Metro officials initially announced they would not stay open late tonight, October 12 for the Washington Nationals’ nail-biting game against the Chicago Cubs and the grand opening events at the Wharf, including a sold-out Foo Fighters show.
Under Metro's new policy, organizations that want to extend service will have to pay $100,000 per hour for the additional time, but as of this morning, neither the Nationals nor businesses associated with the Wharf had shelled out for extended hours. Then suddenly around noon a sponsor stepped up, reportedly Exelon, the parent of energy company Pepco:
This is not the first time the Nationals have refused to pay for extra hours, nor is it the first time where an outside sponsor has decided to foot the bill. Several of our contributors shared their thoughts on the events. Tracey Johnstone says,
"The region avoided MAJOR embarrassment. Seriously, folks. Would this happen in London, Paris, Berlin...? At risk of supporting yet more welfare for the wealthy, I don't think the Nationals should have to pay for this. Real cities provide this service."
Some think the blame ultimately lies with Metro for not getting their act together. Travis Maiers notes,
"Personally, I'm still inclined to lay this more at the feet of WMATA. Not only have they cut back service hours in the past year, but they've also dramatically increased the deposit needed to request extra service (100k/hour today vs. 29.5k/hour previously). From the Nats perspective, why would you work with an organization that has, arguably, become less reliable in recent years (shorter service hours, the SafeTrack "no exceptions" ban last year, higher deposit amount)?
I acknowledge that this whole thing is ultimately really petty, and the Lerners certainly aren't saints when it comes to team spending either - they could easily pay the 100k for an extra hour of service. What is clear is that area residents/baseball fans that are the losers in all of this - hopefully the Nats aren't losers tonight either!"
Ben Ross adds,
"With the game starting at 8:08 and playoff games going 4 hours, this would have been an issue regardless of the service hour cutback. As for "an organization that arguably has become less reliable in recent years" - that's an even better description of the Nats' relief pitching than Metro."
A Navy Yard resident who wishes to remain anonymous shared their experience living in the area:
"The streets are awful when games let out. A couple times I have arrived home by car as the game let out and basically had to sit in gridlock to get into my garage...The reason I say all this is because on top of the fans who may drive, people driving for ride-hailing companies also flock to the neighborhood, so the result is that both people who drive and those who do not end up converging. It seems to be worse on weekends or late games.
I am sure it is because people feel they can't rely on Metro. I wish that the Nationals had some stronger messages about driving or parking but the Ubers and Lyfts still add to the gridlock. At the same time I don't really blame any of the parties, Metro needs funding, MLB wants advertising, IDK. At the end of the day all of this is just #FirstWorldProblems."
Finally, Aimee Custis, deputy director at Coalition for Smarter Growth, had this to say:
"When this whole conversation was lighting up my Twitter feed last night, this tweet summed it all up for me:
For all that fans and the community love to hate on Metro for the system's unwillingness to stay open late without a third party paying for the service, it's as much the region's fault as Metro's. We're in a funding crisis, and our elected officials right now seem hopelessly far away from actually addressing the problems of funding and reform. This might be an unpopular opinion right now, but it's elected officials, not the Metro board. The Metro board can only cook with the ingredients they're given.
I wish anyone who wants to complain about our Metro system had to first put their money where their mouth is, and actually contact their elected officials about Metro. (Oh hey, here's a tool to do exactly that.) With a swell of direct public pressure on politicians, we might actually start to get somewhere in fixing this morass."
For readers who plan on being out into the wee hours tonight, we got you. Here's our guide to getting home from Navy Yard late without Metro service.