Some might suppose that because the Baltimore/Washington Airport lies outside the safe familiarity of DC’s Metro rail and bus system, it’s the least convenient of DC’s airport trinity. But that’s simply not the case: thankfully, Amtrak’s train lines have saved travelers from having to fret about venturing into the wild jungles of Maryland.
Already know the Metro stop nearest to you? Good, because that’s all you need to embark on an easy, breezy trip from DC to BWI, or BWI to Washington DC.
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When it comes to public transportation, your most reliable service traveling from DC to BWI will be the MARC.
The good news: The convenient Penn Line will take you directly from Washington’s Union Station to the airport, hitting New Carrollton, another Metro stop, on the way.
It’s easy to get to to Union Station from most starting points within Washington’s city limits; it’s right on the red line, which you can catch from either Metro Center or Gallery Place, depending on where you’re coming from.
Alternatively, you could always take an Uber, Lyft, or taxi to Union Station, although you can expect likely traffic snags around the drop-off circle, especially around holidays and heavy travel times. Either way, make sure you leave at least 30 minutes in Union Station to be safe (which won’t be hard with the excellent food and shopping options!)
Once you arrive, walk straight through the absolutely stunning colonnade entrance; the MARC leaves from the street level of the station. MARC tickets are available at any AMTRAK ticket counter, or at one of the Amtrak Quick Ticket machines located throughout the station. The one way fare is just $8, although buying a ticket on board will cost you an additional $5.
New Carrollton Station
Alternatively, you can pick up the MARC from New Carrollton station in Maryland, which is also the easternmost stop of the Orange Metro line. Orange trains can be picked up from Metro Center, L’Enfant Plaza, or Rosslyn in Virginia. A trip from New Carrollton to BWI will cost a dollar less, at $7.
MARC trains depart between every half hour to every hour on weekdays, and about every 2 hours on weekends. I recommend checking the timetables on the Maryland MTA’s website to find your train’s time beforehand. The trip will take around 35 minutes, less on a good day.
Now for the slightly bad news: you’ll have to catch a shuttle to get from the BWI rail station to the airport itself.
Baltimore airport Shuttle Service
Luckily, the Baltimore Airport operates a nonstop shuttle service between the two 24 hours a day. After you reach BWI Airport Amtrak station, walk straight out of the train area towards the parking garage. You can’t miss the overhead signs for the red and white Amtrak/MARC Shuttle. Best of all, they are free to ride!
The shuttle stops in front of every airline, so it will drop you off exactly where you need to go to check in.
If you’re traveling the opposite direction back to DC, you can catch the shuttle from the ground transportation level just outside of baggage claim, specifically outside doors 1, 8, and 17.
Amtrak DC to BWI via the Northeast Line
The other rail-based option is to catch Amtrak’s Northeast line, which runs all the way from Roanoke to Boston, stopping at Union Station, New Carrollton, and the BWI Airport station on the way.
Northeast tickets are most easily booked on the website or over the phone in advance to be certain of timetables and dates, although they are also available on the day of at any Amtrak sales counter or Quick Ticket machine in any of the three stations. A seat in coach from either Union Station or New Carrollton usually costs $14 at minimum, while a business class seat costs at least $30, usually more.
The Northeast Regional will also offer more amenities, including WiFi, comfier seating, and a cafe car offering drinks, snacks, and sandwiches.
Trains depart around every 30 minutes to an hour. Make sure you check the timetable before your trip, as departure times vary from day to day.
BWI still accommodates plenty of offerings when it comes to express shuttle services.
GO The Airport Shuttle
One option is GO The Airport Shuttle, which offers rides in either a shared shuttle or private sedan from a destination of your choice right up to your airline’s drop off point. You can book a ride in advance, either on the website or over the phone. Be forewarned that prices run high, over $100 for a one way trip.
Super Shuttle Express
Super Shuttle Express is another service offering rides directly from any pick up location to the Baltimore airport. A nonstop ride from DC, which seats up to three people, will run around $50-$70, depending on the day and demand.
Both shuttle services will give a price quote on their websites.
Get directions to drive from BWI to DC
As always, Uber and Lyft are also reliable options to get to the airport for a comparable cost. A ride from central DC to BWI will also run around $50-70, again varying on the day.
Expect the drive to the airport from DC to take at least 50 minutes, an hour to be safe. Also keep an eye out for rush hour, which for a trip to BWI would be around 4 pm to 7 pm on weekdays when traffic flows out of the city.
If you have the choice, I recommend opting for a train, as it will get you there faster and traffic worry-free, all for a lower price.