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Officials Warn of Congestion

With a world spiritual leader visiting so many places in the capital over so many days, District Transportation Director Emeka Moneme rightly refers to the "unknown unknowns" in describing what planners confront today through Friday morning.

Despite all the interagency planning and the public awareness campaign, some transportation problem will occur during the pope's visit that we're not talking about right now. So if you can work from home, Wednesday and Thursday are the days to do it. Otherwise, Metrorail is your best bet.

But Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. offered this advice for both commuters and visitors: "Come early" and "understand it will be crowded."

Moneme and Catoe spoke to reporters outside WTOP radio this morning, after an hour-long discussion of transit issues, which you can hear by using this link.

Here's some of the advice they're giving out today.

Train riders who park at Metro stations will want to get there extra early on Wednesday and Thursday, because we've got visitors coming from across the country for events in central Washington and in Brookland, where Catholic University and the National Shrine are located.

Although Metrorail will provide rush period service from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday -- a strategy that is at least rare, if not unprecedented -- the trains still will be crowded in the core area and many travelers will be out-of-towners unfamiliar with the system.

Today's a good day to load up the SmarTrip card so you don't have to use a Farecard machine for the rest of the week.

If you're going to the papal mass scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Thursday in Nationals Park, you might want to pick up a Mass Pass at Metro's sales office at Metro Center station, at the Pentagon Transit Center or at Metro Headquarters at 600 5th St. NW.

On Wednesday, Metro also will be selling the passes at these times and places: From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Farragut West Station and from 4 to 8 p.m. at Brookland-CUA Station. On Thursday, they'll be sold from 5 to 8 a.m. at the Branch Avenue, Columbia Heights, Franconia-Springfield, Navy Yard, Vienna and Shady Grove stations. (Worshipers must be at Nationals Park before 8:30 a.m. Thursday.)

By Robert Thomson  |  April 15, 2008; 1:32 PM ET
Categories:  Events  
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