to learn more. Commented Dec 1, 2018 at 13:38
  • @nateeldredge; Thank you for your constructive feedback. Commented Dec 1, 2018 at 14:07
  • Welcome @Webertraveler, good edit, meets the norm now.
    – Willeke
    Commented Dec 1, 2018 at 14:09

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