Extra Trains, Staff Are Planned for Day of Papal Mass

Work last month at the Navy Yard Station. The west entrance flow will be altered to handle Mass attendees.
Work last month at the Navy Yard Station. The west entrance flow will be altered to handle Mass attendees. (By Lois Raimondo -- The Washington Post)
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By Lena Sun
Friday, March 14, 2008

Metro will run more trains and deploy extra personnel to move the 25,000 people expected to take rail to and from Nationals Park for the papal Mass on April 17, officials said yesterday.

The Mass by Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon, and 47,000 people are expected to attend. The rail system will open at 5 a.m. and operate its regular weekday rush-hour service until 9:30 a.m.

Parking near the stadium is nearly nonexistent, officials said. Parish buses will be directed to RFK Stadium, where free shuttles to Nationals Park will be available starting at 5 a.m.

The Navy Yard Station, on the Green Line, is a block from the new ballpark. The new, expanded west entrance to the station, which is closest to the ballpark, will be exit-only before the Mass and entry-only afterward to move people through the station faster.

Metro officials said they expect the heaviest travel between 5 and 8 a.m. because people attending the Mass must go through security by 9 a.m. To accommodate the crowds, Metro will deploy extra Green Line trains after the Mass.

Still, Metro officials say to expect crowds on the trains and at the Navy Yard Station. In addition, Metrobus routes near the ballpark will be affected because of expected detours and road closures, they said.

The transit agency will have extra police at key locations and additional rail car, escalator and elevator service mechanics at such transfer stations as L'Enfant Plaza and Gallery Place.

Metro will sell a one-day commemorative pass for $9 that will be good for the entire day.

Initial sales of the passes will begin today at Metro sales offices at the Metro Center and Pentagon Metrorail stations and Metro headquarters at 600 Fifth St. NW.

On-Time Performance

Overall on-time performance of the train system is improving after a 17-month decline, according to a summary presented to Metro board members yesterday. Train service is not meeting the benchmark of having 95 percent of all trains run on schedule, but performance improved from 89 percent in November to 92 percent January.

The biggest improvement was on the Orange Line, where on-time performance for all time periods rose from 87 percent in November to 94 percent in January.

Improved track maintenance has reduced track fires, a big source of delays last year. Deputy General Manager Gerald Francis also said better management of headways, the scheduled frequencies between trains moving in the same direction, is helping performance.

Cellphone Service

A Metro board committee gave preliminary approval for the agency to solicit proposals next month for a wireless system that would let all riders talk on their cellphones while riding the subway. The full board is expected to sign off on the request at the end of the month. Currently, only customers with Verizon Wireless or Sprint roaming service can get reception underground.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company