“Riders should expect significant crowding aboard trains and at rail stations near Papal events.”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Josh


“Metro is preparing for large crowds and extensive traffic detours during Pope Francis’ three-day visit to Washington, D.C. Tuesday, September 22, through Thursday, September 24.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend events during the Papal visit, which will likely result in crowding and delays on trains and buses, and could produce near Inauguration ridership levels at selected stations.

While many regular commuters are expected—and encouraged—to adjust their work schedules or take advantage of telecommuting, Metro will take steps to provide additional train service during non-peak hours Wednesday and Thursday during the Papal visit. (Metro does not have the ability to add significant capacity during the traditional morning and evening rush hours.)

Riders should expect significant crowding aboard trains and at rail stations near Papal events.

Due to crowds following Papal events, riders may need to wait extended periods of time–possibly hours–before re-entering the Metrorail system at certain stations. In addition, bus customers should expect extensive detours and service adjustments as a result of events and associated road closures. All riders are encouraged to allow extra travel time during the Papal visit.

Metro is continuing to work with its external partners to plan for the Mass at the Basilica on Wednesday afternoon, which is expected to place extraordinary ridership pressure on the Red Line at the height of rush hour. Brookland Station, the closest station to the event, is the smallest Red Line station with the ability to accommodate fewer than 5,000 boardings per hour under normal conditions. In order to provide alternates to Brookland Station for the more than 25,000 ticketed guests, Metro and the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) are developing plans for supplemental shuttle bus service from two adjacent Red Line stations: Fort Totten and Rhode Island Avenue. Details regarding shuttle bus service will be provided at a later date, but guests attending the Basilica event are encouraged to consider travel options other than Brookland Station. In addition, Brookland Station may be designated as “exit only” for a period of time prior to the Papal event, and “entry only” following the event. This step will effectively double the number of riders that can be accommodated per hour.”

57 Comment

  • This has disaster written all over it. Metro can handle large crowds (inaguration etc) but with the delays and breakdowns lately, this sounds like a mess.

  • Oh gosh, I didn’t realize this was so close already. Gird your loins! Even though I’m RC I plan to stay far, far away.

  • The Papal visit may offer to Feds a miraculous “snow day” in 90 degrees September, but the miracle of a functional Metro system is beyond even the Holiest man’s reach…

  • Understatement of the Century.

  • I shall part the masses like the Red Sea to get to my train.

  • I’m a concerned Brooklander and do not understand why mass has to be at the Basilica when our metro station is so small. Could they not do this downtown or anywhere better suited? Why aren’t they planning better?
    This is going to be awful and I fear for my home and don’t know how I’m going to run my errands that day with parking and traffic the way it is.

    • I don’t mean to be rude… but I cannot tell if you are joking or not. The basilica is the largest Catholic church in North America. The Catholic University of America is chartered by the vatican, and the campus runs up against the basilica grounds. John Paul visited in 1979 and Benedict a few years back, this isn’t anything new.

      • I have lived here for 15 years, and I just visited the Basilica for the first time. It is truly impressive, a magnificent building that you can spend a great deal of time in. Although I was late to check it out, it will now be part of any tour I give to friends and family who visit me here. Highly recommended!

      • +1 “I cannot tell if you are joking or not…”

    • Have you tried this new idea called “planning ahead”?

      It is this neat concept where you get errands done ahead of time, so that when something happens you already are ok.

    • Wait – you can’t understand why, when the Pope visits DC, he will hold mass at the largest Catholic church in North America? You think they should hold it in a conference room downtown?
      And you “fear for your home?” Why? You think the ravening hordes are going to plunder your residence? It’s a Catholic mass, not a Visigoth convention.
      And finally, with all due respect, go to the grocery store and the dry cleaner before the Pope gets here. This is not rocket science. The world will not end if you can’t make it to Trader Joe’s for a few days.

      • “I fear for my home”
        This is quite possibly the funniest thing I have heard all week. While most of us are concerned with stray bullets, people kicking in doors, etc, this person fears the suburban masses coming to see the Pope.

        • Oh god! The Catholics are coming! They’ll destroy EVERYTHING.

          • HAHAHAHAHA thanks for that

          • I Dont Get It

            Think of the fish fries that could break out!

          • I’m guarding my uterus.

          • I Dont Get It

            Me too!

          • Although, to be fair, I’ve already hit the “Catholic Minimum” with the kids, so perhaps they will just ignore me and not sniff me out… kinda like when Carol in the Walking Dead covered herself in Walker blood to avoid detection?

          • I Dont Get It

            So whats the Catholic minimum? I grew p in a German Catholic farming community (we were the token Methodists) and some of those families werere huge. The record was 17!

          • As an Irish Catholic, I was always told minimum 3, 5 was ideal, and anything over? Well that get you free tuition at the local parish school. I am no longer a practicing Catholic, but I have a friend my age who just had her fourth child, and another a few years younger than me who feels guilty for not having a fifth yet.

          • Many large (over 10 kids) in my community growing up, now I wonder how in the world their parents managed! Catholic families for the most part, but also just big families. We had “only” five kids in my (Catholic) family 🙂

        • +1000. Unless you or someone in your family has a medical emergency, I’m pretty sure you will find a way to do what you need to do or just stay home. I can’t believe we’re NIMBY-ing about the Pope.

          • This is spillover from NIMBYing on the brookland civics association threads. I’ve been floored about it happening for days. The freakin’ pope! Someone (jokingly; condescendingly) suggested they should write letters to the mayor and council to get the mass cut short like their neighbors to the south did the Gogo show in Langdon Park.

          • I need some entertainment – can you share those Brookland Civics Association threads? Or just the highlights? Pretty please?

          • LOL – for real?!?! I’m with dcd, please share for our amusement!

          • I live in Brookland (not *that* close to CUA) and I’m not usually a NIMBY, but I just don’t see how this is going to work, except poorly. I mean, no skin off my back, I’m not going ANYWHERE for those two days (and may bug out early on the 22nd if things seem to be getting hairy), but I just don’t see how 25,000 ticketed people plus all those without tickets are going to get here. I actually did the math earlier, with Metro’s statements and knowing the parking situation in the neighborhood, and unless 2+2=400, it ain’t gonna happen. I expect a lot of news coverage of folks upset that they just couldn’t get to the mass. Again, it doesn’t really mean anything to me (no plans to go, no plans to leave home, no real concern except that we’ll probably have to clean up some litter), but I expect the aftermath to be rather amusing. I have to agree that, no matter how beautiful or important the basilica is, this event would go better if scheduled for one of the large venues downtown (Verizon, Nats Park) or if there were fewer tickets available.
            In an effort to be less negative and more helpful, I would suggest that if you plan to attend, you plan to arrive by 1 PM and expect to spend at least 3 hours getting home afterwards. At least then, you have a snowball’s chance of being able to use the Brookland Metro and not have to walk a long way/wait forever for a shuttle/sit in traffic instead of attending. We have a number of new restaurants in close vicinity…show them some love while you make the best of a bad situation.

          • ^*Show them some love and BE PATIENT AND TIP GENEROUSLY while you make the best of a bad situation. Those workers are going to have to fight the crowds to get to their REQUIRED shifts while people like me sit comfortably at home and people like you attend an event, and are probably going to be running their hinds off for 8 hours or more. And, remember, they have no control over the fact that the kitchen is slammed and there’s a 1.5 hour wait list.

          • JoDa – Oh, I completely agree with you! (Does anything EVER really work out well when metro is involved? Heh.) I just thought it was pretty funny that brklndr seemed to expect the Pope to take her home and schedule into consideration. It’s not a war zone, it’s a mass, and it’ll mess up several hours of a day, and then it’ll be mostly over. I think you have the right idea!

        • +1 There will be no car-b-ques or rioting because of the Pope’s visit. The only thing you really have to fear from hordes of Catholics is proselytizing.

      • LOL at “not a visigoth convention”

      • I’m literally laughing out loud, this thread is the funniest thing I’ve read today.

      • Right. Planning ahead. Spoken like someone who clearly doesn’t have kids.

        • I have kids. Their school is near CU. I have planned ahead for them (and me) to play hooky on the 23rd. We’re going to do something fun in the ‘burbs that day. We all get Inauguration Day off, why shouldn’t we take a day off for a once-in-a-decade visit from the single most powerful religious leader in the world? For heaven’s sake, Brklndr.

        • Ummm. I’m a mom. Of three. We have weathered many storms – literal and figurative. I fail to see how a Papal visit scheduled many months ago equals a catastrophe requiring you to fear for your home. Oh no – the errands may need to be done a day earlier! or a day later! Really?!

        • Are you kidding? Prior to kids, life is easy to live on a spur of the moment basis (if you want to). Having kids makes planning essential. No big deal if get home and I find I’m out of food, but there darn well better be formula, diapers, etc. I can run off to a meeting at the last minute, but if you’re taking the kids somewhere you need to plan on leaving much earlier, with a lot more stuff.
          I absolutely echo wdc – “For heaven’s sake, Brklndr.”

        • Doh! This comment will do nothing but make you sound like a not-very-competent parent. Better stop digging now.

        • Well, someone should tell the Pope to move his event. I mean, come on, Brklndr has kids! How can he possibly hold mass in his vacinity?

        • In fairness, being trapped in one’s own house with one’s children is a particular type of hell. (Seriously. My kids have the day off, and normally I’d plan a fun day with trips to Ikea and one of the indoor pools. But not knowing what traffic will be like, or if buses will be the slightest bit reliable, I feel like we must stay within walking distance of home. Which is doable, but not popular.)

          • Agreed. However, this was an even that could be planned for, not like a snow day or water main break or something else that would keep you unexpectedly trapped.

        • You live in the city. You chose that life. There are some serious perks but there are also inconveniences.

        • Unless one of your kids is the messiah 2.0; I’m pretty sure they are going to be fine – along with your house. Get all your milk, toilet paper, eggs, and bread the day or two before – then just stay home. If they get bored…entertain them. If they get sick – all the best getting to the doctor.
          This is going to be a pain only for those that have to work and those attending. Other than that – relax.

        • Yesterday (in the stroller discussion), there was a lot of talk about how the childless need to have more consideration/compassion for those who do have kids. This right here proves why sometimes that is difficult. Brklndr wants the Pope (THE POPE!) to reschedule his plans because she has kids. I know all parents (most, really) are not this self-absorbed, but people like Brklndr are giving the rest of you a bad name.

      • +1000 for “Visigoth convention.” I would totally go to that.

    • The Pope, in the words of Gretchen Weiners, “I can’t help it that I’m so popular.”

    • We’ll all pray for you Brooklander.

    • I bet you’re so angry that they built that big church and that university after you bought your house. If only you’d known that something like this could happen.

    • Verily I say unto thee,
      I am very afraid for your home (because that’s something to be scared of, do you think he’s going to set it on fire or spray bible verses on it?), your children (resilient little buggers who would probably delight in taking a play day and getting out of the area) and your parking situation. But mostly I am concerned about your apparent lack of ability to plan ahead when the Pope decides to visit. I wonder what happens when spur-of-the-moment visits by lesser people deign to grace you with their presence? Hopefully you’ll survive this personal affront by the Pope, and also let us know that you’ve made it through, successfully. Be brave!

    • Don’t move to Brookland if you don’t want to deal with the Basilica…

  • I Dont Get It

    If only they would move his Mass to EOTR then no one on this board would have to be bothered with it.

  • I love everything about this thread.

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