One of the better-documented effects of Metro's new policy to not extend its service hours for any event is that when the pro hockey, basketball, and baseball games go longer than expected, the final score probably won't happen before the last train leaves. That's especially unfortunate with the NHL and NBA playoffs going on, when leaving early really isn't an option. But fear not! I've written a handy guide for taking transit to the game without needing to worry about how you'll make it home.
During the Caps' recent double overtime Game 2 loss, a big Metro announcement showed up on the Verizon Center jumbotron:
The double OT crowd is about to thin. pic.twitter.com/Hl0drFmpox— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 16, 2017
Even the team's radio announcer offered a creative solution, to have everyone pile into his own vehicle after the game.
This post will focus on Capitals and Nationals games (the Wizards and Mystics rarely go past midnight because of shorter overtimes, but the same directions would apply). If you do not consider yourself transit-savvy, follow our four “pre-game” tips at the bottom of this post.
If you're leaving the Verizon Center after the last trains depart (as early as 11:55 pm)…
…and going to Bethesda: The L2 bus leaves FROM Connecticut Ave and Eye Street (at the southeast corner of Farragut Square, about a 20 minute walk from the Verizon Center) at 12:00 and 12:30 am on Sunday-Thursday, and 1:00, 1:30, and 2:00 am on Friday and Saturday nights. (There is a 1:00 am bus on Monday through Thursday that ends at Chevy Chase Circle.) This route connects Farragut North to Bethesda, including every Red Line station except Tenleytown.
…and going to Silver Spring: The 70 bus picks up on 7th, at E, F, and H Streets, and runs past 3:00 am on Monday through Saturday, and past 2:00 am on Sunday nights. This route connects with Mount Vernon Square, Shaw, and Petworth, and runs relatively close to Takoma, U Street and Columbia Heights.
…and going to Anacostia: The P6 line picks up on both sides of H Street at 7th (westbound takes you to Anacostia, eastbound takes you to Rhode Island Avenue), and has service past 2:00 am every night of the week. Note that the last bus originates at 10th & Pennsylvania, in front of the FBI Headquarters. This route takes you past Federal Center SW, Waterfront, and Navy Yard on its way to Anacostia. The P6 also winds northbound as far as the Rhode Island Avenue station, which has its own parking lot.
…and you're going to the east: The X2 line picks up at the same place as the P6, on H Street at 7th, but does not connect to any Metro stations with significant parking, it does run to the Minnesota Avenue station (which has an adjacent small garage), via H Street and Benning Road (but does NOT pass the Benning Road Metro), until 3:00 am Monday through Saturday, and until 2:00 am on Sunday night.
…and you're going to Virginia: Unfortunately, there are very few late night buses that cross the river. The best option is the 38B, which used to be known as “The Orange Line With A View”, which leaves FROM Connecticut Ave and Eye St (at the southeast corner of Farragut Square, about a 20 minute walk from the Verizon Center) until 1:15 am Monday through Thursday, 2:15 Friday and Saturday, and 11:50 pm on Sunday.
If you're going to South Arlington or Annandale, take a 15 minute walk to Franklin Square at 13th and Eye Streets, where the 16E leaves as late as 12:30 on Sunday through Thursday, and 1:08, 2:08, and 3:08 am on Fridayand Saturday only along Columbia Pike. If you ride to the Pentagon, you can also pick up the 7A leaves for the area of Landmark Mall at 1:30 and 2:30 am on Friday and Saturday only.
…and you're going to another point in the District: There are several other bus routes, too many to list here, which pass within a few blocks of the Verizon Center, and have at least occasional late night service. Consider using the Transit App or Metro Trip Planner to find a bus to a point near your final destination, and using either Capital Bikeshare (assuming you obeyed last call, and the game went this long, we hope that you're sober enough to ride at this point), which is $2 per ride, walking, or using a rideshare, as taxis are less prevalent outside the downtown core at late hours.
If you're leaving Nationals Park after the last trains depart (as early as 11:39pm)…
…and you're going to Anacostia: The P6 line runs past 2:00 am every night of the week, picking up all along M Street past the Navy Yard Metro Station (note that it may be off schedule with postgame traffic), or you can simply walk across the Douglass Bridge, to the Metro station (1.4 miles) or the parking garage (1.2 miles). The path across the bridge is narrow and not well lit, but there should be plenty of other fans walking immediately after a game.
…and you're going to Virginia: The most relaxing option is the Baseball Boat, which leaves for Old Town Alexandria 20 minutes after the last pitch, no matter the time. Note that one-way tickets from the game are not guaranteed to be available, so that fans with a round-trip ticket can all make it home. Other options include taking a taxi or rideshare to either the Pentagon or Rosslyn and picking up the 16E or 38B, using the directions above, but they aren't ideal.
…and you're going to Montgomery County, or points in the District south of Columbia Heights: The 90/92 bus lines pick up at 8th and L Streets SE, near the actual Navy Yard entrance (NOT the Metro Station). The 90 bus runs past Eastern Market, NoMa, U Street, and ends at the Duke Ellington Bridge, a short walk from Woodley Park. The last 90 bus each night of the week is at 1:40 am, and there is a 92 bus 20 minutes later that terminates at 14th and U Streets.
Western Montgomery County residents can connect to the L2 by walking across the Duke Ellington Bridge to Connecticut Avenue, by 1:14 am on Sunday through Thursday, and 2:14 am on Friday and Saturday nights.
Eastern Montgomery County residents get to Silver Spring via the 90/92 to connect to the 70 at Florida and Georgia Avenues, or the S2 bus at 16th and U. Both buses run until 3:15 am from U Street, except Sundays, when they stop at 1:58 am.
You can also take the P6 towards Rhode Island Avenue and get off at 7th & Constitution to pick up the 70 bus (walk north to Archives), get off at Metro Center and walk to 16th Street for the S2 bus, or get off at Metro Center and walk to Farragut Square for the L2 bus. Note that the P6 is virtually guaranteed to get caught in post-game traffic on M Street, so be sure to allow extra time if you're connecting to one of these buses.
If all of the adrenaline from that big Nats win has you up for a walk on a warm summer night, take a stroll up New Jersey Avenue (don't follow South Capitol, which has a narrow sidewalk, and a tunnel under I-395), towards the Capitol, then walk over to the Archives Metro Station on 7th and pick up the 70 bus to head home. Your friendly author has done this walk after a 17 inning game, and had lots of company on the walk all the way to Independence Avenue. It's about a two mile walk.
…and you're going to points in DC's northeast quadrant or east into Prince George's County: Take the 90/92, and switch to the X2 at H Street. It will take you as far as Minnesota Avenue, and while that may not be your final destination, the taxi or rideshare fares will be significantly less, and you won't be in line with thousands of new friends waiting for a ride.
How to pre-game:
First Base: Prepare ahead of time
With the NHL scheduling playoff games at 7:30 and 8 pm in the Capitals second round series, and a record number of playoff games going to overtime in the first round, fans must consider it more probable than not that they'll need a plan B. Most hockey, and many baseball fans drive to a Metro station to attend the game. Driving to certain stations that have a reasonable amount of parking, but also late bus service, can save a lot of trouble. For fans in Virginia, this means Ballston and Pentagon City. For fans in Maryland, it means Silver Spring, Bethesda, and to a lesser extent, Fort Totten and Anacostia.
Second Base: Especially for Virginia fans, wear walking shoes
Many of the buses that leave from downtown do not go to the Verizon Center, but instead start at Farragut Square, about a mile west of the arena. Similarly, many routes going to Montgomery and Arlington Counties will require a 1-2 mile walk from Nationals Park.
Third Base: Have some relevant apps on your phone
It's a good idea to have Transit, Spotcycle, and, if necessary, a ridesharing app such as Lyft, Uber, or Curbed, on your phone before the game. That way you don't have to try to download them on a busy WiFi network during a break in play. Sometimes the strategy after an unexpected late game is to get as close to home as you can without paying taxi fares or surge pricing.
Home Plate: Have enough money on your SmarTrip card!
The good news is that the bus fare is never more than the rail fare to get home, it's $1.75 (increasing to $2.00 on July 1, 2017), with as many transfers as you need for up to two hours as long as you are using the same SmarTrip card. The bad news is that it's a royal pain to load cash (forget credit cards) onto your card on a bus, particularly with many riders trying to get on. If you're in the good practice of having enough to get home from the game before you leave, you're all set.
Rebuilding for next season
Obviously all of this would be easier if Metro showed more flexibility around major events, especially predictable ones, like a playoff game. Until that happens, we here at Greater Greater Washington will continue to advocate for a coherent late night bus network, and easy-to-read late night service maps, but until then, this guide highlights the most frequent late night routes that fans of either team could use to shorten the journey home.
Correction: The first version of this post had an inaccurate time for when Metro's last trains leave the Verizon Center. We also revised it to note that late night service on the 16E bus originates at Franklin Square, rather than the Pentagon (where it originates during the day), and to mention the use of the P6 as a connection from Nationals Park to connect to other service from downtown.