Pros to Test Troubled Transit System Saturday

Metro plans extra trains for Nats, Skins, DC United

WASHINGTON -- The latest threat to the Metrorail system isn't an anonymous phone call, suspicious package or busted track circuit. It's our local sports teams.

The scheduling gods have conspired to test an already troubled transit system with three local professional teams set to play Saturday evening. The Washington Nationals host the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park in Southeast along the Green Line at 7:05 p.m. The Washington Redskins host an exhibition against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., along the Blue Line at 7:30 p.m. And DC United plays super-sexy soccer star and tabloid hero David Beckham's Los Angeles Galaxy at 7:30 p.m. at RFK Stadium in Southeast along the Blue and Orange lines.

Luckily, none of those lines is the dreaded Red, which will be closed at Fort Totten because of track circuit replacement due to the fatal June 22 crash. But that station is a transfer point between the Red Line and the Yellow and Green lines. Shuttle bus service can get you from the Red Line's Brookland-CUA and Takoma stations to Fort Totten, where the Green Line will be open.

Riders are reminded, daily, to plan for an extra 30 minutes due to the repairs between Brookland-CUA and Takoma and the indefinite manual operations of trains until Metro can put an end to the deadly track circuit "anomalies."

So, sports fans, get an early start. Other riders, pray for rain.

Metro will have extra trains available to get fans home from the games, according to the transit agency. As regular Yellow/Green Line riders with increasing hatred for the Nationals know, the ends of their games often mean a reduction in service to the rest of us while more trains are sent to the ballpark.

Baseball fans should use both Navy Yard entrances because the station will be packed after the game. Fans flock to the nearest entrance at Half and M streets, but those who really hate crowds can opt to deal with a smaller one by hitting the east entrance two blocks from the stadium at New Jersey Avenue.

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Soccer fans are reminded to use both entrances at the Stadium-Armory station, too. When you see that unruly crowd backing up at the close entrance, scoot around the side and continue further down 19th street to the entrance two blocks away. Those inclined to scoot out into the street, please watch the traffic and your kids. Don't give motorists another reason to hate pedestrians.

Football fans should use the Morgan Boulevard station less than a mile from the stadium. Those who want to drive to the game and park at Metro's lots at Morgan Boulevard or Largo Town Center must have SmarTrip cards and must pay $25. Paid parking begins at 4:30 p.m. and ends two hours after the game.

And as always, load up your SmarTrip and fare cards with enough dough to make the return trip. Don't contribute to the bottleneck at the fare vending machines.

Otherwise, enjoy taking Metro out to the ballgames. And expect delays in both directions.

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