Metro prepares for big crowd at November concert

Dana Hedgpeth

- Washington Post

A November concert on the Mall could crowd Metrorail and its stations with hundreds of thousands of people, and transportation officials are warning riders to expect delays.

Called the Concert for Valor, the free event on Nov. 11 — Veterans Day — is being hosted by Starbucks and HBO. Superstars like Bruce Springsteen, Eminem and Rihanna are expected to perform for the event on the National Mall.

About 250,000 people are expected to attend the event, although the National Park Service issued organizers a permit allowing for as many  800,000 attendees.

The event is set to begin at 7 p.m. and will be held on the grounds between the Capitol and the Washington Monument.

Metro said it has been talking to event organizers for several weeks and is expecting that thousands of concertgoers will use the rail system. The transit agency said it is working out details of how often to run trains and whether to add more trains on the day of the event. They expect to release details of their plans for extra service in the coming weeks.

For Metro, the event could rank as a busy ridership day.

Metro handles about 400,000 riders to and from the Mall on the 4th of July. To get that many people off the Mall and onto trains and stations, Metro officials said, takes about two hours.

So the agency warns concertgoers to be patient.

“Anyone going to the Mall should be aware we’re talking about a large crowd and potentially long waits for service home,” said Metro spokesman Dan Stessel. The fact is, no one knows how many will actually come. The more people who do, the longer it will take to clear the Mall after the event.”

The event organizers would pay for any additional service Metro provides, Stessel said.

The Concert for Valor is part of an effort by Starbucks to promote its work with veterans. Starbucks Chairman, President and CEO Howard Schultz’s family foundation committed $30 million to “support veterans’ transition to civilian life,” according to a news release promoting the event. Schultz is also the co-author of a book called “For Love of Country,” which is being co-written with Rajiv Chandrasekaran of The Washington Post. It will be published in early November.