WASHINGTON – Massive crowds flooded the D.C. region this week to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis during his trip to the nation’s capital. But in a region known for bad traffic, visitors did not have much trouble getting around town.
According to Metro, the papal visit was a transportation success.
“Something this big can’t be pulled off by one agency alone, and we received an incredible amount of support,” says Metro spokesman Dan Stessel.
The system ran extended rush hour service Wednesday and Thursday to accommodate extra passengers who passed through Metro stations.
The Brookland stop in particular was extremely congested. About 15,000 people went through there after the pope’s mass Wednesday at the nearby Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. That amount of traffic is more than double what the station sees on a normal day.
“Brookland Station had scores and scores of personnel, and the National Guard was assisting,” Stessel says . “It really was a team effort.”
Metro officials also credit local commuters who heeded advice and worked from home during the papal visit.
“That really took pressure off the system,” Stessel says .
Although the papal visit went well, there was one problem of note that occurred Monday: A transformer fire caused issues outside the Stadium-Armory station for riders on the Orange, Blue and Silver Lines. As a result of the fire, a speed restriction will be in place at that location for months, Stessel says.