Vacation Planning Tips for Using Public Transportation in DC, Boston, New York, San Francisco or Atlanta

If destinations like San Francisco, Washington DC, Boston, Atlanta or New York City are in your future you will likely factor in the use of public transportation before planning your travel. Below are some basic FAQ on each system, and tips for staying outside of the city to save on hotel costs.

Airport Access & Ride Time to City Center

  • DC Metro – ~$3.00 fair for adults. No transferring necessary. 15 minute ride time. Only connects with Reagan National Airport, will connect with Dulles in the future.
  • SF BART – ~$8.50 fair for adults. No transfers. 30 minute ride time. The BART connects directly with SFO. Oakland Airport does not connect directly and travelers will need to take a shuttle to the BART which costs $3.00. Ride time from OAK to downtown SF will take about 35 minutes.
  • Boston T – The T nor Boston Commuter Rail does not connect directly with Logan airport. There is a free shuttle that runs to South station.
  • Atlanta MARTA – The MARTA has a dedicated station that connects with all major gates. Ride time into downtown Atlanta is 15 minutes, and costs $2.50.
  • NYC / Newark Airport – The NJ Transit System connects with Newark Airport. The NJ Transit can take riders all the way to Penn Station, or to the Newark city station where the PATH connects.

Hours of Operation & Train Frequency

  • Washington METRO, Atlanta MARTA, San Francisco BART, BOSTON T: For each of these systems trains typically run 20 minutes apart and accelerate during rush hour. Trains leave their home stations usually around 5AM. At night it is wise to get to the METRO, BART, T or MARTA prior to 12AM in order to catch a returning train.
  • Boston Commuter Rail: Trains start up a little after 5AM. As for late night usage on weekdays its best to be at your station a little before 12AM, on weekends be at your station around 10:30PM. Trains only run every 2 hours.
  • NJ PATH: This is the primary system for moving in and our of Manhattan to NJ. Trains run 24 hrs.

Access to Tourist Hubs

  • DC Metro: – The National Mall including the Monuments and major Smithsonian Museums can be accessed by the Smithsonian station. The metro has a station in the middle of the National Mall. The National Mall is about 2 miles long between the Lincoln Monument and Capital Building. The National Zoo is four blocks away from the Adam’s Morgan station. As for sporting events, the Navy Yard station is 3 blocks from the Nationals Ballpark, Fedex Field has a station within about a mile of the stadium and The Verizon Center is steps from the Chinatown station.
  • Boston T: Fenway Park is off the Green line. The Freedom trail starts within a few blocks of North station. Boston’s Greenway Park can be access from North or South station, along this stretch are several top tourist destinations.
  • Atlanta MARTA: The Arts Center station is the destination for the major cultural attractions in Atlanta. Turner field where the Braves play cannot be accessed without help from a shuttle. The Georgia Dome is a short walk off the Vine City station. Olympic Park is located downtown off the Peachtree exit.
  • NJ PATH / NJ to NYC Ferry: Riders can get to the World Trade Center, and within 10 blocks of Times Square with the PATH system. Ferries are helpful for accessing the Statue of Liberty and leave from either NJ or New York.
  • SF BART: Fisherman’s Wharf does not have a BART station nearby, so riders must take the Muni from the Embarcadero station or use the famous cable cars. The BART will connect riders to Oakland and Berkeley if they wish to check out those areas, and it will pass by many of the art museums and cultural attractions in downtown San Francisco’s Civic Center neighborhood. The Bart fails to connect riders close to the Golden Gate Bridge, or Golden Gate Park. SF Chinatown can be accessed with several blocks of the Montgomery Bart Station. The Oakland As stadium has a station nearby, the 49ers and Giants don’t have a station close to Bart System.

Saving on Hotels Outside of the City with Train Access

  • Atlanta MARTA: The best stations outside downtown Atlanta for commuting into downtown is the Sandy Springs / Dunwoody station north of Atlanta. There are several hotels near either station and easy to access off I-75 or I-85. The Kensington station east of Atlanta is also a good option. At either station anticipate finding hotels between $80 and $150 per night. Read more about hotels outside of Atlanta on our sister site.
  • San Francisco BART: Travelers coming from I-5 or west on I-80 will appreciate the West Dublin / Dublin station. Both stations have a variety of hotel options within walking distance to the BART platform. Expect to find hotels between $100 and $175 per night. Ride time into downtown San Francisco will take about 50 minutes. Read more about hotels outside San Francisco at our sister site.
  • Boston T & Commuter Rail: The Boston T and Commuter Rail systems have a few options for staying outside of the city. The Dedham station along I-95 south of Boston is probably the best choice. There hotel prices range from $150 to $175 per night. The Commuter rail station is only a few blocks away. Another choice is the Anderson station north of Boston off I-93. Get to know all the options for hotels outside of Boston at our sister site.
  • Washington DC Metro: There are a number of options for staying outside DC. The most popular is the Courtyard off the Dunn Loring station. This is west along I-66. Travelers also appreciate the Courtyard on the other side of DC at the New Carrollton station. This Courtyard is convenient to I-495. See more on hotels outside of DC.
  • NJ PATH: Those who want a hotel under $120 per night with train access to NYC should look into the Ramada near Jersey City. The hotel is 3 blocks from the PATH. Travelers who want to stay out of any NYC traffic and are coming west on I-80 should look into the NJ Transit station of Mt. Arlington. Read more about hotels outside of NYC near NJ at our sister site.

Research & Written by Jeff Howard