But at a Tuesday morning breakfast with D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser and members of the D.C. Council, Evans — who also is a council member— said that he fears Metro riders will be stranded if the Nats’ games go late.
“So, in the Bruce Springsteen concert, or Billy Joel concert, or the Caps game for the Stanley Cup or coming up very quickly when the Nats get to the World Series,” Evan asked at the breakfast, “will Metro stay open past midnight which is really 11:20 when you have to get a whole mass train out of Dodge?”
Evans said he hasn’t had support from fellow board members who don’t feel as strongly about protecting late-night service.
“I raised it at the last board meeting about an exception during SafeTrack,” Evans said, “to keep it open if the — when — the Nationals get to the World Series, and the board was not supportive.”
(Aside: Kudos to Evans for his unshakeable, speak-it-into-existence confidence that the Nationals will get to the World Series!)
From the start of SafeTrack, Wiedefeld has said he doesn’t want to winnow down any of the time available to maintenance crews — hence why he temporarily canceled late-night service on Friday and Saturday nights. He even turned down the U.S. Marines, who pleaded with him to open several hours early on the morning of the Marine Corps Marathon — to no avail.
Wiedefeld’s argument: Extending the hours for one special event would create a slippery slope, opening the floodgates for requests for other other scheduling exceptions.
“The World Series is not the Billy Joel concert, it’s not the Marine Corps Marathon,” Evans added on Tuesday. “It’s a national event that really highlights our city. It’s going to look foolish if 15,000 people have to get up and leave the game. … It’s just an embarrassment that as the nation’s capital, one of the major cities in the world, our subway system closes. It’s crazy.”
For what it’s worth, Wiedefeld was asked about the Nationals issue at a meeting of the Metro board in early September, and he said he wouldn’t entirely rule out the prospect of providing late trains for upcoming baseball games.
“I think we have to be extremely careful,” Wiedefeld said at the time. “We have to set up a program where we constantly inspect and maintain the system. And if we keep chipping away at those hours to do that, I think that’s very dangerous. So, yeah, I think we have to look at that individually. I don’t want to commit to it right now.”
“So if I’m understanding,” responded Metro Board member Kathryn Porter, “you’re saying that there’s no guarantee, but we might consider it on a case-by-case basis?”
“Exactly,” Wiedefeld said.
Despite Wiedefeld’s previous vague nod to the possibility of playoffs trains, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said Tuesday that there are no current plans to keep the system open late for baseball — even post-season baseball.
“Metro’s operating plans have not changed,” Stessel said. “As the [general manager] announced back in May, in order to support SafeTrack, there is a temporary moratorium on early openings and late closings, which eat into critical maintenance windows.”
Evans said he’s got serious concerns about what will happen if the transit system shuts down before the end of the game. And he thinks Nats fans need to do their part to make it clear to Metro just how unfortunate it will be if Wiedefeld doesn’t make an exception.
“As we progress in the playoffs we may need to weigh in — and weigh in heavily — if we want to keep Metro open past midnight during the World Series,” Evans told the breakfast crowd. “Keep in mind the World Series is a late game, starts at 8 o’clock, commercials are a little long. The prospect of it going past 11:20 is great.”
“Can you imagine the World Series is the 8th inning of the game, the game is tied, it’s the seventh game of the World Series and 15,000 people in the stadium have to get up and leave?” Evans asked. “It’s kind of a humorous gross exaggeration, but nonetheless, something we have to consider as we go forward.”