Metro ready for papal visit, but riders not confident about agency's ability to handle large crowds
WASHINGTON - Signs everywhere are warning drivers about street closures and likely traffic delays during Pope Francis’ visit to the nation’s capital. But the question many have is whether Metro will be able to handle the expected huge crowds.
The leader of the Catholic Church arrives in the District Tuesday and tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people are expected at the pope's scheduled events.
This means road closures, parking restrictions and a recommendation by the District Department of Transportation for people to rely on Metro.
“I have absolutely zero confidence in Metro,” said Alexandria resident Ken Archbold.
But from track issues to smoke in tunnels and even fires, Metro's string of recent issues isn’t inspiring much faith for riders.
“Whenever there is a large crowd, whenever there is a little bit of a maintenance to be done on the tracks, they always completely fall apart,” Archbold told us.
The transit agency said they are aware of the expected crowds. While they have no estimation on expected ridership, there will be additional trains running during midday service.
“It's been described, and I think rightly, as a combination of inauguration plus fireworks plus marathon,” said Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel. “And we are coming at it in terms of planning with that in mind.”
The Brookland station -- the smallest on the Red Line -- could see the biggest crowds. It is just steps away from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception where the pope's Mass will happen.
Metro is warning riders will only be able to head out of the station in the hours prior to the Mass and they will only be able to head into the station in the hours following the Mass.
Click here for more information about getting around Metro during the papal visit.