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TRANSPORTATION

Cheers Not Just for the Home Team but for Timely Rails, Clear Roads

Legions of Nationals fans use Metrorail to arrive at the ballpark for the home opener, having heeded repeated advice to use public transportation. One commuter who rode from the Pentagon called the experience "absolutely perfect."
Legions of Nationals fans use Metrorail to arrive at the ballpark for the home opener, having heeded repeated advice to use public transportation. One commuter who rode from the Pentagon called the experience "absolutely perfect." (By Nikki Kahn -- The Washington Post)
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By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 31, 2008

At the west end of Metro's Navy Yard stop yesterday, the main portals to the glory of the new Nationals ballpark, there were repairmen for the escalators, repairmen for the Farecard machines, repairmen for the elevator and a special bag for blood-borne pathogens.

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"In case somebody falls," a Metro spokeswoman said.

Outside, to greet Metro riders to the Nationals' opening-night game, there was a four-piece Dixieland band, a barbershop quartet and a war protester named Liz Hourician wearing a giant papier-mache head of President Bush.

"Five layers!" of papier-mache, she called from inside the head.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer appeared in the crowd, then vanished, to fans' cries of "Wolf! Wolf!"

All in all, there was plenty of entertainment, Washington-style, lots of preparation and a minimum of trouble for most fans heading to the team's inaugural game yesterday at the gleaming new cathedral of baseball on South Capitol Street. The repair people were hardly needed.

Most things went well yesterday, as well as for the team's exhibition game Saturday, apparently because many people departed for the game early. Metro also went to great lengths to smooth the trip with extra cars and dozens of guides and announcements in the stations.

In addition, some fans said they scouted their Metro and driving routes days in advance to make sure they knew where they were going.

The journey home last night started uneventfully, with hundreds of departures before the game ended by those with young children, people who had to work today or people worried about overcrowding at game's end.

Thousands of diehards who stayed to the thrilling end jammed the Navy Yard Station and the departing trains, forcing officials to briefly halt access to the station. But the crowd thinned after about a half-hour, and few other problems were reported.

"It was wonderful," North Potomac lawyer Jeff Van Grack, 54, said on his way home last night with son Alan, 25. "It was all that it was geared up to be. . . . It was nothing but a good experience all along."

As arriving fans emerged from the Metro station yesterday and gazed upon the new stadium for the first time, many paused to take photographs. A few gasped.


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