Transit advocates are calling on Metro to postpone track maintenance scheduled for Saturday when Metrorail is expected to see an influx of riders to big games for Washington’s hockey and baseball teams.
With the weather warming up, Saturday also is expected to be a busy day for tourists using the transit system to visit Washington.
“With trains running only once every 24 minutes on most of the Red Line, and four stations shut on the Green Line, the system will not be able to meet the need for its services,” Action Committee for Transit President Tina Slater wrote in a letter sent Tuesday night to Metro General Manager Richard Sarles.
The track work and two home games for DC sports teams could make the Saturday midday ride a long one for some riders.
The Washington Capitals face off against the New York Rangers in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series at about 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Verizon Center.
About a half-hour later, an umpire will call “Play ball!” for the National League East-leading Washington Nationals’ game against the division rival Philadelphia Phillies. Phillies fans are known to travel south on Interstate 95 to pack Nationals Park in big numbers. The Nationals are promoting the weekend series as a chance for DC fans to “Take Back the Park.”
Many fans travel to Nationals Park via the Navy Yard stop on the Green Line and to Verizon Center via the Gallery Place-Chinatown stop on the Red Line, which also serves Montgomery County. Gallery Place-Chinatown is a transfer point for many fans traveling from the county to Nats games.
Red Line trains will operate every 24 minutes from 10 p.m. Friday through close on Sunday. Metro is advising riders to allow 20 minutes of additional travel time on the Red Line.
Slater’s letter, which can be read in full here, concluded with criticism of the much-maligned transit agency: “No transportation agency in this area would inconvenience drivers in a similar way for non-emergency maintenance,” she wrote. “Even with the current stretched budgets, highway departments go to great expense to minimize traffic delays during construction. Transit riders deserve the same consideration.”
Metro has no plans to postpone the track work, The Washington Examiner reported.
"In this region, rarely does a weekend go by without a major event," Metro spokeswoman Caroline Lukas wrote in an email to The Examiner. "Unfortunately, we are unable to delay this critical rebuilding work that will improve safety and reliability."
Metro could add a "few additional trains on standby" after the games if needed, Lukas told The Examiner.
And, The Examiner notes, the challenge for sports fans using Metro could run right up to close on Sunday night. The Nationals play the Phillies at 8:05 p.m. in a nationally televised game that Metro-riding baseball fans likely hope will finish in time to make train transfers before Metrorail closes at midnight.