Tuesday afternoon the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) celebrated the expansion and opening of the silver line extension, including direct metro rail service to the Washington Dulles International (IAD) airport.
The ride to Dulles IAD from Eastern Market Metro clocked in at just over an hour—64 minutes station to station— with about another five minute walk along the half-mile tunnel to the airport.
That’s about 20 minutes longer than the best driving time— but best driving times are rare. The cost deducted from your SmarTrip card is only about $3.85 off-peak and is capped at $6 —comparing very favorably to ride share, taxi or fees for parking on site.
One woman took the first train to Dulles to catch a flight. Reddit transit fans recounted that when asked for advice, she said, “stand to the right!” Transit riders cheered her as she exited the car.
Customers were greeted by joyous metro employees at the six new rail stations. WMATA pennants and other small commemorative items, including a 60 Year anniversary materials, were distributed to customers at the new stations.
The extension includes six new stations: Ashburn, Loudoun Gateway, Washington Dulles International Airport, Innovation Center, Herndon and Reston Town Center. WMATA metro rail service now includes 97 stations on a 128-mile system throughout Virginia, Maryland and the District.
Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Randy Clarke, US Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other federal, state and local officials attended the grand opening ceremony at the new Washington Dulles International Airport Station.
Clarke spoke about the excitement surrounding the completion of the extension project and its many benefits for residents of the DMV.
“The completion of the Silver Line means a better, greener more affordable way to get to work, school, shopping, entertainment and events, as well as easy access to Washington Dulles International Airport, a gateway to the world,” Clarke said. “As one of the largest construction projects in the United States, the Silver Line provides high-quality, high-capacity transit service between the Dulles corridor, Downtown DC and Prince George’s County, Maryland.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke about the Silver Line extension’s impact on travel for both residents and visitors to the District.
“As we continue to bring visitors back to Washington, DC, this extension of the Silver Line is a game changer for our city and region — one that opens up new possibilities for travel and business,” Bowser said. “Dulles was already known for the many direct flights it offers to and from destinations across the country and around the world, and now we finally have a direct and convenient connection from Dulles to downtown DC.”
Many excited travelers and DMV residents gathered outside the airport terminal taking photos of the new station, rides on the new routes and selfies with the WMATA commemorative memorabilia.
Michael Marks, a Silver Spring resident, said he has been waiting since 2019 to try out the new service. He emphasized the benefits of reliable public transportation to access airports as an alternative to the more expensive, less environmentally friendly alternatives of ride share and parking.
“I think being able to come here on the metro, even though it’s a long ride, [is great],” Marks said, “It saves a lot of money.”
Marks said he also visits the Udvar-Hazy Center often, a trip that will be made simpler through use of the extension.
Sarah Payne is a general assignment reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.