The DC area is known for many things – its rich history, plentiful cultural opportunities, fabulous architecture, abundant restaurants and bars, and….horrendous commutes. The DC area consistently appears in nationwide “worst traffic” and “worst commute” rankings. The average commute time in DC is over 32 minutes, according to WTOP. Add in bad weather, congestion or construction and that number can easily double. However, commuting from Alexandria to DC is one of the best possible commutes in the area.
With such a high percentage of the federal workforce located in DC (approximately 14% of 280,000 people), there are A LOT of people heading downtown every day. This number doesn’t even include those workers that support and interact with the government! While many government agency and private sector employers have moved to the suburbs, a very large number of people are making the commute to the District each workday.
Naturally, the further you live out from the District the longer (and more painful!) your commute will be. Check out this great map from the Washington Post for a visual.
Alexandria’s proximity to DC is one of the main reasons so many househunters are drawn to the area (of course, we adore its charm, walkability, history, and strong community vibe, but that’s the topic of another article). So here, we’ve tried to break down what you can expect when commuting from Alexandria to DC, plus some insider tips.
AVERAGE TIME FOR COMMUTING FROM ALEXANDRIA TO DC
If you’re new to Alexandria, we’ve outlined what you can expect in terms of commute times from some of the city’s most popular neighborhoods to the main work destinations in DC.
INSIDER TIPS FOR COMMUTING FROM ALEXANDRIA TO DC
TAKE THE EXPRESS BUS
Check out the express 11Y bus offered by WMATA. The route starts near Mount Vernon and makes just a few stops (including Old Town) on its way into DC, where it makes stops along 14th, Eye and 19. Regular riders love this option!
STAY NORTH OF MOUNT VERNON
As a general rule of thumb if you’re commuting from Alexandria to DC, focus your househunt north of the Mount Vernon Circle. While the area just south of the circle is lovely, we hear time and again that living past the circle adds a lot of extra time to the daily commute.
DON’T LOOK AT MILEAGE TO DC
Try not to think about commuters in terms of mileage to DC. Look instead at your distance from the main commuter route that will bring you to DC. For example, Seminary Ridge is on the southwest end of Alexandria City but is one of the closest neighborhoods to both Interstates 395 and 495. You may be drawn to charming Beverly Hills at the north end of Alexandria, but if you’re home is on the easternmost side far from 395, your commute may be longer than if you lived further west or south but closer to the Interstate.
ASK ABOUT FLEX WORK
Always ask your employer about working a flexible schedule and/or options for telecommuting. Both are very common practices in the DC area, especially for federal employees. Commuting from Alexandria to DC at a slightly off-peak time can make a world of difference. Also, being able to telework on high volume traffic days (such as fall Mondays when there’s a home Redskins game), can be a lifesaver.
If you live in the Fairfax County section of Alexandria, you may want to explore “slugging” from the nearby Springfield Mall. This phenomenon, which is essentially carpooling with a rotation of other commuters to gain access to the HOV lanes, is unique to the DC area and people use it as their regular means of commuting.
CONSIDER BIKING TO WORK
Biking is serious business in the DC area. Many people regularly bike to work along our area’s many trails like the Washington & Old Dominion Trail in Northern Virginia and Fairfax County’s Mount Vernon Trail. Biking to work from Alexandria is a great option from those neighborhoods close to the trails like Belle Haven, Waynewood, Old Town, and Del Ray. It’s very common for DC area workplaces to offer bicycle storage and a place to showers at work. Why not get your exercise while avoiding traffic?
MAIN COMMUTING ROUTES FROM ALEXANDRIA TO DC
- Drivers have the option to use the Express Lanes with an EZ-Pass flex transponder. This means they can pay to use the express lanes if they have less then three people in their vehicle, or if they have three or more people in the car they can ride for free in the Express Lanes when they switch their transponder to HOV. Prices on the Express Lanes are dictated by the flow of traffic.
- Click here to see where you can enter the Express Lanes.
Route 1 / Richmond Highway
- HOV 2+ in effect northbound from 7-9am
- HOV 2+ in effect southbound from 4-6pm
George Washington Parkway
- No trucks allowed
- No HOV options
- Can get clogged in Old Town and by National Airport/14th Street Bridge
- 14th Street Bridge – 395/George Washington Parkway/Pentagon to Mall (Washington Monument)
- Memorial Bridge – Arlington to Mall (Lincoln Memorial)
- Roosevelt Bridge – Interstate 66 to Mall (Lincoln Memorial)
- Key Bridge – Rosslyn to Georgetown
- Metrobus – serves the entire Metro area.
- Dash Bus – Alexandria routes only but connects to Metro stops that will take you into DC
- Check out the Metro Subsidy for Military and Federal Workers
- Virginia Railway Express – stops in Old Town, Crystal City; DC stops at L’Enfant Plaza and Union Station
- Amtrak – stops in Old Town; DC stop at and Union Station
If you’d like to learn more about living in Alexandria, please contact us. We’d love to give you one of our customized neighborhood orientation tours so you can get to know our city and get a sense for what it’s like to live here.
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