Once-a-week commute Philadelphia to DC

  • Thread starter littlefierce439
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Good morning everyone! I am a current DC resident and will be here until at least December 2022, which is when my grad school program is done. My partner is considering looking at law schools in Philadelphia (and some in DC too) which would begin around September 2022. I can likely finesse my schedule to only have one class a week in DC (this is also assuming I can work remotely or have a job in Philly that is flexible with this plan, which I know is a big IF).

Would it be reasonable for me to move to Philly with my partner and commute back to DC for class once a week? For example, the class could be 6:10-8pm every Tuesday night from September to mid-December. Take a train down to arrive in DC around 4 or 5ish, get to Foggy Bottom for class, and then after class, go back to Philly. Is that too late to catch a train back to Philly after class, or would it make more sense to come back the next morning? The hotel cost each week would certainly not be the best, but certainly would be cheaper than us maintaining an apartment in DC and an apartment in Philly for 4 months.

I know this is very far away, but the idea is stuck in my head now and I want to be prepared for the logistics of it should it happen.


MARC Rider

Apr 5, 2011
Baltimore. MD
Well, the Amtrak ride WAS-PHL is about 20 minutes longer than WAS - WIL, and there's a guy I know who's now living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who did the WAS - WIL ride for decades. :)

Seriously, I think that the Northeast Regional between WAS and PHL takes about 1 hour 50 minutes each way. The real problem is that even before Covid, the NEC service really dwindles fast after 7 PM. I seem to recall that there was an 8:30 PM Acela, and then 66 coming up from Newport News, leaving at 9:30, which would get you into Philly at around 11:20 PM.

Another possibility is to consider living in Baltimore. I had a colleague who was in the same boat as you, she worked in DC, her husband worked in Philly. The BAL -WAS ride on Amtrak is about 40 minutes, on MARC it's 50 minutes to an hour; The BAL -PHL ride on Amtrak is about an hour and 10 minutes. There are also a couple of MARC trains leaving Washington after 8, so you would have a few more options, plus, if you did have to take 66, you would be in Baltimore at 10:10 or so. My colleague lived in downtown Baltimore, at one point in an apartment that was about a 5 minute walk from Penn Station. This does a lot to help reduce the commuting time. I live up in northwest Baltimore, and it's a 15 to 20 minute drive for me when I go to the station, not to mention paying for the parking.

Also, be sure to include at least 30 minutes for the Metro ride between Union station and your class. The last time I was down (about a month ago), Metro seems to be running on 10 minute headways all through the day, so you might have to wait a bit for trains, especially if you have to make a connection, which you will have to do if you're going to Foggy Bottom.