Metro will ramp up rail service on the Fourth of July for passengers commuting to the National Mall for the White House’s second annual “Salute to America” event, transit officials announced Friday.
Trains will operate beyond their usual 9 p.m. closing time, and extra trains will run after 4:00 p.m. to accommodate an anticipated uptick in passengers traveling to the celebration. The announcement comes as city leaders grow concerned about overcrowding at the event, which features fireworks and an address from President Donald Trump, as a potential spike in COVID-19 cases looms.
All Metro stations will open at 8:00 a.m., and most will switch to “exit only” after 9:00 p.m., the release states. The Foggy Bottom station is one of nine other stations near the Mall that will remain open for “entry only” 30 minutes after the event ends to allow visitors to leave the area, according to the release.
Operators will continue running trains into the night “until all customers have been accommodated,” according to the release. Metro’s regular rail hours during the COVID-19 pandemic have run from 5:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. on weekdays and 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. on weekends.
The expanded Fourth of July service comes after Metro reopened more than a dozen train stations last weekend following a monthslong service reduction that officials hoped would curb the spread of the coronavirus on trains and buses. Metro officials said they don’t expect similar crowds as past years, but more people may be using stations on the holiday than previous months of the pandemic.
“Customers are reminded that Metro cannot guarantee that social distancing will be possible at all times,” the release states. “Trains and stations may become crowded, and those planning to attend should consider all of their transportation options prior to traveling.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser urged locals last week to stay home on the Fourth of July to cut down on a potential spread of cases at the event held on the Mall.
All riders must wear “cloth face coverings or masks” when using Metro’s transportation services, according to the release. Metro will offer free parking at its garages and lots and will still enforce off-peak fares, the release states.