Nationals Playoff Games and Metrorail Ridership

October 3rd, 2014

When the Nationals reached the playoffs in 2012, about 12,000 fans per game took Metrorail – from all over the region, and even late at night!

Now that the Nationals have clinched a spot in the playoffs, Nationals Park will once again host October baseball beginning this afternoon. How many fans might take Metrorail to and from the game?

To answer that, let’s look back to 2012, the last time the Nats reached the playoffs. Games 3, 4, and 5 of the National League Division Series (NLDS) were played here at Nationals Park – Wednesday at 1:07 pm, Thursday at 4:07 pm, and Friday at 8:37 pm. Attendance at all three games was around 45,000 people. Here’s what ridership (Metrorail system entries) looked like at Navy Yard-Ballpark station on those days:

Nationals Ridership_NavyYard_NLDS2012_byHalfHour_v2

The sheer volume of passengers through Navy Yard station were impressive.  Sustaining over 4,000 entries per half-hour for nearly two hours is roughly equivalent to 4-lane highway, and exceeds what even the busiest stations achieve on a typical day.  For comparison, normal peak-of-peak volumes through Union Station, Metro Center, and Farragut West rarely exceed 3,000 entries per half hour.

Game 3 was a tough one as the Cardinals came out to an early lead, so it’s possible some fans left early.  Games 4 and 5 were both decided in the ninth inning. So we can safely estimate game-related ridership by looking at entries at Navy Yard for the two hours following the last pitch, and the chart below shows the results. (I also adjusted the Game 3 estimate to exclude normal commuters who were using the station at rush hour).

Estimated Ridership per NLDS game 2012_v2

Each playoff game in 2012 attracted about 12,000 riders to Metrorail – even Game 5, which ended after midnight!

Next, where did these riders go?  The diagram below shows the destinations of all riders who entered Navy Yard station after Game 5 ended at 12:26 am (actually early Saturday):

RailMap-Destinations of Post-Nats NLDS late game 2012_v2

Nationals fans took Metrorail back to destinations all over the region – from park & ride stations like Shady Grove and Vienna, to neighborhood stations like Columbia Heights and Bethesda. The number one destination for a Nats fan that night was Vienna. Many exited at Gallery Place – perhaps to drown their sorrows at 7th Street NW bars after a crushing defeat and think hopefully about next year!

What about you – did you take Metrorail to the 2012 playoff games? Will you take Metro to the postseason this year?

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