Monday, March 03, 2008


You've heard it. I've heard it. Has anyone in the Greater Washington, DC Area not received the word yet?

"Take Metro". Take Metro--its the most convenient and safest way to get to and from New Nationals Park.

Team President Stan Kasten has repeated this phrase from the very moments The Lerner's took over Our Washington Nationals.

And, Metro has known this upcoming March 29th Opening Date was coming for a long, long time.

Has not Metro responded positively--each and every time Metro has been questioned about its ability to step up to the plate? Everything will be fine, they continually state. How many times has The Transit Agency claimed they are not only committed to a quality effort--but expect to prove how reliable the system can be for patrons. Metro General Manager John Catoe has continually stated these words.

"Think outside the car," is Metro's mantra.

Well, Metro's announcement that now Fans must stagger their times when leaving The New South Capitol Street Ballpark to alleviate crowding at The Navy Yard Station is not what anyone should be hearing just three weeks before the first game. That's unacceptable. Once again--a negative against the transit agency.

Yes, I understand that The Green Line will be overcrowded. Yes, I understand during Rush Hour there will be a major taxing of the transit system. And, I understand that no one but The City Council and Major League Baseball wanted the ballpark at this particular location--in the first place. But, South Capitol Street is the spot everyone is stuck with. And now is not the time--to once again--start making excuses.

Metro is a fine system, but it continually fails in customer service. When The African Queen called me this afternoon to tell me the news about Metro (I am away on assignment all week), I just started laughing. Whether Metro can provide top flight service to patrons of Our Washington Nationals and their daily communting customers--they owe EVERYONE the right to know The Transit Agency is doing the very best for each and everyone holding a farecard. No one should be worrying about when to leave the ballpark. The point is to enjoy yourself and be entertained. Not--to fret over getting home. That's absurd.

No--not now--after all that's been said concerning parking and transportation issues at New Nationals Park.

I don't care about Metro's excuses. Just like I don't care for their weekend service these days. On Saturdays and Sundays most every line is single tracking for repair--30 to 45 minutes delays are customary. How much more inconvenience will those delays add to Metro's now expected crush of fans at The Navy Yard, L'enfant Plaza and Capitol South Stations on game days. You know--that weekend work is going to continue.

Frustrating is the only way to describe Metro. The Quasi-Governmental Agency could do so much better. Yet, they continually fail where it counts the most--Customer Service.

That's sad, but not unexpected.

PS--I am in Texas right now for Tuesday's Presidential Primary--after working an assignment in the Orlando Area over the past few days. Although I have a lot in the can to write about about Our Washington Nationals--its conceivable I will not be able to post again until Thursday. There is just not enough time in the day right now. How ironic though--that I drove right past Kissimmee and The Houston Astros Ballpark yesterday while Our Washington Nationals were playing there. No, I couldn't stop--but it didn't keep me from chuckling over the situation at hand.


Anonymous said...

I guess the City is hoping for some blow out games to start the season.
I'm hoping to get some Tix to the GW game on the 22d. Not sure if we'll take Metro or the RFK bus.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure Metro isn't trying to manage expectations here. At RFK, people's arrival times were staggered on weeknights from the ballpark opening at 5:30 to about the third inning. The Nationals will be opening the park this year even earlier, which may spread out arrival times even more.

At the new ballpark, it would help if Metro upgrades the N22line to get people to Capitol South, Eastern Market and Union Station. But the fact that I'll have a choice of stations after games (even if it means a 15 minute walk) will be an improvement over RFK. At RFK, it was about 10 minutes to get to the only station, although I'll give the Metro staff credit for moving us through. Certainly there was nothing to encourage staggering departure times, since there was nothing to do at RFK after games, and it wasn't an inviting place to hang around.

I'm hoping the Nationals will be able to make some ballpark amenities available after games, (if nothing else, there should be more space in the team stores). I'm also looking forward to development around the stadium over the next few years. With something to do in the vicinity, and some people moving around in the area, lingering at the ballpark might become enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

"Metro is a fine system," Let me correct you, SBF. Metro was once a fine system but in recent years it has become an overcrowded, filthy and dysfunctional system run by a bunch of retards. I feel sorry for 81 game season ticket holders who are held hostage to such a mess. As a regular commuter on the Orange line from VA, I have to admit there is only one thing in life that I hate more than Metro and that's Peter Angelos.

Anonymous said...

Janet, 15 minute walks to get to and from the new stadium can be very dangerous.

Anonymous said...

I'm not apologist, but Metro is the BEST public transportation in the country. Check out Boston, Philly, Chicago, or even NYC and see if you don't agree. Maybe it speaks to the pathetic state of US public transit, but sometimes complaining about something you should be counting your lucky stars about comes off as spoiled.

I will say though, that Metro damn well better divert some trains to the Green line during rush hour. They will eventually, but I don't think they understand the backlash they will get get if they don't.

Anonymous said...

From the discussion the other day about helmet sundaes, please note that Gifford's will be serving a helmet sundae at the new ballpark.

Anonymous said...

Metro has already stated just a couple of days ago that they will not put additional trains or subway cars on the Green Line during rush hour on game nights. They stated that they are unable to do so because they don't have any extra cars available. If you don't think it is a dysfunctional sytem, check to see how many cars they have in the maintenance facility that are not operational. Your tax dollars paid for those cars. By the way, in NYC you don't wait ten minutes or more for a subway car at rush hour, only to find out you can't get on because it is packed. Take the blinders off.

SenatorNat said...

I suggest that for all persons who can show a return Metro fare card, that there be no cut-off on beer sales until 30 minutes after the game concludes - this shall enable enough patrons to "stagger" their way to Metro for their ride home.

While in my usual half-witty manner, I intended for this to be ha-ha funny, it actually is a splendid idea!!

As to SBF's commentary, better to push the powers-that-be a little bit NOW than for the Post to have canon fodder for the pre-written lead story highlighting perils of Metro travel for attending Nationals Park opener, (like they did about the long lines for food and drink on Opening Nightv.Arizona 2005): "New Park(ing)and Metro Errors Result in Double Loss for Nats Fans"

Metro is emphasizing that it shall hold each car at the station for 90 seconds to ensure that another 12 persons can "pack" into every car, thus adding to capacity...Have they considered hiring those Tokyo subway pushers to help push folks in - a nice unnerving and relaxing way to get excited about going to the game with our small kids, certainly...Now - of course, coming back, there shall be a real crunch!!

Trust in parking at good old RFK and taking the free shuttle. All Good.

Chuck B. said...


I've got to tell you that, your posts almost always crack me up especially the, Trust in....All Good. endings.

And you are usually, as Marisa Tomei's character said in "My Cousin Vinny" "Dead on balls accurate" with your assessments.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I don't know how to format the link, but this is the story WTOP referenced. I didn't see it in the Examiner print edition, but the website time stamp says it was posted around 3:00am Monday morning.

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - Metro has extra train service planned for the Nationals Sunday home opener this month, but riding the rail system to the weekday, night games could be painful.

The transit agency expects the number of riders on the Green Line, which serves the Navy Yard station near the ballpark, to more than triple on game days. But Metro can't add more cars to that section of the system during the week because all of its 820 railcars are committed to rush hour service, officials said.

Nationals night games are scheduled to begin at 7:10 p.m.

District and Nationals officials are banking heavily on fans using Metro to get to the 41,000-seat stadium. Officials last week estimated more than half of the crowd — or more than 20,000 people — will take Metro to the games.

The Green Line's 20 six- and eight-car trains currently serve about 6,000 riders in the direction of the stadium during rush hour, Metro rail chief Jim Hughes said.

"It's going to be a learning experience all over again," Hughes said. "We handled it [at RFK] and we've learned things. For instance the key thing is to fill up the trains when they come in, so we might hold them on the platform for 90 seconds instead of getting them in and out as fast as we can."

Metro estimates 10 to 20, more people will crowd on each railcar on the way to games, giving the agency the capability of carrying an extra 10,000 to 12,000 people an hour, spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said.

Hughes said Metro moved upwards of 20,000 people to RFK stadium on the Blue and Orange lines for sold-out games during the Nationals 2005 opening season.

"The first couple of weeks were problematic," he said. "We were learning, they were learning. There was a feeling-out period, so we're going to go through that again."

Hughes said fans would also learn to stagger their departure times after the games so that not everyone will reach the 15,000-an-hour capacity Navy Yard station at once.

An Briosca Mor said...

senatornat, I believe it's an MLB rule that beer sales have to end when they do, i.e. at the end of the seventh inning. The Nats probably couldn't change it even if they wanted to. Metro needs to forget about its "linger after the game" plan until the neighborhood around the stadium is built up and there are places for fans to linger. This season, they should be treating it just as they did RFK, i.e. a barren wasteland that they need to move people out of as quickly as possible as soon as the game is over.

Anonymous said...

The thing about Metro that I question is the limited expansion of the bus service. Only change being the N22 coming from Union Station? I guess this addresses the Red Line patrons and the Orange/Blue patrons can walk to Capital South. I realize that RFK had only 1 subway station within walking distance, but it had a number of buses that could move people (and did) back to downtown up through Dupont (D6, 96). I would think that extending the Circulator from the Waterfront to the Statium along M St. would be an easy solution and alleviate alot of the crowding at the Navy Yard. It certainly would handle some of the flow coming from Downtown and might get people more experienced with the Circulator.

BTW: I have followed this site since mid-last year and I frankly love it. The enthusiasm of SBF is very infectious.