A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
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Re: Having a car as a 1L in DC area

Postby mala2 » Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:32 am

I lived in DE for about 6 years. I only had a car for the last 2. You can get around fine on the metro. If you already have a car it's nice to have. Parking around Howard won't be as hard as say parking around GW. I think. It's nice also because you can get out of the city on the weekends

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Re: Having a car as a 1L in DC area

Postby bikepilot » Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:35 am

ohhenry wrote:Anybody know how long the commute would be from the Van Dorn stop on the blue line to American U? I think I would have to transfer to the red line and get off at the Tenley Town stop then take the AU shuttle?

About an hour to hour and half min from my memory.

The metro website time estimator is usually not too far off actual travel time. What it doesn't calculate is time spent waiting for trains. They don't seem to run on any terribly fixed schedule so timing things such that you arrive at the station right when the train does isn't always easy. The red line runs really often during traditional rush hours, the blue line not so often any time (can be 15 min between trains).

I agree the metro is better than Boston's T system - but they both suck imho, metro just sucks slightly less.

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Re: Having a car as a 1L in DC area

Postby nativedelta » Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:41 am

If you plan to stay in and around the city and metro, no you don't need a car.

I went to CUA for my 1L year before transferring to George Mason University, and let me tell you, CUA may have a beautiful campus, but it's square in the middle of the ghetto.

I had no less than 6 friends who were robbed at the Brookland Metro that comes up on the backside of CUA's campus. The school posts a police car at the entrance of the metro, but that doesn't help you on the platform and it sure doesn't help you on the 2 dicey stops between Brookland and Union Station.

I myself had someone try (unsuccessfully) to rob me on the stop right after CUA (Fort Totten). Most people who metro live either in Chinatown or in Silver Spring, MD. CUA has really reasonable parking in a garage that attaches to the law building. If you are planning to live anywhere outside the city (like VA or MD) I would choose a car for safety and convenience. DC may have a great metro system in theory, but the reality is that metro is often delayed, packed, and poorly run.

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Re: Having a car as a 1L in DC area

Postby Nogameisfair » Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:01 am

sojuteacher wrote:You can also get a zip car membership if you want to have the luxury of having a car once in a while (for going someplace out of the area or for shopping/etc. I always had a roommate with a car, otherwise I probably would have sprung for the membership.


I would suggest getting a bike for spring/fall and having a zipcar membership for the winter. It's nice to have the flexibility of "wheels when you want them." Most of the schools in the area have memberships with zipcar, so you only pay $25 a year for the card and then b/w $7.25 - 14.25 per hour for the car. I had a car my first year in DC, and after doing the math I got rid of it in favor of this option. It's just too damn expensive for occasional use. Zipcar covers gas, insurance, and parking (which can cost a ton for a permanent spot).

On the metro: it's really unreliable. If you keep odd hours, or if it happens to snow, or if you want to use it on the weekend, expect to wait around the stop for a while. The buses are ok, but don't count on them either. I waited 20 minutes in the snow last night and then called and they didn't plan on having a bus there for another 20.

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Re: Having a car as a 1L in DC area

Postby bikepilot » Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:01 am

I passed a stuck metro bus in the snow a couple of evenings ago. I was on a motorcycle - says something about metro bus driver's competence level.

Zip cars are pretty awesome and a great option if you are a mostly-city type person and only would want to get out from time to time. I keep a zipcar account active just in case I end up in a city without a car and want to grab one quickly. Often much better than a traditional rental car. Traditional rental cars can be good too though and can work out to be cheaper if you'll need the car for a full day or more. Often when we'd go on ski trips in law school we'd rent one big car for a weekend (I couldn't carry my classmates on my motorcycle of course). It usually worked out to less than $70/day which split between 4+ people isn't half bad.

I've never been mugged or had any crime-related problems in DC or anywhere else. I'm also an athletic (though averaged-sized) male and probably not the most attractive target. I also tend to think a general air of confidence helps. Baddies tend to be lazy and aren't usually going to pick on someone who is likely to kick their ass (or at least make them work for their ill gotten gains). I've never made any attempt to avoid "bad" areas though. I've only been in a few real fights and all were coming to the aid of someone else. They all ended well (for me). I used to cut through south east on my bicycle with some frequency as a kid. No problems then either, though maybe not the smartest thing I've ever done.

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