DC Dopers: transit time from Adams Morgan to BWI?

A colleague and I will be attending a conference in the DC area in February; specifically, it’ll be held in the Adams Morgan neighbourhood, close to the National Zoo. We’re trying to figure out how many nights to book at the hotel; my colleague is giving a talk that ends at 5:30 PM on the last day of the conference (a Tuesday), and there’s a potential flight home leaving BWI at 7:55 PM that evening. It seems like it would be doable on paper if we took a cab, but I’ve also heard horror stories about DC-area traffic.

So, to those of you who have knowledge of “conditions on the ground”: Would it be feasible to get to BWI by 6:45 or 7:00? I’m assuming it would be tight, if it’s even possible, and that the added time involved in using an airport shuttle or public transport would make it impossible; is this impression correct? Or should we just pony up the extra dough to stay in DC for an extra night?


It looks like you can take the MARC train from Union Station to BWI/Marshall Ariport Station. Departs 6:05 pm, arrives 6:42 pm. It seems like a tight squeeze. Could be doable.

Anyone know how reliable the trains are? My recollection is that they’re about as consistent as commuter rail in in any big city.

I don’t recall what you do to get from the train station to the terminal. Shuttle bus?

I seriously doubt that a cab will get you from downtown DC to BWI in time. Maybe things have changed since I traveled in that corridor a few years ago.

No chance.


I doubt you would be able to make it. At 5:30 pm I would expect the train to be faster than going by cab. But even if 5:30 a hard deadline, it would be tough to make it from the Woodley Park metro station (closest to the zoo) to the Union Station metro stop, where you would then need to transfer to the MARC train by 6:05. If your conference is at the Marriott Wardman Park, that’s right next to the Woodley Park Metro. But if you’re actually in Adams Morgan, that’s a bit of a distance from the Metro stop, and you would need extra time.

If you want to go by cab, you should call ahead of time to reserve a cab pickup for BWI. (Don’t rely on hailing a cab on the street because not all DC cab drivers know how to get to BWI.)

Way too tight, not only could there be delays because of traffic. I have never once attended any kind of conference that stays on schedule. Since your friend is speaking at the end of the day, the odds are that he will start much later than expected.

I would seriously discourage it. The times are tight to begin with, but especially so if you aren’t familiar with the DC transit system, knowing where the MARC trains are in Union Station etc. Also note that you need to take a shuttle bus from the BWI train station that will add 10-30 minutes.

+1 added to “You can’t make it in that short amount of time. No way.”

Moreover, taking a cab from downtown DC to BWI would be monstrously expensive. Taking a taxi from the Greenbelt station (way out at the end of the Metro line) to BWI costs about $40 by itself. My recommendation is to take a flight later that night if one exists, say about 10 PM just to give yourself some time. Take the Red Line to Ft. Totten, then the Green Line to Greenbelt, and catch the B30 bus (a BWI express line that takes you right to the airport). It’ll probably take an hour if you time it right for about $6 total. If there are no later flights that night, your friend is probably just going to have to cough up for an extra night at the hotel.

Here’s a timetable WARNING PDF for the B30 just to help out.

Since you are staying an extra night, you can visit one of my favorite restaraunts in the city

I’ll get on the bandwagon and say it probably wouldn’t work out well. It could be done and I think you could make it with time to spare if things worked out. That said, there is a lot that could go wrong in that 2.5 hours. Plus, you would have to check out of your room before the big talk at the conference. 5:30 is not a good time for people in a hurry to get around DC.

Does the hotel have a shuttle to BWI? If so, and the schedule works, that might do it. Or maybe someone from the conference could drive you?

Under the best conditions your chance of making the flight would be about 10%.

I lived in Adams Morgan about 25 years ago. A lot has changed but the roads and Metro are still the same. The fastest way would be Woodley Park/Zoo Metro to Union Station (at least they’re both on the Red Line) to Marc Train.

Just out of curiousity, where exactly is the conference, and are you staying in the same hotel? Because if it’s near the zoo, I’m guessing it’s actually in Woodley Park, which is the next neighborhood over from Adams Morgan, but Adams Morgan sounds hipper. :slight_smile:

Thanks everyone for your input! It looks like both he and I will be staying the extra night; he because he probably won’t be able to get out of town, and myself because we’re sharing a hotel room anyhow, so I might as well stay until the next day and do a little sightseeing.

Sidney Evgeni Jordan guessed the hotel correctly, though given the price of rooms there we may end up staying at the nearby Omni, Normandy, or Windsor Park hotels. I only said the conference was in Adams Morgan because that’s what their website said — thanks to your corrections I’ll hopefully look a little less like an out-of-town rube.

The conference, if anyone is curious, is a joint meeting of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers. If Woodley Park & Adams Morgan seem to become significantly nerdier over the second weekend of February, that’s probably why.

I’ll go against the grain and say that it’s do-able. I commute from downtown DC to Annapolis daily and make it in less than an hour. BWI is in the same county but farther north.

I used to live in Adams Morgan and getting a cab there is very easy. If you hail the cab at 5:45pm you still have over two hours to get to the airport and make your 7:55pm flight.

I don’t think its doable. The best route is the BW Parkway. To get there, you have to go across the city which will take 15 to 20 minutes alone. To get there on the parkway will take anywhere from a half hour to an hour depending on traffic. While you could possibly get there if traffic isn’t bad, it most likely will be. At best, you will be cutting it incredibly close.

Ah, that’s the problem. You’re assuming a frictionless commute.

I can speak only as a tourist/business traveler, but I don’t think you’ll make it. Here’s what will happen.

Somewhere on the Metro, a train will break down and the track will be blocked. Since you’d be depending on the Red Line, the blockage will probably be between Farragut and Metro Center – just far enough away from Union Station so you can’t walk the entire distance and still make the train.

Should you choose to take a cab to BWI, you’ll find it’s raining and cabs are hard to find. Once you do find a cab it will plod through traffic slowly. Then the rain will start to freeze. Once you get to the Parkway, there will be an accident just before you get to the BWI exit, too late for the cab to take another exit and find an alternative route.

Don’t ask me how I know this will happen. But it will.

I used to live in Adams Morgan, and I think kunilou has got it right. The “can’t get there from here” problem gets worse in the winter, too. On my one cab trip from Adams Morgan to BWI, the cab driver got lost despite calling his dispatcher for directions. Figure in extra travel time and you should be fine.