Baseball World Series in DC #3: Five lessons for transit
World class cities don’t operate this way https://t.co/QsHmRAYPMh— paul schwartzman (@paulschwartzman) October 26, 2019
This tweet comments on the transportation issues after last night's World Series Game, making the point that such tie ups wouldn't happen in a "world class city."
As part of its Heritage fleet program, the CTA will be operating its refurbished rail cars on the Red Line before the Cubs’ World Series home games this weekend. (Courtesy of Chicago Transit Authority). "CTA to Roll Out Vintage Train Cars for Cubs World Series Games," WTTW/PBS.
I had three transportation-related "lessons" in the two previous posts in this series, but perhaps they were overly buried in all the other words.
-- "Baseball World Series in DC as an opportunity for urban planning reflections: #1 | revisiting blog entries from 2005/2006"
-- "Baseball World Series in DC #2: Ten urban planning lessons from the Washington Nationals stadium"
And looking at this a little more deeply, there are two more lessons besides those.
Place a stadium where it can be serviced by multiple lines. By contrast to the single Green Line subway serving the Washington Nationals Stadium, DC's Capital One Arena is served by three lines, and is a short four block walk to a direct connection to the other three lines.*
In New York City, Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center, Yankees Stadium, and Shea Stadium are all served by both subway and railroad lines. MSG and Barclays Center are located on top of huge transit hubs, with far more connections than even Yankee and Shea Stadiums. More than 50% of attendees to events at MSG and Barclays arrive and depart by transit. (But this leads to the fourth lesson...)
Lesson: Either require stadiums and arenas to be located at sites with multiple transit connections at the outset, or add the connections.
* Note that in "Baseball World Series in DC #2" I did make the point that a lesson with Capital One Arena would be to build an "underground" city walking based connection between Metro Center and Galley Place/Capital One Arena, to encourage people to get the rest of the way to the Arena from Metro Center by walking, rather than transferring to the Red Line to travel the same four blocks.
Nine subway lines provide service to Barclays Center in Brooklyn. (14 subway lines provide service to Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.)
Long Island Railroad (LIRR) connections to Barclays Center. (MSG is served by LIRR and NJ Transit.)
2. To partially correct for this DC could have built a streetcar line between the Washington Nationals Stadium, the Capitol South Metrorail Station -- connecting to the Blue, Orange, and Silver Lines, and Union Station -- connecting to the Red Line, and to regional passenger rail systems for Maryland and Virginia**.
Photo: Adam Vogler, Kansas City Business Journal.
It wouldn't have been perfect, streetcars don't carry that many people, but it would have provided alternative routes to other subway lines with the additional potential bonus of connections to railroad passenger services too.
A complication would have been getting through the Capitol Complex, given post-9/11 security considerations.
And to have enough streetcar vehicles to be able to make a meaningful dent for spikes in demand.
One way to have slack capacity would be to get heritage streetcars, see "An idea for Sunday streetcar service in DC: heritage streetcars."
Separately, I've argued that DC should create a heritage streetcar service for the National Mall, between Union Station and Georgetown, even providing service to Rosslyn/Arlington Cemetery. This system could be extended to provide game day service to the Washington Nationals baseball stadium and the Audi Field soccer stadium.
-- "A National Mall-focused heritage (replica) streetcar service to serve visitors is way bigger idea than a parking garage under the Mall" (2013)
-- "New DC Circulator route serving National Mall reminds us that we are neglecting connections from west to east and fail to adequately connect Georgetown to the National Mall" (2015)
3. The problem is accentuated by the refusal of the Washington Nationals team to pay for Metrorail to provide late service when games go beyond normal operating hours.
This is less of a problem in the post-season, when other actors, seeking publicity, pay for the service. But fans blame the transit system, not the baseball team, for the problem. People boo Metrorail when the Nationals remind fans of the Navy Yard station's closing time.
Digital billboard at Nationals Stadium showing the closing time for the WMATA system/Navy Yard Metrorail station. Twitter photo, 2016, Ryan J. Allen.
Lesson: put such requirements in the zoning and building regulations and in the contract between the city and the team for use of the stadium
4. If you build a stadium next to a single transit line, in a city with multiple transit lines, rebuild the station to add platform capacity to deal with the extranormal demand generated by stadium events.
Problems with platform crowding have been ongoing since the stadium opened. In retrospect, that was an indicator that capacity needed to be added.
**5. When building stadiums and arenas in regions with regional passenger service, location decisions should provide access to passenger railroads too.
NYC is the best example, both good and bad. All of the city's major stadiums have access to subway and railroad service. But the suburban football stadium in New Jersey is poorly served by both types of transit.
DC's MARC and VRE railroads don't provide much in the way of special train service (MARC used to when there wasn't a team in Washington, and people went to Baltimore Orioles games) to sports events.
But then again, past experience hasn't shown much demand for it.
But if stadiums and arenas were located in ways that took passenger train access into consideration and if the region had a true regional passenger railroad system ("A "Transformational Projects Action Plan" for a statewide passenger railroad program in Maryland), maybe that would be different.
The Southern California Metrolink system runs a variety of promotions to support people getting to games by rail. While facilities vary in the level of direct access, it happens that the Angels baseball stadium and arena for the Anaheim Ducks are a short distance from Metrolink.
Metrolink train car wrapped to promote the Angeles Express.
If the MARC Penn Line and the VRE Fredericksburg Line were merged ("A new backbone for the regional transit system: merging the MARC Penn and VRE Fredericksburg Lines") game day special service could be provided more easily.