WASHINGTON — D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is doubling back on her comments from a day ago, it would seem.
On Wednesday, Bowser, when discussing how Nationals fans were expected to get to and from the crucial Game 5 on Thursday night, claimed “Nationals fans are creative.”
That, of course, does not answer the question of how Nationals fans will get home, assuming the Metrorail system is in fact closed when the game, scheduled to start just after 8 p.m., ends.
The Metro system, which is in general disrepair and seeking additional funding, has been closing at midnight seven days a week since early June, and it’s scheduled to continue through April of next year.
With Metro declaring it will close at midnight, as scheduled, on Thursday night — something the Nationals’ Game 5 starter, Max Scherzer, called “really weak” — locals have been outspoken in their disappointment in the Metro system.
The vitriol quickly spread to Bowser for her non-answer to the issue. On Thursday, she called out the Metro system as well.
“We have to have a safe and reliable transportation system that stays open for as long as the region stays open. This notion about ending late-night hours indefinitely is a non-starter for us. We are the nation’s capital, we host big events all the time – some of them are sports related, some of them are related to our status as the nation’s capital – and I believe, strongly, that the board and the General Manager, need a process by which special events can be exempted.”
The #KeepMetroOpen hashtag is one she has used several other times regarding the system’s proposal to eliminate late-night service altogether as a cost-cutting method. She turned it around in favor of keeping the system open for “special events,” saying “a one size fits all, blanket prohibition is wrongheaded.”
Though she doesn’t specifically mention the Nationals game, it would appear that’s what she’s referring to, considering the timing.
That hashtag, as well as #NatsRide, has served as a call to action for Nationals fans on Twitter. The latter is being used to help orchestrate carpool systems to get to and from the game as fans are largely giving up on the Metro and taking matters into their own hands, given the difficulty and expense of parking around the stadium.
In an attempt to mitigate some of the fallout, D.C. bus line Circulator is running a special service for Nationals fans Thursday night, extending its hours until 1 a.m. from Navy Yard. The route connects Navy Yard to Union Station and Eastern Market, giving passengers a route to every Metro line in case they miss the final transfer from the Green Line.
It also helps get fans downtown and in other parts of the city away from Navy Yard, which should help spread passengers out, making it easier to find a taxi, and it should help alleviate the surge pricing on rideshare programs.
Whatever happens, the notion that the primary public transit system refuses to slightly extend its hours for perhaps the biggest game in Nationals history does nothing to change the pervasive opinion that D.C. is a less-than-great sports town.