Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Way To Go

First, he strode in flashing his Red Curly "W" SmartTrip Card. Then, he not only reminded everyone to "Go Metro", but it's "The Only Way To Go!!". Later, he answered every single question from the awaiting media--while standing by for a train. Onboard, he engaged an Atlanta Fan wearing a Falcons Cap--while chatting up Our Washington Nationals--looking for new customers.
Then, he took the opportunity presented to pump up Bike Valet Service at Nationals Park. You see-- this Metro rider--was using the service with his bicycle. "You coming to Nats Park this season?"--he said to the passenger. "Yeah," came the response, "and considering the price of gas--my bike my be the only way to go!!"

"Now, there's a man who understands the situation at hand", replied Our Team President (smiling broadly).

Yes, Stan Kasten was riding Metro this afternoon. A planned Photo Op and Media Availability to promote Public Transportation to New Nationals Park and the New Commemorative Nationals Metro SmartTrip Cards. Along for the ride with Mr. Kasten, Metro's Deputy General Manager--Gerald Francis, Metro Board Chairman Christopher Zimmerman, and The District's Metro Board Member--Anthony Giancola.

Also, My Best Friend!! SCREECH!! Yes, even Screech!! was inside the Metro System--putting on his usual show. Their goal--to ride The Green Line from Gallery Place Station to Navy Yard Station.

And you can bet--the local media showed up to watch--ask questions and go along for the brief ride. But not before--Mr. Kasten nearly stepped on a Yellow Line Train--in the opposite direction--toward Ft. Totten. Thankfully, SBF reminded him--we are heading in the other direction. Everyone laughed.

A seven minute ride from The Verizon Center/Chinatown stop. “Seven minutes," Mr. Kasten proclaimed. " We would have driven only about three blocks in the car by now. Listen, any ride on Metro is easy as can be. Even when (the Metro Cars) are crowded, it moves easily. In fact, I hope its crowded for every single game. And with the SmartCard—it’s the way to go." Of course--no one was transferring--under this situation. Although Mr. Kasten told me he travelled to Gallery Place via The Red Line (Farragut North) to catch up with the media.

Ironically--after arriving and walking up to street level at the Navy Yard Metro-- idling next to the station is the N22 Metrobus. The modified service which will run from Union Station to Nationals Park as an alternative for fans attending games. Whereupon, being the showman that he is--Mr. Kasten-- promptly strode out in the rain—to promote the N22 Bus. Perfect timing and apparently not planned.

Later, Metro informed me-that the new Special SmartTrip Cards will be available for purchase--ONLINE--beginning Thursday, March 20th. On Opening Night--Metro Employees will be selling the commemorative access cards at The Navy Yard stop for any patron that wishes to purchase one.

But, before this roadshow hit the Metro tracks--Mr. Kasten took questions from the assembled media--on the lower platform of The Gallery Place Metro Stop. Here is the transcript from that availability--verbatim.

“It’s the way to go!! We have one of the best Metro Systems in the world!! And, I have been on Metro Systems all around the world. It doesn’t get much better than this. We are really lucky.”

(Question) Half The Navy Yard Station is still a little shaky right now?

“Ah, but next week we are opening up the important half (West Entrance on Half Street). We are really excited about that. That half is right on our front door—making it easier and the best way to get to the ballpark.”

(Question) The entire Metro stop will be open for Opening Day?

“Absolutely. It’s kind of important to us. And, it’s really important to them (Metro). So, you bet. It’s going to be perfect and in time for our first game.”

(Question) Tell us (The Media) why we are here?

“We are here to emphasize the point that the best, easiest, cheapest, most convenient way to get to the New Nationals Park—is by Metro. If you want to drive, want to find a place to park—there are 57,000 parking spaces throughout The METRO SYSTEM (Not around Nationals Park). That will always be your best way to get there.”

(Question) How are you going to get to the games?

“I have my Smart Trip Card right here.” (flashing the Red Curly “W” Card)

(Question) And you are going to use it?

“I use it all the time already. I use it on Metro all the time. When I am home in Atlanta—I use my MARTA card. Its just a great and easy way to go.”

(Question) If someone does decide to drive down to the stadium?

“Well, we have parking for season ticket holders. We have Free Parking at RFK Stadium. We are also accommodating people that want to bike to the park—with a lot of bike racks and even Valet Bike Service. But again—the cheapest, quickest way, easiest, more convenient way to get to the ballpark—will always be Metro.”

(Question) Are there any other stops you are recommending other than Navy Yard?

“They all work, but everyone should get off at Navy Yard—that’s the most important thing.”

(Question) What about Metro adding extra cars and trains?

“They are doing all that. They are going to handle the capacity (as a train pulls into the Gallery Place Lower Level Platform). Metro has a great schedule. They are prepared to carry all the crowds we could possibly have at Nationals Park.”

“Let’s get on the train!!”

(SBF) It’s going in the wrong direction toward Ft. Totten.

(Recovering nicely) “You see, I love Metro—I will get on ANY TRAIN!” (Everyone Laughing)

“We are also going to have people at the station (Navy Yard) directing folks to get there. It’s going to be pretty easy. Navy Yard Station will be prominent all throughout the system. I just spoke at the Branch Avenue Station for all the people in Prince Georges County—the easiest way for them to get to the ballpark. People coming from Maryland—Former Orioles Fans!!—just drive to the Greenbelt Station—zip right into the ballpark—it couldn’t be easier.” (as another train pulls into the station heading southbound)

“We OK with this one (SBF)?”

No—that’s a yellow line train to Huntington. (SBF)

“You will let me know?”

Yeah, we want the next one--to Branch Avenue. (SBF)

(Question) “What about lighting. Is there still any concern about not enough lighting around the ballpark and neighborhoods?

“No, the neighborhood has really been spiffed up with sidewalks, lights and guards directing the different foot traffic. It’s going to be great. It’s going to be terrific.”

(SBF) Will there be any Taxi Stands at the new ballpark?

“There will be a location for taxis to queue. Yes, but we are still working on the exact details. And there are going to be people who will want their drivers to drop them off. We are working on that. Also, we are working on Charter Bus parking. So, all of those things are still coming together.”

(SBF) How about the daily parking?

“Daily parking we are still working on. It’s not definite yet. We are going to have some in time—probably not for that Opening Day—but soon thereafter. We are still working on that issue.”

(Question) Did you say you are going to have Nationals employees at the Metro Stop directing people?

“No—Metro Employees.”

(Question) How many parking spaces did you say you have around the stadium?

“Around the stadium—we are going to have about 5000—which should accommodate, easily, the Season Ticket requests we have. And, we hope—in time—maybe not Opening Day—we will accommodate non-season ticket parking, daily parking.”

(Question) So, if you just have a ticket for that Opening Day game—you are not guaranteed a spot to park?

“That’s why we have Metro—it’s perfect. Metro has 57,000 spaces at their stations. Or, virtually unlimited parking at RFK—then grab the quick, easy and free shuttle.”

(Question) Are you at all concerned about how busy it (Navy Yard) is going to be after the game—when everyone is filing out at the same time?

“I think we are prepared for that. Metro has extra cars, extra trains, extra mechanics standing by just in case there are any glitches. And not just at Navy Yard, but also at the key transfer points. They have spent an awful lot of time in working out the details.”

(Question) “Any provisions for safety for anyone getting off at Navy Yard and walking to the station?

“It (Navy Yard) is right on our front door. That will not be a problem at all. But, yes—we will have people all through. MPD (Metropolitan Police) have been involved. Every possible agency in our city—right from The Mayor’s Office--all the way through. Every agency within the city has been working with us in a cooperative effort. They really have pitched in. We couldn’t be happier with the cooperation we’ve got. It’s going to safe, convenient, easy and an awful lot of fun.”

(Question) For fans that are planning to utilize the parking at RFK, are there any concerns on nights when DC United also plays there?

“”There are going to be a couple of nights when both teams will be using it (Lot 8). We are working on separate plans for those occasions. The first one is not until the end of April. So, we don’t have the plan to announce today. But, we know it’s coming and we are preparing.”

(SBF) If someone uses the shuttle from RFK—and needs to leave Nationals Park in the middle of a game--can that person get up and catch the shuttle back to Lot 8?

“Yes, continuous shuttles.”

(Question) Are the trains going to run later on for weeknight game nights?

“Yeah, they are going to be accommodating to whatever the time of the game ends. Sure, but what you all have to keep in mind is that this is the business that Metro is in. They want as many customers as possible. This is how they make their money. They are stretching every way they can to accommodate as many customers as possible.”

(SBF) Including handling the transfer points like L’Enfant Plaza Station which could be very crowded after a game?

“I am sure all our transfer points are going to have a higher volume than usual. But, this is what Metro does. They are ready for it.”

(Question) How about a baseball question while we are in a lull?

“I will try to field that question.”

How’s Shawn Hill?

“Shawn Hill looked terrific today. I can report that to you. We are very excited about that. We just got an email about an hour ago—so that is exciting. Opening Day is just 10 days away—so it’s likely he will be on The Disabled List—but not certain yet.”

(SBF) How about LoDuca?

“LoDuca is playing in a Minor League Game Today—and is catching for us in a Major League Game tomorrow. He appears to be just fine.”

(Question) Wily Mo Pena?

“Wily Mo—We don’t want to rush him because obliques don’t get better if you stretch it too early. We have to shut him down for a few weeks. He should be back the second week of April.”

(Question) How difficult is it to go from an exhibition game to Opening Night without any time to see how the new ballpark works?

“it’s not ideal—but it’s the cards we were dealt and we are going to play them.”

With that answer--The Green Line Train to Branch Avenue arrived on the platform. The Photo Opportunity was at hand.

Go Metro!! It's The Only Way To Go--according to Stan Kasten and Our Washington Nationals.

1 comment:

SoloVita said...

SBF: As usual...great report! You are an invaluable resource for Nats info on topic angles that no one else in Nat's Nation is pursuing.
But, please excuse me, you need aneditor! Today's print article/entry was way too long for the amount of basic kernel info.
Sorry for the somewhat harsh personal criticism, but rule # 1: blog=brevity.
But please never stop posting!

In fact, Mr. Stan should put you on the Nat's part-time payroll. So until he does, how about a late round of stadium pix? You're also the best photographer among the regular Nat bloggers, so please fill in the gap for those of us who probably won't make it down to the stadium until mid-June.