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Nationals Metro dispute: Jack Evans wants resolution to baseball transit issue

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With the Washington Nationals magic number to clinch the NL East pennant sitting at 17, the team, the city and WMATA are still  in limbo when it comes to keeping the rail system open later to accommodate games that finish up in the wee hours.

The Navy Yard-Ballpark station serves thousands of fans before and after Nationals games. Photo: Flickr/thisisbossi

One D.C. Councilmember, though, says that while the dispute between D.C., the Nationals and Metro is more complex than it seems, something has to be done to rectify the issue.

Appearing on NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt on Monday, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans said that he's working to come up with a solution for everyone. However, he says that Major League Baseball is playing more of a role in the row than one would expect.

"Major League Baseball has made it clear that in no city in the country does a team have to pick up the tab for games that go beyond (the closing of a system)," Evans said.

The issue of Metro closing before the completion of a Nationals game came to a head on Aug. 20, when an extra-innings victory over the Atlanta Braves finished up after midnight, when the rail system shuts down on weekdays.

That shutdown left many fans stranded on Half Street in Southeast D.C. with few options to get home. Several other teams in the area, including the Capitals, Redskins and Wizards, have an agreement in place to keep Metro running later if need be, but the Nationals have no such pact.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel says that it costs upwards of $30,000 per hour to keep the system's 86 stations open past closing time. Shortly after that Braves game, the Nationals said that the city should foot the bill.

The issue goes beyond just the Nationals, though, Evans says, adding that Metro "has to stay open past midnight" on weekdays.

"Even if we resolve the playoff issue, when you have games that run late or people go out, we want them to stay at the bars and restaurants," Evans said. "Not running to Metro and going home at midnight."

Evans says that the $29,000 deposit required to keep Metro trains running could even be potentially be offset by riders paying their fares.

"We subsidize Metro to the tune of $300 to $400 million a year," he said. "Why can't the system stay open for an extra hour or two?"

However, circling back to the influence of the league, Evans says that Major League Baseball doesn't want Washington to set a precedent for other cities that have major transit systems like Metro. According to Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post, Major League Baseball doesn't have a policy on this topic per se, according to MLB spokesman Pat Courtenay.

He cited cities with expansive rail systems, like San Francisco's BART system and the Boston "T," as examples of other cities who could be impacted by a decision made by the city, team and WMATA.

Both the T and BART close at about midnight on weekdays, and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority explicitly states on its website that fans are advised at late games that the last train leaves Kenmore Station, which is located near Fenway Park, leaves at 12:10 a.m.

New York City Subway stations are located close to both Yankee Stadium and Citi Field as well, but that system runs around the clock.

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