With Hurricane Irma now past us, I am gradually resuming my normal posts. With that, it’s about that time that I continue my series on my recent trip to New York City. In this episode, I will briefly describe my layover in Washington D.C.’s Ronald Reagan National Airport, as well as why you’ll likely never see me on board a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) subway train.
So in departing from Tampa, everything was smooth sailing! My flight departed on time and had no issues whatsoever. The only downside was that WiFi service on board the plane was not complimentary like some airlines. However, I made due with scratch paper and a pen to conjure a fictional bus schedule on, so it wasn’t all that bad.
Upon arrival in Washington D.C., I didn’t have a whole lot of time to take photos of the terminal or really get a good glimpse of the complex being that I only had about 45 minutes to connect between terminals for my flight to New York’s LaGuardia Airport (my flight arrived at 11:10am and my connecting flight began boarding at 12-noon). I also needed to grab a quick bite to eat for lunch, so each second counted.
Despite the relatively small footprint of the existing terminal, getting from one terminal to the next was bit more challenging then I thought. My arriving flight was in Terminal C and my connecting flight was in Terminal B, right across the tarmac. However, to get between terminals, one would have to exit into the main terminal area, and then go through security again to enter the adjoining concourse. Now since each airline is pretty much self-contained at their respective terminal, crossing from one terminal to another doesn’t happen as much. However, American Airlines is the only airline at the airport that has a presence in both Terminals B and C, so you can see how this can become a problem.
Fortunately, AA realizes this conundrum and provides a complimentary terminal connection shuttle so that its passengers can quickly get between Terminals B and C without having to exit and re-enter through security. This cuts down on connection time and lessens hassles. While locating the gate area where I could catch the shuttle was a bit hard to find, once I got down to the shuttle boarding area, the rest of my time at Reagan National was a breeze! The shuttle bus ride only took about 3 minutes to complete and I was able to snag a quick lunch at one of the Asian eateries in Terminal B. After my meal, I proceeded to the boarding area, as there was only a few minutes left before the next boarding call.
While I mainly use the OneBusAway smartphone app in the Tampa Bay region for HART and PSTA, the app does work in Washington D.C. for the WMATA Metrobus system, as the agency uses OBA for bus tracking. The desktop interface in fact, is the “Enterprise” version that HART, PSTA, and the New York MTA use. WMATA brands its bus tracker as “busETA”.
So while eating lunch, I tried to capture a couple of WMATA’s bus routes on the OBA app. However, my signal wasn’t very strong and I was only able to screenshot a bus traveling on Route 23B, which traverses nearby the airport. The bus fleet number indicates that the bus that was shown in the screen capture is a 2015 New Flyer XN40 (40′ CNG). WMATA’s bus fleet comprises of New Flyer buses, as well as some Orion and NABI buses (the latter two were purchased by New Flyer).
Now looking at the schedule on WMATA’s website, the 23 is actually split into three segments: A, B, & T. Each segment serves specific parts of the line during specific trips. If you’re not careful with which trip you’re boarding, you may end up missing your connection or having to transfer to another segment to complete your trip.
The Dreaded Metro (Subway)
While the New York City Subway has its many downsides, I’m always willing to risk my commute there because I love the NYC transit system too much to allow problematic commutes stop me from capturing awesome photos and experiences. However, the D.C. subway system has had some recent problems that have proven to be too much for me to want to endure – specifically several fires that weren’t handled very well (most notably the fire incident at L’Enfant Plaza). In addition, WMATA’s subway railcar problems seem to be worse off than NYC’s. Until WMATA gets its act together, I’m very wary of stepping aboard a subway train in D.C.