Expert Tips for Commuting to Pope Francis - NBC4 Washington
2015 Papal Visit

2015 Papal Visit

Pope Francis' First U.S. Visit, Sept. 22-27

Expert Tips for Commuting to Pope Francis

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    Getting a SmarTrip card ahead of traveling to papal visit events not only saves you time and frustration, but it's also a souvenir.

    All Metrorail lines will be crowded and experience delays during Pope Francis’s visit this week, but it’s still your best option for getting to events.

    With all the road closures throughout D.C., driving here will be a nightmare. That’s why the government told employees to keep their pajamas on and work from home if they can.

    Plenty of us at News4 use Metro daily, so we’ve got some advice for out-of-towners and locals who don’t use Metro.

    Buy Your Fares in Advance

    Metro calls this the best piece of advice for big events, and not everyone will heed it. You don’t want to be in one of those long lines at the fare machines as trains you wish you were boarding come and go. If you don’t have a SmarTrip card, now is a good time to get one. Use Metro’s Trip Planner to find out what your fare will be to and from your destinations and make sure you already have enough on your card before you go. If you don’t have a SmarTrip account, create one and you can add to your card online.

    Several Stations Near Parade Around the Ellipse

    The best chance to see the pope is during his parade around the Ellipse Wednesday morning. If you’re going, go early – not only because of expected delays, but also to allow for security screening.

    Federal Triangle is the closest Metro station, so guess which is expected to be most crowded. Consider using Metro Center, Farragut West or McPherson Square on the Orange, Silver and Blue lines and Farragut North on the Red Line.

    Going to the Mass? Try the Fort Totten, Rhode Island Ave. Stations

    Planning to be among the 25,000 in attendance at the Mass of canonization for Junipero Serra Wednesday? While the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Catholic church in the Americas, its closest Metro stop, Brookland-Catholic University, is the smallest station on the Red Line. Expect it to be exit only before the Mass and entrance only after.

    So if you are able, consider using the Rhode Island Avenue station on the Red Line or the Fort Totten station on the Red, Green and Yellow lines instead. Rhode Island Avenue is a little more than a mile from the basilica, while Fort Totten is about two miles away. DC Circulator will offer limited bus service between the stations and the Mass for $1 each way.

    Several Stations Near Jumbotrons for Address to Congress

    The pontiff’s address to Congress at 10 a.m. Thursday will be broadcast with Jumbotrons on the National Mall. The closest Metro stations are Union Station, Judiciary Square, Federal Center SW and Capitol South.

    Even better, the speech will be shown on Jumbotrons at Dupont Circle, too. Consider going there instead.

    What About Taking Metrobus?

    Obviously, Metrobuses are subjected to the same road closures as other traffic. So Metro is planning detours, service changes and some additional service affecting about 70 bus lines from Tuesday afternoon through Thursday afternoon. And those detours will limit Next Bus predictions. So your best bet is to transfer to Metrorail as soon as possible.

    Metro Etiquette

    Stand to the right, please. If you're standing on a moving escalator, please stay to the right to let others pass and lessen crowding on platforms and mezzanines.

    Stand for senior citizens, pregnant women, people with special needs, etc. Let them have your seat. After all, what could be a better occasion to be selfless and neighborly?

    Don't stand at the end of the escalator as soon as you get off it. That thing keeps moving, so take a few steps away from it before stopping to consider your next direction.

    Traveling with a stroller? Please use the elevator to avoid blocking the escalator.

    Lock your bike up outside the station or leave it at home. There won’t be room for bikes and large coolers on platforms, anyway, so Metro isn’t letting them in the system Wednesday and Thursday.

    How About Capital Bikeshare?

    Capital Bikeshare might not be a bad idea, but many of its corrals will be cut off because they are in the vicinity of pope events.

    There will be no morning service at 21st and I streets NW and 13th Street and New York Avenue NW Wednesday and Thursday mornings.

    Wednesday, service will be provided at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW from 7 a.m. to noon and at 10th Street and Monroe Avenue NE from noon to 6 p.m.

    Service will be provided at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW again Thursday from 7 a.m. to noon.