Pope Francis smiles onboard the papal plane during his return to Rome, from Asuncion, Paraguay July 12, 2015. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

As many as 70 Metrobus routes will experience the papal effect next week.

Buses in downtown D.C. will be detoured. Some in upper Northwest and Northeast will be redirected to Metrorail stations. Some routes will be canceled.  Overall, thousands of bus riders are bracing for long waits at the bus stop or while aboard buses across the District on Sept. 23 and Sept. 24, when Pope Francis is in town.

“Basically anything that goes through the downtown area will see some detours, turn backs and delays,” Jim Hamre, Metro’s  director of bus planning said. “Customers should anticipate that schedules may be off. They need to plan accordingly.”

Metrobus is expected to run a regular weekday schedule, but the system that carries an average of 465,000 weekday passenger will be far from normal due to many anticipated road closures, security restrictions, and the pope’s rolling motorcade from his temporary home at the Vatican Embassy to major events at/and around the White House, U.S. Capitol, and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Riders who normally board a bus to downtown should consider transferring to Metro to get to the city core.  In some cases, they won’t have any other choice. For example, if you ride any of the buses that travel via Massachusetts Avenue in upper Northwest (37, N2, N3, N4, and N6), you have to rethink your commute– road closures along a stretch near the Vatican Embassy will prohibit buses in the corridor for the duration of the papal visit.

Metro has already announced several detours and service changes, and advises riders to find out where their buses are going to be detoured to avoid waiting at the stop for hours.  Passengers should also be aware that the disruptions will be different depending on the time and location.

For example, many bus routes in downtown are expected to be impacted the morning of Sept. 23 during the Popemobile parade that will close roads near the White House, including a portion of H Street, an important bus corridor.  Metro officials say buses on that corridor will likely detour to K Street.  The parade alone is expected to impact nearly 50 routes– among them some of the city’s highest-ridership lines like the 16th Street, 14th Street, Georgia Avenue, Wisconsin Avenue, and H Street/Benning Road  bus lines.

Although officials have called on people to telecommute, the Federal and local governments as well as D.C. Public Schools will be open. This means there will be the normal 15,000 public school students traveling on Metrobus, Metro  officials said. The students going to school in the vicinity of the Basilica in Northeast or in downtown areas need to plan ahead.

On Sept. 23, the major disruptions are expected downtown in the morning, but after the parade concludes Metrobus operations are expected to go back to normal. Then the Northeast routes will be challenged in the afternoon around Michigan Avenue near the basilica where as many as 25,000 people are expected for a 4 p.m. outdoor mass.

Pope Francis is seen more favorably than his predecessors among Catholics and non-Catholics according to recent polls. However, when he visits the United States beginning Sept. 22 in Washington, D.C., he will be greeted by a Catholic community that has been losing members. (Jayne W. Orenstein and Julie Percha/TWP)

“We will be doing a lot of bus to rail transfers to help folks who want to complete a trip past the downtown area,” Hamre sia.  Those passengers, Metro said, will be able to transfer to Metrorail for free. Riders will need to ask the bus operator for the transfer and present it to the Metro station manager when entering the rail system.

“Every line will be unique depending on which part of the city the pope is in and there will be temporary detours as the motorcade goes through like we have with any international figure,” Hamre said. “Be aware that things are going to be different and plan ahead accordingly.”

Here are some of the highlights:

Massachusetts Avenue service

The routes that travel on Massachusetts Avenue in upper Northwest will be affected because of a permanent closure of the northbound lanes, from Waterside Drive NW to Garfield Street NW for the duration of the pope’s visit. This closure will remain into effect before Pope Francis arrives next Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 22, until he departs for New York City on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 24.  This will impact the following routes:

  • The No. 37, which provides rush hour service from Friendship Heights to Archives, will not operate those two days.
  • The N-Line routes (N2, N3, N4, and N6) will be cut short to operate only between the Washington Cathedral and the Tenleytown and/or Friendship Heights Metro stations in upper Northwest.  Metro said bus riders should transfer to Metrorail to get to downtown. Metro officials say there  may be some periods when the N6 could be detoured to Dupont Circle.

Near the Basilica in NE

Several routes that service the Northeast corridor will be impacted near the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, on Wednesday Sept. 23. where the pope will celebrate an outdoor Mass. Several road will be closed from midnight to 8 p.m., including a portion of Michigan Avenue. Here are some bus impacts:

  • Service on the H-Line (H1, H2, H3, H4, H6 and H8) will be adjusted. Buses will operate a regular schedule but the service will be adjusted to skip the Brookland Metro station. The buses that begin and end at Brookland will end at Washington Hospital Center and will be detoured around the rail station. The closest stop to the basilica will be 12th and Monroe Street NE.
  • The H8 and H9 will detour via Washington Hospital Center and will make the regular stop at Rhode Island Metro station.
  • Metro will add additional trips on the H-Line between Columbia Heights Metro and Washington Hospital Center.  This will provide another connection for the guests attending the Mass
  • Routes D8, G8, r4, and 80 will likely have detours and long delays in the area near the basilica.
  • D.C. Circulator buses will provide service to an area near the basilica from the Fort Totten and Rhode Island Metro stations. Riders going to the Mass are encouraged to use this shuttle bus service to avoid the Brookland Station, which is the closest to the basilica, but is expected to be too crowded for the event.

Around the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, Sept. 24

The pope will address a joint session of Congress on Thursday morning and a security perimeter will be set around the Capitol Building restricting Metrobus service on Constitution Avenue NW, Louisiana Avenue NW, Independence Avenue SE/SW, Maryland Avenue SW, New Jersey Avenue NW, Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Delaware Avenue NE, East Capitol Street NE/NW, and First Street NE/NW.   These are some bus impacts:

  • Detours on routes 30N, 30S, 32, 34, 36, 39, 96, 97, D6, P6, and X1.

Other bus changes

The following routes will be shortened during the Papal visit. They will end at the closest Metrorail station.
Route                Service Operating Between              Closest Metrorail
5A Dulles Airport – D Street SW between 7th & 9th – L’Enfant Plaza
38B Ballston-MU – K Street & 17th Street NW – Farragut North
42 Mount Pleasant – Connecticut Avenue & Q Street NW – Dupont Circle
52 Takoma – 14th Street NW between Thomas Circle & L Street – McPherson Square
53 Takoma – I Street NW between 13th & 14th – McPherson Square
54 Takoma – 14th Street NW between Thomas Circle & L Street – McPherson Square
74 Nationals Park – D Street NW between 7th & 9th – L’Enfant Plaza
A2 Southern Avenue– D Street NW between 7th & 9th – L’Enfant Plaza
A6 Livingston– D Street NW between 7th & 9th    – L’Enfant Plaza
A8 Livingston– D Street NW between 7th & 9th –  L’Enfant Plaza
D4 Franklin Square– I Street NW between 13th & 14th – McPherson Square
D5 Ballston-MU – K Street & 17th Street NW – Farragut North
D6 Stadium Armory – C Street NE between 6th & 7th  – Union Station
G8 Avondale – I Street NW between 13th & 14th  –  McPherson Square
L2  Chevy Chase Circle – Connecticut Avenue & Q Street NW  –  Dupont Circle
N2 Friendship Heights – Connecticut Avenue & Q Street NW –  Dupont Circle
N6 Friendship Heights – Connecticut Avenue & Q Street NW –  Dupont Circle
P6  Anacostia – D Street & 7th Street SW  – L’Enfant Plaza
P17 Fort Washington Park & Ride – I Street NW between 13th & 14th  – McPherson Square
P19 Fort Washington Park & Ride – I Street NW between 13th & 14th – McPherson Square
S1 16th Street & Colorado Avenue NW – I Street & 13th Street NW – McPherson Square
S2 Silver Spring – I Street NW between 13th & 14th  –    McPherson Square
S4 Silver Spring – I Street NW between 13th & 14th   – McPherson Square
S9 Silver Spring – I Street NW between 13th & 14th    – McPherson Square
V1 Benning Heights – D Street SW between 7th & 9th – L’Enfant Plaza
W9 U.S. Coast Guard – D Street & 7th Street SW – L’Enfant Plaza
W13 Fort Washington Forest – I Street NW between 13th & 14th – McPherson Square
X2 Minnesota Ave – H Street & 7th Street NW – Gallery Place-Chinatown

For a full list and updates visit Metro’s Web site.