Today we complete our thrilling series of discussions about DC area airports with a discussion of the logistics of Thurgood Marshall International Airport (Baltimore-Washington).
The airport has recently been renamed for Thurgood Marshall, the first African American appointed as a justice to the US Supreme court. It is BWI on your luggage tag. This is really the airport for Baltimore, but you may end up using it because you get a cheaper fare. Do not be deceived by the use of "Washington" in its name. Interestingly, the website for the airport is not forthcoming about its actual distance from Washington--one can assume it is because the airport really does not really want you to know. So, DC Like a Local went to google maps and came up with rougly 35 miles. Logistically, it can be the most difficult of the airports from which to get to downtown DC—especially if you arrive on a weekend.
Metrobus #B30 runs from the airport to the Greenbelt Metro Station. Fare is $3.10. When you get to the Metro, hop on the Green Line and take Metro to DC. The only problem is that the B30 runs every 40 minutes. I did try and confirm the schedule with Metro, but had persistent trouble doing so, so I am relying on memory here. You can check the schedule online or use NextBus. If the bus just left, you can have a very long wait. There are two Metro bus stops at BWI, both on the lower level. Think of the airport as a giant "U"; they are at either end of the U.
If you arrive during the week, you can take the shuttle bus from BWI to the train station and hop on a MARC commuter train. These trains run frequently during the week, but not at all on the weekend. Fare is $6.00 one way to Union Station. Look for the shuttle busses to the BWI train station on the lower level.
On the weekends, if you do not take Metrobus #B30, your only choice will be Amtrak. You take the bus to the train station just as you would to pick up the MARC train. One way fare from BWI to Union Station in DC on Amtrak can vary. It will be more than double what MARC charges and service is relatively infrequent. Check the times of the trains with Amtrak when you make your airline reservations to be certain you do not head over to the train station and wait a very long time, for the money, it can't be beat. Metro fare to downtown (using the Farragut West Station as the point of arrival) is $2.35 in the non rush hour and $3.80 in the rush hour. If you want to calculate the fare yourself to your specific destination, go to Metro's fare finder. When you get to the site, just click on any station, by the way, and information will be there for the station including an option to calculate fares.
Whether you take MARC or Amtrak, you may take the train to either New Carrollton or Union Station. While Union Station is in DC proper and closer to downtown, it is only on the Red line. You may wish to get off to New Carrollton if your plans include the Orange line, and save yourself a transfer.
The other options are the Super Shuttle. Taxi fare to downtown DC is estimated at $90.00 (ouch!) The Taxi Fare Finder site gives an estimated fare of $67.50 including the tip (using the Penn Quarter in DC as the point of destination)--a veritable bargain!
If you are going to use Thurgood Marshall/BWI, make certain that the savings on your airline ticket is not eclipsed on what you will pay to get into DC. We at DC Like a Local have heard plenty of stories here. If you are arriving during the work week, however, you should have no problems if you take the MARC train. But on weekends, look out!
We know we sound like a broken record, but please note that all fares can change and taxi fares may depend on the traffic at the time of the day when you arrive.