Metro Concerned About Moving Crowd for Concert for Valor

As many as 800,000 people may descend on the National Mall in just a couple of weeks for the quickly planned Concert for Valor, and transportation leaders are scrambling to put together a game plan to move everyone around.

Bruce Springsteen, Carrie Underwood, Metallica, Eminem, Zach Brown Band and Rihanna are scheduled to take part in the Nov. 11 show, which is being hosted by HBO and Starbucks and produced in part by Tom Hanks.

The thought of hundreds of thousands of people trying to leave the National Mall late at night all at once has Metro concerned.

"This one has kind of come up on us late in the game," Metro General Manager Richard Sarles told News4 Thursday. "I think it just requires us to scramble faster -- to plan faster. But our customers need to have a certain level of expectation."

HBO says it is putting up extra cash to make sure there is adequate transportation in place. The show is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. and run until 10 p.m.

"The production is paying for extra Metro trains, buses and commuter rail services under the guidance of Metro DC Transit, using past events, such as the July 4 concert, as a guide," wrote HBO Vice President of Media Relations Tobe Becker.

But the typical crowd on Metro for the Fourth of July is about 500,000 riders throughout the course of the day. If even 200,000 or 300,000 people show up for the Concert for Valor, it could take a very long time to clear the Mall.

"It takes us about two hours to clear the crowd from the Fourth of July," said Sarles. "If this is one-and-a-half to two times that size, the time to clear it would be maybe three or four hours. So that's a lot that we have to take into consideration."

Metro says it hasn't even formalized its plan yet. By this point for an event like an inauguration, a transportation game plan would have been meticulously thought out. The transit agency is also wondering about the plan for the streets around the downtown core.

"There are a lot of things still to be worked out," Sarles said. "What are the traffic plans? What are the plans for bikes? What are the plans for pedestrians? All those things still have to be worked out."

The D.C. Department of Transportation said it is preparing for the event.

"DDOT staff recently attended a Multi-Agency Coordination Meeting and have received a steady stream of information about the event," says DDOT Spokesperson Reggie Sanders. "We are currently preparing a staffing plan and are planning to fully support this event."

The mayor's office did not have an immediate answer when asked about the concert.

"We can move them, but it is going to take time. It is going to take hours under the current situation," said Sarles.

There is good news if the thought of the concert and crowd is too much for you: The event will be televised on HBO that night.

Contact Us