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Metro Shutdown Alternative: Take the Water Taxi From Alexandria to DC

It's cheap, and it's a pretty nice start to the day.

All photographs by Andrew Beaujon.

It’s fair to say the summer-long Metro shutdown hasn’t gotten off to an easy start. Shuttle buses that end up in the wrong places, long lines, and unforeseen hassles have made getting between Alexandria and the District a real challenge. I usually ride my bike from my home in Del Ray to my Farragut-area office. But after hearing that Alexandria will reimburse you most of the cost of a ride on Potomac RiverBoat Company’s water taxi, I decided to give it a try.

The upfront cost is $10 for a round-trip fare between Old Town and the Wharf or $199 for a year-long pass. With the reimbursement scheme those prices drop to $2 and $100, respectively.

I boarded the 9:20 AM taxi behind the Torpedo Factory and was happy to find the boat has four spaces for bikes (that’s mine on the left, enjoying a nice view). Your seating choices are the upper deck, which was hot in port but delightfully breezy once we were under way, and the air conditioned cabin, which has a little bar that sells craft beer, wine, Starbucks bottled drinks, and light snacks. One crew member told me he’s working on getting the company to stock fancier wine than the canned rosé and pinot on offer now.

 

 

We left on time, hauled butt across the river, and slowed down when we entered Washington Channel. We disembarked at the Wharf about 25 minutes after we shoved off. I pushed my bike up the gangplank, rode the remaining two miles to my office, and got in 15 minutes later than usual—a manageable extravagance, especially when you consider that my morning was entirely shuttle-bus-free.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.