Transportation in the Washington, DC metro area has a complicated organizational structure on account of the fact that the area covers two states (Maryland and Virginia) as well as the District of Columbia itself. There is one regional transportation operator , and many of the local governments in the region operate their own services as well.
The regional operator is the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), best known as Metro. Prior to WMATA’s establishment by Congress in 1967, the area’s streetcar and bus lines were operated by various private companies. Ground was broken on the Metrorail system in 1969 and it opened on March 27, 1976. Today, Metrorail has 91 stations and 117 miles of track, with one extension under construction. Metrorail carries more passengers than any other rapid transit system in the United States except New York City, with over 217 million passengers using the system in fiscal year 2012.
WMATA also operates fixed route bus service under the Metrobus banner. Metrobus was founded in 1973 when WMATA bought out the four remaining bus companies that were still operating in the area. WMATA now operates a fleet of over 1,500 buses on over 300 routes to over 12,000 bus stops throughout the region, providing transportation to over 133 million people each year. Metrobus operates an environmentally friendly fleet with many compress natural gas, hybrid diesel electric, and clean diesel burning buses.
In addition, many of the local governments in the region, such as Montgomery County in Maryland and the City of Alexandria, operate their own bus systems within their jurisdictions in coordination with WMATA. There are also two local commuter rail systems. MARC trains operate from Union Station to Maryland and West Virginia, while Virginia Railway Express trains operate from Union Station to Virginia.
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