WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Metro is warning riders to expect crowding and delays on trains and buses during Pope Francis' visit to D.C. later this month.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to visit the District between September 22 and September 24 for the pope's visit, which Metro says could produce near Inauguration ridership levels at certain stations.
To accommodate the expected crowds, Metro plans to add additional train service during non-peak hours Wednesday and Thursday during the Papal visit. However, Metro says they do not have the ability to add significant capacity to its services during the normal rush hours.
Because of expected crowding at stations near where papal events are taking place, riders may need to wait longer periods of time--possibly hours--before being able to re-enter the system.
Bus customers can also expect extensive detours and service adjustments because of papal events and associated road closures.
One station expected to see large crowds is the Brookland Station, especially during the Mass at the Basilica on September 23. Metro says that station is the smallest Red Line station with the ability to accommodate less than 5,000 boardings per hour under normal circumstances. In order to accommodate the more than 25,000 people ticketed for the Mass, Metro and the D.C. Department of Transportation are developing plans for bus shuttle service from the adjacent Fort Totten and Rhode Island Avenue Stations. Details regarding those busses will be released at a later date.
In addition, the Brookland Station may be designated as an exit only station for a period of time prior to the mass, and an entry only station after the mass. Metro says this will double the number of riders the station can accommodate per hour.
Metro is encouraging anyone planning to use Metro to purchase rider fare in advance, whether it's a SmarTrip card or a paper farecard. Metro is expecting long lines for fare machines at stations during the pope's visit. SmarTrip cards can be purchased online before September 14 here.
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