Metro will run more trains and stay open longer on the Fourth of July to accommodate crowds expected to gather on the Mall for the annual fireworks display.
Wait times will be shorter and stations near the Mall will stay open past the regular closing time of 9 p.m., Metro said in a statement. It will be the second year the National Park Service will host the “Salute to America” Independence Day event, a rebranded fireworks extravaganza President Trump created. The White House said this year’s event will include music, flyovers to honor veterans, military demonstrations and remarks from the president.
Last year’s event attracted thousands of spectators, with crowds lining both sides of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. Metro officials are expecting smaller crowds this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but additional trains can be employed to handle any surges while also allowing passengers to keep as much distance from one another as possible to reduce the spread of the virus.
Metro plans to monitor crowd sizes all day and will ramp up service based on demand. It is the second time in a matter of weeks that the transit agency has needed to run extra trains for a special event. On June 6, the transit agency doubled the amount of rail cars in service for the largest Black Lives Matter protest to date after the killing of George Floyd.
That day, Metrorail recorded 150 percent more passenger trips — equivalent to about 60,500 riders — than the previous Saturday. The spike was the biggest since mid-March, but it was still more than 80 percent lower than a pre-pandemic Saturday.
Metro said it will start running extra trains on Independence Day at 4 p.m. It also will extend operations from 8 a.m. to beyond 9 p.m. until all passengers waiting for a ride get one.
To catch a ride, Metro said, passengers will have 30 minutes after the fireworks show ends to get to specific Metro stations near the Mall that will remain open.
All other stations will be closed except to exit. The stations that will stay open after the show include L’Enfant Plaza, Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Metro Center, McPherson Square, Farragut West, Foggy Bottom, Rosslyn Orange, Farragut North and Gallery Place.
Officials continue to encourage riders to consider Metro a last option, even on July 4. They are stressing the importance of social distancing onboard, but said they cannot guarantee that there will always be adequate space to keep several feet between passengers.
Masks are mandatory on Metro.
“Trains and stations may become crowded, and those planning to attend should consider all of their transportation options prior to traveling,” Metro said in a statement.
Parking will be free at all Metro-operated parking garages and lots on July 4. Nine Orange and Silver line stations west of Ballston remain closed because of construction work. Shuttle buses, however, will be available at Ballston until the last train arrives, the transit agency said. The Arlington Cemetery station will remain closed indefinitely.
Trump will give his speech celebrating America’s independence and saluting “our amazing heritage” from the White House’s South Lawn, according to the White House. Last year’s event cost $13 million, double what previous Fourth of July celebrations cost, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.
The additional cost came from transporting military vehicles such as Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles to the Mall and Trump’s security, according to the report.