Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Taking Transit to National Harbor

A few months ago, I was surprised to learn that Metro was adding a second bus route that would serve National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. National Harbor is a mixed-use real estate development geared towards hotels and entertainment. It comprises about 2 square miles and is adjacent to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge on the Maryland side of the Potomac.

The existing route (NH1) connects National Harbor to the Southern Ave Metro station on the DC border. The new NH2 route appears to offer a slightly faster route from here in Carver Langston.

Last week I decided to try it out. The NH2 bus arrives at National Harbor by way of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and makes stops in Virginia including King Street Metro station, which was my connection. Here's the whole journey in Storify form, but the bottom line is the trip from Carver Langston to National Harbor took 1 hour and 18 minutes from boarding the X2 bus to hopping off the NH2 at the casino, which is the first stop at National Harbor.


So, there you have it. The commute wasn't terrible. The NH2 and NH1 make multiple stops within the National Harbor complex. The only other transit option on-site is a private bus that circulates around the community and costs a $5 per day. It traverses the "downtown" area, the casino, and the outlet shopping center. I preferred to time my movements to the arrival of the Metro buses, which wasn't difficult. 

The NH2 bus operates daily with 30 minute headways, from 5:00 AM until 1:00 AM (and midnight on Sunday). Is this a trip I'd want to make daily? No. But, it's good to see a realistic transit option connecting Virginia to Maryland while offering  DC residents access to a development that may have been a car-only destination just 15 or 20 years ago.