transportation

Preliminary Metro Service Information for Pope Francis’ visit

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Metro is preparing for large crowds and extensive traffic detours during Pope Francis’ three-day visit to Washington, D.C. Tuesday, September 22, through Thursday, September 24.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend events during the Papal visit, which will likely result in crowding and delays on trains and buses, and could produce near Inauguration ridership levels at selected stations.

While many regular commuters are expected—and encouraged—to adjust their work schedules or take advantage of telecommuting, Metro will take steps to provide additional train service during non-peak hours Wednesday and Thursday during the Papal visit. (Metro does not have the ability to add significant capacity during the traditional morning and evening rush hours.)

Riders should expect significant crowding aboard trains and at rail stations near Papal events. Due to crowds following Papal events, riders may need to wait extended periods of time–possibly hours–before re-entering the Metrorail system at certain stations. In addition, bus customers should expect extensive detours and service adjustments as a result of events and associated road closures. All riders are encouraged to allow extra travel time during the Papal visit.

Metro is continuing to work with its external partners to plan for the Mass at the Basilica on Wednesday afternoon, which is expected to place extraordinary ridership pressure on the Red Line at the height of rush hour. Brookland Station, the closest station to the event, is the smallest Red Line station with the ability to accommodate fewer than 5,000 boardings per hour under normal conditions. In order to provide alternates to Brookland Station for the more than 25,000 ticketed guests, Metro and the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) are developing plans for supplemental shuttle bus service from two adjacent Red Line stations: Fort Totten and Rhode Island Avenue. Details regarding shuttle bus service will be provided at a later date, but guests attending the Basilica event are encouraged to consider travel options other than Brookland Station. In addition, Brookland Station may be designated as “exit only” for a period of time prior to the Papal event, and “entry only” following the event. This step will effectively double the number of riders that can be accommodated per hour.

Anyone planning to use Metro during the Papal visit is strongly encouraged to purchase fare media in advance. Each traveler needs his or her own SmarTrip or paper farecard, which should be loaded – in advance – with sufficient value to pay for all planned travel. Riders are encouraged to purchase SmarTrip cards in advance to avoid potentially long lines at station vending machines. Riders can purchase SmarTrip cards online prior to September 14 by clicking here.

Additional details will be provided as plans for the Papal visit are finalized.

For information about official events, please see the Pope Francis Visit 2015 website.


Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015

  • Hours: Metrorail will open at 5 a.m. and close at midnight.
  • Fares: Normal weekday fare policies in effect.
  • All Metrorail stations will be open; however, selected station entrances may be closed due to security needs.
  • Regular rush hour train service during the AM and PM commute.
  • Additional train service during midday and late evening hours. There will be no scheduled track work on any rail line, and trains will run at near rush-hour service levels during midday and late evening hours to provide additional capacity for riders. Riders should note that it is not possible to add trains or cars during rush hours, as every available car is already being used for service. As a result, the system is expected to be extremely crowded during the traditional rush hour periods
  • Metrobus will operate on a regular weekday schedule, including all DC public school trips. Riders should expect detours and delays on all routes serving Downtown DC.

Important Information About Brookland Station 

  • More than 25,000 ticketed guests are expected to attend the Mass at the Basilica, placing extraordinary pressure on Brookland Station which has limited capacity.
  • To accommodate as many people as possible:
    • Brookland Station may be designated “exit only” prior to the event (exact times TBD)
    • Brookland Station may be designated “entry only” following the event (exact times TBD)
    • Shuttle bus service will run between Brookland and two adjacent stations: Rhode Island Avenue and Fort Totten. Details will be released at a later date.
    • Additional bus service will be provided on the H Line to and from Columbia Heights.
  • Despite these efforts, attendees may experience extremely lengthy waits before being able to reenter the Metrorail system.

Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015

  • Hours: Metrorail will open at 5 a.m. and close at midnight.
  • Fares: Normal weekday fares in effect.
  • Parking: Regular rates apply at all Metro-operated facilities.
  • Stations: All Metrorail stations will be open; however, selected station entrances may be closed due to security needs.
  • Regular rush hour train service during the AM and PM commute.
  • Additional train service during midday hours. There will be no scheduled track work on any rail line, and trains will run at near rush-hour service levels during midday hours to provide additional capacity for riders. Riders should note that it is not possible to add trains or cars during rush hours, as every available car is already being used for service. As a result, the system is expected to be extremely crowded during the traditional rush hour periods.
  • Metrobus will operate on a regular weekday schedule, including all DC public school trips. Expect detours and delays on all routes that travel near the U.S. Capitol (morning event) and Gallery Place (afternoon event).

Know Before You Go

  • Pope Francis’ visit is expected to draw up to several hundred thousand people to events during the visit. Be prepared for long lines, full trains and the possibility of delays on trains and buses throughout the region. Also be aware of the possibility of unannounced security measures, such as temporary station entrance closures, during the Papal visit.
  • Before traveling, please consider your ability to walk, stand, and tolerate warm temperatures for extended periods of time. Dress appropriately.
  • Prohibited items at many events include selfie sticks, alcohol, bicycles, explosives/fireworks, glass containers, chairs, coolers, animals (except service animals), weapons, and more. Be sure to check the event website for a complete list. If in doubt about whether an item will be permitted, it is best to leave it at home.
  • For your safety, any bag, package or container carried onto the transit system may be subject to random, non-invasive security screening by Metro Transit Police.
  • Report suspicious activity or unattended items to Metro Transit Police. Call 202-962-2121 or text MyMTPD (696873). In an emergency, you may also call 911.

(Photo via Bossi, on Flickr)

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