It's easy to think of Washington, D.C. as the monumental core of the United States government. But it's important to remember that the city is also home to nearly 600,000 ordinary citizens living and working at the center of a metropolitan region with 5.4 million people.
Together, this diverse population experiences some of the very best and worst in American transportation. On one hand, extensive suburban sprawl has made residents in "the District" victim to the second-longest average commute in the country and some of the worst air pollution on the East Coast.
On the other hand, the city has one of the best mass transit systems in the world. Metrorail is the second busiest rail transit system in the United States, serving more than 720,000 passengers on average per weekday in 2008, and Metrobus is the nation's sixth most-used bus system. Washington continues to add new heavy and light rail lines, and city officials are exploring bus rapid transit, streetcars and bike sharing as alternative transport options.
number of Metrorail trips
in fiscal year 2009
Source: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
total hours lost
due to congestion each year
Source: Texas Transportation Institute Annual Urban Mobility Report