Every day, hundreds of thousands of commuters and tourists travel in and out of Washington. One of the most popular modes of transportation in the Washington area is Metrorail, a subway system serving more than 85 stations. VOA's Jeff Feuer has more on the nation's capital's subway system.

The blinking lights on the platform signal its arrival, while anxious customers prepare to board the train.

The chimes? signal riders the doors are about to open. Once aboard, the passengers hear one last safety warning.

You are now on Washington's rapid transit system .

Since it first opened in 1976, Metrorail -- or Metro -- has served over three billion people. The subway system covers 170 kilometers and travels through Washington, D.C. and neighboring communities in Maryland and Virginia.

More than 700,000 riders use Washington's rapid transit system daily, making it the second-busiest in the U.S., behind New York's subway system.

Why do people use Metrorail? It's a matter of convenience, says one rider, "I like to use the Metro because I live close to the Metro and it's very convenient to get to my workplace."

It beats driving, says another rider, "I just detest sitting in traffic, so it avoids me from having to deal with road rage."

There were only five stations when the system first opened. Today there are over 80 stops on the system's five lines. Unlike the fixed price charged on transit systems in many other cities, Metro's fare varies based on the distance traveled and the time of day.

The system's trains travel at an average speed of over 50 kilometers per hour. At that speed, a trip from the heart of Washington to Reagan-National Airport will take only a few minutes. And while there may not be much to see when looking out a Metro car window, if you do look quickly in-between stops, you might see one of the "tunnel ads".

Whether a commuter or a tourist, most agree Metrorail is just the ticket for getting around the nation's capital.