The Washington Nationals clinched the National League East last night while playing at their ballpark just a few steps from Metro. Many Nats fans avail themselves of transit. I wondered where fans go by train after the games, and WMATA provided the data for a few evening games.
The data set includes 10 evening games spread from April to August. Half of the games were during the week, and the other half were on Fridays or Saturdays. I looked at the number of boardings at Navy Yard starting in the same hour as the last pitch and going through system closing.
The 10 busiest destinations are a mix of urban and suburban stations:
The presence of 4 end-of-line stations suggests that many riders are headed home to the farther-out suburbs directly after their games. The high ranking of Dupont Circle, Columbia Heights, and Crystal City could signify the neighborhoods where more urban fans tend to live, or perhaps where they go for entertainment after the game.
Gallery Place’s top ranking is a little surprising. It’s probably up there because many fans are headed for a drink after game’s end. Looking at the individual games, Gallery Place ranks in 1st place in half of the games in the data set. It also ranks 2nd twice, and 3rd, 4th, and 8th once each.
Is there an east-west divide?
The region often talks about an east-west divide between jobs and housing. The eastern side of the region doesn’t have many jobs, resulting in many long commutes toward Montgomery County or Northern Virginia.
It appears there might also be an east-west baseball enthusiasm gap.
Other than Greenbelt (#5) and Branch Avenue (#11), few stations on the east side of the region have much ridership following Nats games. Anacostia (#19), New Carrollton (#26), College Park (#32), and Suitland (#36) are the only other east-side stations that fall in the top half of destinations.
On the other hand, 6 east-side stations are in the bottom 10. And the other 4 in the bottom 10 are stations in downtown DC.
It’s also possible that this effect comes from the data set only looking at riders who enter at Navy Yard, not at Capitol South and Eastern Market. A fan going to New Carrollton will save a lot of time by walking to Capitol South for the Orange Line, but that trip is not counted; it only is if that fan rode from Navy Yard to L’Enfant Plaza and transferred.
Notes on methodology
The data capture everyone who enters the system after a Nats game, not simply Nats fans. It also includes stadium employees and anyone else who happened to board the Metro at Navy Yard after the game ended.
Because Metro often closes parts of lines on weekends, some stations received odd rankings on certain dates. To help adjust for this, the numbers in this post reflect adjusted averages. I excluded any station that was downstream from a closure on the date of a game, or any station that was closed for work. I also excluded the last station before the closure because that station generally saw much higher-than-normal ridership.
For example, on Friday, July 20, the Red Line was closed between Friendship Heights and Grosvenor starting at 10 pm. On that date, Friendship Heights (which ranks 30th overall) came in first. Shady Grove, which is almost always in the top 10, came in 52nd. These numbers clearly are an artifact of temporary service patterns instead of a trend.
The adjusted average has the same top 10 stations as the unadjusted average, though the order is different. The stations in 4th, 5th, and 6th place are affected because of closures.
This analysis also only looked at traffic from Navy Yard, even though we know that many Nats fans walk or take other transit to meet the Orange Line at Capitol South or Eastern Market. At Navy Yard, we can safely assume the vast majority of people entering right after the game are Nats fans. In contrast, that assumption probably won’t hold as strongly for the Orange Line stations.
Here’s the full list, shown ranked by the (adjusted) average number of passengers riding there from Navy Yard over all 10 games:
Update: The original post showed circles with the diameter proportional to the number of trips, rather than the area. The map has now been updated.