Nats fans stranded when Metro service ends before game

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Photo - Metro service ended before the Nationals game finished on Aug. 20. (Examiner file photo)
Metro service ended before the Nationals game finished on Aug. 20. (Examiner file photo)
Local,DC,Transportation,MLB,Nationals,Kytja Weir

Scores of Washington Nationals fans were stranded early Tuesday morning after a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves ran later than Metro stayed open, highlighting a long-standing game of chicken among the team, Metro and the District.

Now, many fans are mad at Metro -- those who got stranded and those who had to leave the game early before the Nats beat the Braves, 5-4, in the 13th inning.

"Pretty absurd that in the capital of the so-called free world there's no subway system to take ppl home safely this late," Sam Jewler tweeted via @LuddoftheFuture.

Another team, another subway
The Boston T is in a similar situation as Metro because many Red Sox fans take the subway to Fenway Park. Unlike New York's night-owl system, Boston's subway trains stop by about 1 a.m., though hours varies by line and station.
Even so, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority spokesman Joe Pesaturo said he can't recall a regular season game ever going so late as to push the issue. However, post-season play could run later than the T service because of later starts and TV networks' commercial breaks. The commuter train service, also run by the MBTA, would not be able to stay open later, he said. But, he said, "We would provide subway service."

The Nats warned fans when the system was closing. But Metro said the team could have decided to pay for extra service as it did for a June game against the Phillies.

"Metro has an obligation to offset the expenses associated with extending service for special events," said Metro spokeswoman Caroline Lukas. "Ultimately, whether the Nationals believe an extra hour of service is something they want to provide to their fans is a decision that only they can make. "

The Nats did not return a request for comment.

Metro opens early and runs late for various events, but the transit agency says an outside group needs to pay $29,500 per hour to cover the cost. Metro then refunds the difference made by riders' fares.

But the agency must have an agreement in place before the service is needed, Lukas said. "The only caveat with Nats and Caps is that determinations of when to use the extra hour of service can be made based on how a particular game is playing out," Lukas said.

The city paid the bill in the first years Nationals Park was open to ensure the successful launch of the new stadium in 2008. But last year, the city said it wouldn't pay anymore.

Mayor Vincent Gray was noncommittal Tuesday about the city chipping in this year, noting that D.C. had already made a nearly $700 million investment to build the 41,546-seat stadium. "We'd be happy to talk to the team about whatever additional accommodations need to be made, but we're not prepared to make those commitments at this stage," Gray said.

The Redskins pay when their games go late, as do the Capitals, according to Metro.

Now, when the Nats are in first place, everything went wrong: Monday's game was on a weeknight, when Metro closes at midnight, not 3 a.m. as it does on weekends. The game had a 56-minute rain delay, pushed off from the 7:05 p.m. start. Then the game went into extra innings.

Staff Writer Alan Blinder contributed to this report.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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Kytja Weir

Staff Writer - Transportation
The Washington Examiner