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Getting to Games by Transit

The addition of a 41,000-seat baseball stadium to a D.C. neighborhood just getting used to traffic has not created a new transportation system. No new highways or roads or train lines were built to accommodate the crowds.

Navy Yard Station (2).jpg Navy Yard Station. (Thomson)

The main new thing is the rebuilt exit for the Navy Yard Metro station. That's scheduled to be open by this weekend, when major league games start at Nationals Park on South Capitol Street. Walk a block south from the station and you'll see how much is riding on the success of this transit solution: You'll be facing the two tiny-looking garages built to accommodate some of the season ticket holders.

Making this work is more a management challenge than a construction program. The D.C. government, the Nationals and Metro can do all their publicity advising fans to "Take Metro, Take Metro, Take Metro" to the games, but it's a long season. Fans will form their habits based on experience.

New Stairs (2).jpg New stairway behind escalators. (Thomson)

Here are some tips for your first experience.

-- You'll arrive at Navy Yard Station on a six or eight-car train. If you're traveling from downtown in the direction of Branch Avenue, the rear cars will be the closest to the west side exit, which can accommodate the most exiting passengers.

-- If the platform is very crowded when your train arrives, the operator may hold there with the doors closed until there's more space to exit.

-- When the doors open on a Branch Avenue-bound train, turn left and you'll see two escalators rising from the platform to the mezzanine. It's exit only on that side before games, but the escalators still may be crowded. Behind the escalators, you'll find a stairway and an elevator.

-- On the mezzanine, you'll walk to a bank of three escalators and an elevator taking people up to street level.

-- On the street level, you'll find the station kiosk. To the right are 10 fare gates. Two of them are express gates for SmarTrip card users. To the left of the kiosk are two wide fare gates for disabled people.

New Escalators (2).jpg At work on new escalators. (Thomson)

-- The exit is on the south side of busy M Street, an advantage over the other station exit, which brings you to New Jersey Avenue on the north side of M.

-- Follow the crowd south on Half Street to the stadium a block away, but watch your step. See today's Post story on the stadium, which includes a description of the unfinished office building and street construction around the stadium.

-- After the game, the west side escalators all reverse direction to take fans back down to the station platform.

By Robert Thomson  |  March 24, 2008; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Stadium  
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Putting the faregates at street level is a great idea, especially for after games when the whole crowd thunders in at once.

I imagine that the crowd this Sunday will be somewhat more spread out in terms of arrival times than will be the case for most other days, so the opener will not really be a true test of how everything works out.

Posted by: Rich | March 24, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: I agree, Rich. I think the true test of all the transportation planning begins on Monday, April 7, when the Nats play their first week night game in the new stadium.

Will fans be able to find parking at the outer stations, such as Vienna and Shady Grove, between 5 and 6 p.m.? And how well will fans and commuters mingle on the Navy Yard Station platform between 5 p.m. and game time?

On traffic, I'll be watching for how bad congestion gets around I-395 and South Capitol Street between 5 and 7 p.m.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | March 24, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Dr. G, do you know what the specifics for the Nats Express bus from RFK will be? I know it's running from Lot 8, but the team's site displays an astonishing lack of specifics, as they don't address:

--Will the direct access road from the Southwest-Southeast Freeway to Lot 8 be open, or do fans have to use Independence Avenue?

--Where do the buses load?

--What route will the buses follow to the ballpark that will allow them to maintain the promised schedule?

--What is planned for the times when DC United and the Nationals play on the same day? (The most notable conflict being on June 29, when United play the LA Galaxy--read David Beckham--at noon and the Nationals play the Baltimore Orioles an hour and a half later.)

If the buses work well, then I like the idea of using them. I almost always drove to RFK because it was faster than the subway. (I live somewhat near Springfield Mall and could be home from RFK in 25 minutes by car versus over an hour on the Blue Line.) I think I am going to wait and see what other people have to say about how the buses work out before I try that. I'm considering parking at the Branch Avenue stop this Sunday because it eliminates the need to change trains, but my girlfriend is highly skeptical because she thinks it won't be safe going back there at night after the game (although I think there would be other baseball fans such that "safety in numbers" might apply).

Posted by: Rich | March 24, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I live in Alexandria and REALLY would like to take a watertaxi to the games, but it seems like this is still only an idea and still a long ways from reality. Is there any information on this?

Posted by: Em | March 24, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"I live in Alexandria and REALLY would like to take a watertaxi to the games, but it seems like this is still only an idea and still a long ways from reality. Is there any information on this?"

That's something they've discussed for the future, but I doubt we'll see it this year. Nowhere convenient to dock, and the area around the ballpark is still very industrial with lots of construction.

Posted by: Rich | March 24, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

What would REALLY work is a MetroBus that goes from Nats Stadium and RFK via the same access road the Nats Express bus will take, but drops people off as close to the RFK Station Metro as possible.

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