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Everything you need to know about getting around D.C. over Thanksgiving

What to expect from the changes made to the District’s Metrorail, buses, and more

Photo via Shutterstock/Christian Hinkle

Brace yourselves, Washington, D.C. This year is expected to be the most traveled Thanksgiving since 2005, making the D.C. region one of the most congested U.S. cities for driving in.

When it comes to flying, more than 28.5 million passengers are expected to travel on U.S. airlines between Friday, November 17, and Tuesday, November 28, up 3 percent from this time last year.

If you don’t have the option to stay in your home all week long, Curbed DC has you covered with information and tips compiled below. From when to get on the Metrorail to when the worst times are for driving, see what you should know below.

Driving

If you’re looking for the best and worst times for driving, avoid driving between 4:45 p.m. and 6 p.m. the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, reports FOX 5. Heavy congestion is also expected the Saturday and Sunday following Thanksgiving, thanks to drivers on their way home.

WUSA9 further reports that the best times for hitting the road are Wednesday at 3 a.m. or on Thanksgiving day at 6 a.m. When it comes to making one’s return home, do your best to leave on Friday at 4 a.m. or Sunday at 6 a.m.

The worst spots in the D.C. area for driving this week are expected to be the following:

  • I-95 S @ US-17/US-1/EXIT 126
  • MD-295 N @ I-195
  • I-95 S @ VA-234/EXIT 152
  • I-495 CW @ MD-337/ALLENTOWN RD/EXIT 9
  • MD-295 N @ MD-100
  • I-270 N @ MD-85/EXIT 31
  • I-270 N @ MD-80/EXIT 26
  • I-95 N @ MD-100/EXIT 43
  • I-95 N @ VA-123/EXIT 160
  • I-495 CW @ MD-414/ST BARNABAS RD/EXIT 4

NBC4 recommends Maryland drivers choose US-301 over the Beltway and the BW Parkway over 1-95 and Virginia drivers choose Route 1.

Metrorail and Metrobus

Both Metrorail and Metrobus will run on “holiday schedules” on Thanksgiving Day and will operate on a regular weekday schedule with normal fares on Friday, November 24. On Thanksgiving Day, the hours will be from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

On Thanksgiving Day, parking will also be free at Metro-operated facilities, save for the Largo Town Center and Morgan Boulevard facilities due to an expected football game.

Following Thanksgiving, regular weekend schedules will remain in effect with one exception: no Red Line trains will operate between the Silver Spring and Fort Totten Metro stations between Saturday, November 25 through Sunday, December 10. During this time frame, the Takoma station will also be closed.

Flying

Be sure to arrive at least two hours ahead of any domestic flight and three hours before an international flight as this holiday season is expected to be very crowded.

With data from the Transportation Security Administration, Patch reports that these are the peak travel times with the longest waits:

  • Saturday, 6 to 8 a.m. and 1 to 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, 6 to 8 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Monday, 5 to 8 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m.
  • Tuesday, 6 to 8 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.
  • Wednesday, 6 to 8 a.m. and 4 to 5 p.m.
  • Thursday, 5 to 8 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Friday, 5 to 8 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.

Last-minute tips

Get yourself an E-ZPass (or make sure the information is up to date). To get one in person, check this website if you’re in Maryland and this website if you’re in Virginia.

Finally, be sure to leave the phone alone while driving. It’s illegal to text while driving in Maryland and Virginia. It’s also, you know, super dangerous.