The Washington Metro (commonly called Metro , and branded Metrorail ) is a rapid transit system serving Washington, D.C. and neighboring communities in Maryland and Virginia , both inside and outside the Capital Beltway . With an average weekday ridership of 748,000, the Washington Metro is the third-busiest rapid transit system in the United States , behind the Chicago "L" and the New York City Subway . [18] As of 2015, the system has 91 active stations spread out on six lines with 117 miles (188 km) of tracks. An infill station at Potomac Yard is planned to open in 2020 on the Yellow and Blue lines, and six more stations are planned in 2020 as part of the Phase II of the Silver Line . [19] [20]

The Washington Metro system was conceived as an alternative to the construction of a large freeway system throughout the Washington, D.C. area and was partially financed with funds originally dedicated to highway construction. Construction began in 1969, and in 1976 the first section of the Metro system opened along the Red Line between the Rhode Island Avenue and Farragut North stations in Washington, D.C. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, more stations were opened in the city and the suburban communities of Arlington County , the City of Alexandria , and Fairfax County in Virginia as well as Montgomery and Prince George's Counties in Maryland. By 1991, five rail lines were open: the Red, Blue , Green , Orange , and Yellow Lines. The system as originally planned was completed in 2001 with the extension of the Green Line to Branch Avenue . In 2004, three stations were opened: an extension of the Blue Line to the Largo Town Center and Morgan Boulevard stations and the first infill station , NoMa–Gallaudet U . [21] In 2014, the Silver Line opened with five new stations: Greensboro , McLean , Spring Hill , Tysons Corner , and Wiehle – Reston East . [23]

Nine Metrorail stations are officially designated transfer stations, although other intermediate stations also allow passengers to transfer between lines. Four of those stations have separate, perpendicular upper and lower levels which opened at different times. Two other transfer stations, Rosslyn and Pentagon , have parallel stacked platforms . Ten stations are termini , stations at the end of lines; several other non-terminus stations are used to short turn trains in regular service. [24]

As of May 2016, Union Station was the busiest station in the system, with an average of 28,864 passenger boardings per weekday. Nine of the top ten busiest stations are in the District of Columbia. Metro Center , a transfer point for the Blue, Orange, Silver, and Red Lines, is the busiest transfer station, with 24,160 boardings. Shady Grove in suburban Montgomery County, Maryland was the busiest terminus with 11,696 passenger boardings per weekday. [26]


There are six Washington Metro lines as of 2017. Each is named for a different color. [24] All lines except the Red Line share tracks, mostly through the downtown tunnels.

The Silver Line currently runs to Wiehle–Reston East via the Tysons Corner district as part of Phase I of its construction; Phase II will extend the Silver Line from Wiehle–Reston East to Ashburn via Dulles International Airport in 2018.

Line Ridership (May 2010) [27] Stations [24] Termini [24]
Red Line 277,741 (37%) 27 Shady Grove Glenmont
Orange Line 187,663 (25%) 26 Vienna New Carrollton
Blue Line 120,104 (16%) 27 Franconia-Springfield Largo Town Center
Green Line 105,091 (14%) 21 Branch Avenue Greenbelt
Yellow Line 59,781 (8%) 17 Huntington Mount Vernon Square (rush peak)
Fort Totten (all other times)
Silver Line N/A 28 (34 after Phase II) Wiehle–Reston East
Ashburn (2018)
Largo Town Center


Pylon by the entrance to the Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter station
Passengers boarding a train at the Bethesda station
Greenbelt station, one of the termini of the Green Line
Crossvault of the L'Enfant Plaza station
Platform of the Silver Spring station on a rainy day
Union Station, the busiest station in the system
The longest continuous escalator in the western hemisphere, at the Wheaton station [23]
Vaulted ceiling at Farragut West
Largo Town Center station, one of the newest stations
Time-lapse of a train leaving Foggy Bottom–GWU
* Official transfer stations
dagger Terminals
** Transfer station and terminal
Wiehle-Reston East station on the first day of Silver Line service in 2014

Future stations

A sign marking the planned site of the Potomac Yard station

Potomac Yard , planned to open in 2020, is to be an infill station between Braddock Road and National Airport on the Yellow and Blue lines. [19] Phase 2 of the Silver Line is tentatively planned to open in late 2019 with six new stations. When finished, the line's western terminus will be Ashburn . [20]

Station Lines Jurisdiction Projected Opening Reference
Dulles International Airport Silver Line Loudoun County, Virginia 2019 [20]
Herndon Silver Line Fairfax County, Virginia 2019 [20]
Innovation Center Silver Line Fairfax County, Virginia 2019 [20]
Potomac Yard Blue Line
Yellow Line
Alexandria, Virginia 2020 [19]
Reston Town Center Silver Line Fairfax County, Virginia 2019 [20]
Loudoun Gateway Silver Line Loudoun County, Virginia 2019 [20]
Ashburn Silver Line Loudoun County, Virginia 2019 [20]