Metro transit guide for July 4 in D.C.


Thousands of people will ride Metrorail to see this year’s show over the Mall. (Tim Kelley)

More than half a million passengers will ride Metro on the holiday, with the biggest crowds in the evening, around fireworks time. These are some tips to ease your travels.

Stations. The Smithsonian and Federal Triangle stations will be very crowded. Better bets within walking distance of the Mall are the Farragut North, Federal Center SW, Capitol South, L’Enfant Plaza, Archives, Union Station and Judiciary Square stations.

Transferring trains at Metro Center, Gallery Place or L’Enfant Plaza can be a hassle in big crowds. It’s often easier to get out of the station and walk a few extra blocks to your destination rather than to go from one platform to another within a station.

After the fireworks at the National Mall end, about 9:30 p.m., the Mall side of the Smithsonian station will be for entrance only.

Hours of operation. Metrorail will be open from 7 a.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday. The trains will run on a Saturday schedule until about 2 p.m., so the service will be less frequent than on a normal Friday. After 2 p.m., as the number of people heading for the Mall increases, service will gradually increase to near rush-hour levels.

Fares. The fare increases took effect Sunday. To calculate your cost, use Metro’s online Trip Planner. On Friday, the rates are off-peak all day. Use a SmarTrip card to save the $1 surcharge on all trips with paper farecards.

When starting out, be sure you have enough value on your card to cover a round trip. When you see the lines at the vending machines after the fireworks, you’ll be tempted to walk home rather than wait to add value there.

Restrictions. Bicycles and large coolers won’t be allowed on trains, because of the big crowds.

Parking. Free all day at the lots and garages operated by Metro.

Metrobus. Saturday schedule, with some detours around the Mall.

MetroAccess. Regular hours for the paratransit service, but subscription trips are canceled. Make July 4 reservations by 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Customer service line. Call 202-637-7000 between 6 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. The Lost & Found office will be closed Friday.

Visitor tips. Eating and drinking are prohibited within the Metrorail system. Stand right, walk left on escalators. If you’re pushing with a stroller, use the elevator rather than the escalator. Don’t try to hold the train doors. They won’t reopen automatically, and you’re likely to bust them, taking train out of service.

Weekend track work. The only scheduled disruption this weekend for the rebuilding program is on the Red Line. Saturday and Sunday, trains will leave the ends of the line at Shady Grove and Glenmont every 15 minutes. Extra trains will be in service between Grosvenor and Silver Spring. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, trains should reach platforms in that zone every 10 minutes. The schedule change will allow for testing of the new 7000 series rail cars between Shady Grove and Twinbrook.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.
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Robert Thomson · July 1, 2014