Getting to Jon Stewart rally
During my online chat Monday, a reader asked about getting to the rally that Comedy Central's Jon Stewart has scheduled for Saturday on the National Mall: "how much lead time do you think people need to have to get downtown via Metro (Red Line from Glenmont)? I have friends coming from out of town to go."
The rally is scheduled for noon to 3 p.m., between 3rd Street and 7th Street NW, the side of the Mall nearest the U.S. Capitol. It's hard to say how many people are going to attend. The Metro transit system is anticipating a travel impact similar to that for August's Glenn Beck rally. More than half a million people rode Metrorail on that Saturday, about 200,000 more than on an uneventful Saturday.
Here are some travel suggestions for people from near and far who plan to attend.
Metrorail is always the best way to get to an event on the National Mall. On weekends, parking is free at Metro lots and garages. You can drive to one of the outer stations, park and take the train into downtown D.C. But keep in mind that this is a common tactic for people from outside the immediate area. Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein advises that the parking areas at the ends of the lines could fill up in the hours before the rally. There's no system for checking in advance to see if an area is full.
The alternative: Drive to a parking area one or two stations from the end of the line. They tend to be less crowded.
Weekend work: Metro almost always schedules track work for the weekends. This coming weekend, the transit authority plans work on the Red, Orange and Green lines, which will cause delays.
Red Line riders taking the train from Glenmont should add at least 20 minutes of travel time to get around work on the elevated tracks at Rhode Island Avenue. Passengers coming in from the western end of the line, the Shady Grove side, should add at least half an hour for the trains to get around work on the Rockville platform.
Orange Line riders should add at least half an hour to a trip between Stadium-Armory and Cheverly stations. This is where Metro will be doing some preparatory work for a big effort to stabilize the tracks on the following weekend.
Closest stations: The most crowded station for Mall events is Smithsonian. It's the one everyone knows is on the Mall. You're likely to find less crowding by getting off and on at L'Enfant Plaza or Federal Center Southwest on the Blue and Orange lines, Archives-Navy Memorial on the Green and Yellow lines, or Judiciary Square on the Red Line.
Paying the fare: Whether you're using the plastic SmarTrip card or the paper Farecard, it's a good idea to go in with enough value on the card to cover a round trip, so you don't have to wait on long lines at the vending machines when you're heading home. If you haven't used your SmarTrip card in a while, it takes a second or two longer now for the electronic target on the fare gate to communicate with your card. Just be patient and hold the card down on the target till the barriers part.
Note to regulars: Be patient. Things won't go at the pace you're used to. As with any big event on the Mall, this one will draw many out of towners unfamiliar with the Metro system. That means longer, slower lines at the fare vending machines and at the fare gates. More people will be wandering around at transfer stations like Metro Center.
There's limited street parking in the Mall area. The District enforces parking rules on Saturdays. That means you'll need to put money in the meters and follow the time restrictions on how long you can park in your spot. On most downtown streets, it costs $2 an hour to park at a meter, and in many places the time limit is two hours.
The District uses a variety of parking meters, but you're most likely to encounter either a traditional single-space coin operated meter or a green multi-space meter. See a District Department of Transportation parking guide.
There are some experiments going on with different parking systems. For example, on Independence Avenue, south of the Mall, you may encounter a pay-by-space meter that will ask you for the number of the parking space, which you'll find on a short post by the curb.
The National Park Service is planning these street closings from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.:
* Jefferson Drive, Third to Seventh streets NW
* Madison Drive, Third to Seventh streets NW
* Third Street, Independence to Pennsylvania avenues
* Fourth Street, Independence to Pennsylvania avenues
Metrobus operates one of the largest public bus systems in the nation. See Metrobus route maps here. The fare is $1.50 with a SmarTrip card and $1.70 with cash.
If you're new in town and looking for a bus on rally day, a best bet is the D.C. Circulator bus system. The buses operate on just a few basic routes, but they're a distinctive red, black and gray, are scheduled to arrive every 10 minutes and cost $1. See Circulator routes here.
| October 25, 2010; 4:40 PM ET
Categories: District, Driving, Events, Metro | Tags: Dr. Gridlock
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