Why? One hashtag: #PopeInDC.
President Obama and the First Lady welcomed Pope Francis into Washington, D.C. today for his two-day stay in the nation’s capital.
For anyone interested in seeing the Pontiff, there will be plenty of opportunities to do so — or at least to try, since crowd control is expected to be an exceptionally difficult task considering that visitors from all over the country have traveled into D.C. to see Francis.
For the majority of D.C. residents and workers, though, it’s going to be just another work week, except with a whole lot of transportation disruptions.
As WTOP News reported, Washington officials are no strangers to major events that draw thousands of people and where one tiny breach in security could become an international scandal. But other major events — such as the Presidential Inauguration or pretty much any major White House dinner — have traditionally been held on the weekends. Pope Francis’s visit, on the other hand, is right in the middle of the week.
The issue of transportation for those living and working in D.C. will likely be more problematic than in the Pope’s other two U.S. stops, New York City and Philadelphia. Approximately 65% of all employers say that they allow some or all of their employees to work remotely, but Washington is a city where appearances matter and where a casual encounter on your morning metro ride could be the doorway to a new career path.
With that in mind, this week the freelancers of D.C. get to revel in their stress-free digital commutes while the regular workers battle it out on the streets. The Washington Post has advised that it’s best to travel via public transportation this week and to leave plenty of extra time for the commute.
The D.C. Metro has even issued limited-edition PopeTrip card sleeves, to cover up your boring ol’ SmartTrip card and make your hours-long commute a little holier.
The Metro lines are expected to be operating at rush hour-levels all day long from Tuesday, Sept. 23 to Thursday, Sept. 25, and lines will be in operation from 5 a.m. to midnight — assuming that the trains actually manage to run without breaking down, which is never guaranteed in D.C.
The majority of the NW and NE quadrants of the city are expected to have very limited parking and multiple road closures, and many residents are even expecting to forego automated travel altogether and simply walk to work instead.
As AAA Mid-Atlantic said, this week is already starting to look “apope-calyptic.”