This post compares the different airport transfer options for travel between downtown Washington, DC, and Baltimore/Washington International Airport.
We have ordered the various transportation options from cheapest to most expensive with some analysis of each option to help you choose which one is best for you.
How do I get from DCA to BWI? Take the Blue Line to Metro Center or take the Yellow Line to Gallery Place. At either stop, switch to the Red line and take it to Union Station. From Union Station, take either the MARC or an Amtrak to the BWI Thurgood Marshall train station. Take the free shuttle from the station to the airport.
MARC and Amtrak trains from BWI to DC
Though BWI is not as convenient as DCA/National Airport (Reagan), there are still many easy ways to travel from BWI into the city.
Taking the train from BWI to downtown DC is probably the most popular public transportation option.
Both regional (Amtrak) trains and suburban commuter (MARC) trains to connect BWI to Union Station, DC.
From the BWI train station, the airport offers free and frequent shuttles to get to the terminal.
The shuttles run 24/7 at 6-minute intervals (except 1 am-5 am when it is 25 minutes)
What is the name of the train station at BWI? The Amtrak station is called BWI Thurgood Marshall.
MARC is an easy and efficient way to travel between Baltimore and DC. Many use the Penn Line for transport to and from BWI airport.
- Trains depart from Union Station and make 4 additional stops before arriving at BWI.
- The total length of the journey from DC to BWI is approximately 35 minutes.
- Weekday trains run very frequently as so many commuters utilize the Penn Line. The first train departs from BWI at 4:40 am and the first from Union Station departs at 5:50. Trains continue to run every 20 minutes during rush hour and then every hour during the rest of the day until 9:30 and 10:30 pm, when the last trains depart from BWI and Union Station, respectively.
- Saturday trains run between 9 am - 10 pm and depart every hour during rush hour and every few hours throughout midday.
- Sunday trains run even more infrequently, with only 6 departures from either BWI or Union Station throughout the day.
One-way fares cost just $8 each way (as of January 2023) and can be purchased from Amtrak Quik-Trak ticket vending machines or the ticket office.
Passengers may also purchase tickets on the train with cash from the conductor, however, there is a $5 surcharge added to the price of the ticket.
Pros: Quick, efficient, and affordable. The MARC is extremely reliable and very cheap as long as tickets are purchased at the station before boarding the train.
Cons: Weekend trains run somewhat irregularly, especially on Sundays. Sometimes passengers will have to wait several hours before the next train departs. Also, there is no late-night service.
Amtrak also has a train that runs from the BWI Marshall Rail Station to Union Station in DC.
Free shuttle service is provided between the airport and the BWI Rail Station.
The cost of an Amtrak train ticket from BWI to Union Station varies depending on the time of your travel, but expect to pay between $15 - $45 for a one-way ticket.
Tickets purchased at the last minute or during rush hour are typically much more expensive.
Passengers can also choose between 3 different types of tickets: Saver, Value, and Flexible.
- Saver, the cheapest option, is non-refundable and does not recognize discounts for students, senior citizens, or AAA members.
- Value tickets allow refunds in certain situations and do recognize all discount programs.
- Flexible is 100% refundable and also recognizes discount programs.
The length of the journey on Amtrak is between 21-27 minutes, making this the fastest way for guests to travel between BWI and Union Station.
Trains depart every 10 - 60 minutes, depending on the time of day. The first train departs at 3 am, while the last depart at 10 pm.
Some Amtrak trains do not allow passengers to bring any checked bags, so be sure to check baggage allowance according to your needs.
Visit the Amtrak website to book tickets in advance!
Pros: Very fast and efficient service. Amtrak is the quickest transportation service between BWI and Washington, DC.
Cons: Though it is possible to find reasonably priced Amtrak tickets, this is often one of the more expensive ways to travel.
Metro Trains between DC and BWI Airport
The Metro is Washington DC's subway system and it's the most convenient way to get around the city.
While there is not a direct connection to BWI to/from DC via the Metro, it's not hard to access some Metro stations from the airport if you're willing to transfer.
The MARC train discussed above can connect you to the DC Metro system via two stations.
New Carrollton Station
You can take the MARC train to reach New Carrollton Metro Station (Orange Line) if you're looking to access an Orange Line station. This is the easternmost station and is actually in Maryland.
It's an easy transfer from the MARC train to the Metro train at New Carrollton.
You can take the Orange Line to get to Metro Center, L'Enfant Plaza, Rosslyn.
MARC trains will also get you to Union Station on the Red Line in downtown DC.
Taking a Metro Bus from DC to BWI
The closest Metro station to BWI is Greenbelt on the Green line and there used to be a MetroBus to connect to BWI.
Unfortunately, the B30 (BWI Express) is no longer operating.
One thing to keep in mind when using the Metro is that it can get crowded during peak times, especially during rush hour.
If you have large bags, you should be prepared to navigate stairs and escalators, as some stations don't have elevators.
Another thing to consider is that the Metro can be affected by track work or delays, so it's always a good idea to check the Metro's Twitter account before you travel.
Where is the pick up area at BWI?
Personal vehicles may pick up on the Arrivals/Lower Level roadway.
This company offers 24/7 airport pick up and drop off with private cars and shared vans – you can even get a limousine!
With upfront pricing, you’ll know how much your trip will be when you book. You can also request a car seat or a kennel.
Pros: Door-to-door service. Good choice for those with luggage or who want direct service for a lower cost. Offers car seat or kennel if traveling with children and pets. You can also choose to tip in advance when reserving.
Cons: Can take a lot of time depending on traffic and how many others in the van get dropped off before you.
If traveling with a group or large family, the SuperShuttle may be the easiest and most affordable option.
Guests can choose between a shared-ride van as the cheapest option or a non-stop van which is slightly more expensive.
Also on offer are ExecuCars, which is an SUV meet-and-greet service that operates as a luxury door-to-door transportation option.
Rates vary immensely depending on your destination and type of SuperShuttle service.
Those traveling as a family or group receive a discounted rate as compared to those traveling on their own.
For example, a single ticket for the shared-ride SuperShuttle is $37 per person, whereas the non-stop SuperShuttle is $125.
Additionally, those interested in traveling via SUV ExcuCar will pay $113.
A family or group of 5, on the other hand, can travel by shared-ride SuperShuttle for a total of $85, by non-stop SuperShuttle for $125 total, or the SUV ExcuCar for $113 total.
For a complete list of their prices, please see their website for more details.
Though the ease of a door-to-door shuttle service is appealing, always consider the time at which you will be traveling as trips taken during rush hour can take well over an hour.
SuperShuttle shared van rides are not currently available to book but other shuttle services are listed on their website (as of January 2022).
Pros: Easy travel option that is ideal for larger families or those with young children who do not wish to use public transportation.
Cons: A very expensive alternative for those traveling on their own or as a couple. The shared-ride SuperShuttle can take a very long time, especially when traveling during rush hour.
BWI to DC Airport Taxi / Uber / Lyft
It is also possible to hire a taxi from the airport straight into the DC. Taxis are available 24/7 and are located just outside baggage claim.
The estimated cost for a trip to downtown DC is $90, though rates do vary.
Uber/Lyft taken without any added surcharge fees usually cost between $41-$55, though the price can increase during rush hour.
Though personal taxis might seem like one of the quickest ways to travel between Washington, DC, and BWI, the length of the journey very much depends on the time of day.
Taxis that operate during rush hour can take significantly longer than other transportation services.
Where does Uber/Lyft pick up at BWI? App-based ride services pick up at the terminal curbs on the Upper Level/Departures.
Pros: Door-to-door transportation. Extremely easy, especially for families. 24/7 availability.
Cons: Expensive for single travelers and can take more than an hour if traveling during peak times.
CAR SERVICE TO AND FROM BWI
If you are looking for peace of mind that you will be picked up from the airport on time, and taken to your destination promptly, DCAcar car service is an excellent choice.
You can make the reservation ahead of time, and give the company your flight information so they know whether you’ll be early or late.
At BWI your driver will meet you at baggage claim, and help you with your luggage. You can get a rate estimation and make a booking with this highly-rated car service company here.
Pros: Luxury personalized service
Cons: Costly - but DCByFoot guests get a 5% discount by using the promo code: dcbyfoot.
Finally, visitors can also opt to travel between BWI and DC via a rental car service.
If you only require a car for transportation to and from the airport, then you should certainly look into other options.
However, for those already planning to rent a car during their visit to DC, this is an easy way to get to the airport.
Of course, prices vary immensely depending on the length of rental, the company, and the quality of the vehicle.
Also, guests should factor in the cost of fuel, which can dramatically increase the cost of renting a car.
As is the case with guests using taxis or the SuperShuttle, those who opt for renting a car should always consider the time at which they will be traveling between BWI and DC as traffic can get very congested during rush hour.
Pros: Freedom to travel at any time and directly to/from your destination.
Cons: This is the most expensive option and the only one that visitors should consider if they want a rental car for other purposes.