BWI Airport is an attractive option for domestic travelers because there are a lot of nonstop flights to destinations all over the country. The downside is that it is technically the airport for Baltimore, so it’s really far from DC. Fortunately, there is an easy and cheap way to get from BWI to DC.

Taking a cab from BWI to DC will cost you almost $100! However, you can take the MARC commuter train to get to Union Station for much less. MARC stands for Maryland Area Regional Commuter and is operated by the state of Maryland.

There are three MARC train routes. The Penn Line, which services BWI, runs seven days a week, with more trains on weekdays and fewer trains on the weekend. If you do plan to use the Penn line, check the schedule before your trip. The BWI train station also doubles as an Amtrak station. So, even if MARC does not work out you can always grab an Amtrak train into DC. Amtrak will be more expensive though.

If you want to try it, here are step by step instructions for riding the MARC from BWI to DC.

1. Ride the MARC/Amtrak shuttle

When your flight arrives, should walk from your gate to baggage claim level. Even if you did not check any bags, you need to catch the shuttle on this level. Follow the signs to the MARC/Amtrak shuttle. Once you are at a designated stop, make sure to wait and get on the shuttle says MARC/Amtrak on the front and not one of the parking lot shuttles. The shuttle is free so once it pulls up use either door and climb aboard. Now sit back, it’s about a five to ten minute ride to the train station.

2. Buy your ticket(s)

Once you arrive at the train station, go inside and walk up to either the staffed ticket window or use an automated machine. If you go up to the ticket window, just make sure to tell them that you want a MARC (not Amtrak) ticket to Washington.

Update: MARC tickets were previously sold from blue Amtrak ticket machines. Now there are dedicated machines for purchasing MARC tickets at most stations. If you have any trouble, ask one of the staff members at the ticket window for help.

3. Ride the train from BWI to DC

At the BWI train station, you have to cross the tracks to get to the southbound side. You can use the stairs or the elevator if you have a lot of luggage. Once you are on the platform, wait for your train and board once it arrives. You can check the screens on the station platforms to see if the train is on time or what time it’s going to be coming. You can also check by going to the website marctracker.com on your smartphone.

Make sure you have your tickets ready when you climb aboard because the conductor will be around shortly to collect them. Once you get to Union Station you can either walk, take a taxi, or use Metro’s red line to connect to your final destination.  

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