DC/MD: U.S. Open Fans Face Public Transit Hassles

Golf enthusiasts reported smoother-than-expected travels getting to the busy third day of the U.S. Open in Bethesda, but some called the tournaments transit setup unfriendly to public-transportation users.

The U.S. Golf Association is offering free shuttles to Congressional Country Club from two parking lots in Gaithersburg and one near the Washington Dulles International Airport. But Metro riders have to pay $8 for a day or $35 for the whole tournament to take a shuttle from the Grosvenor-Strathmore station.

I think its kind of crap, said D.C. resident Thomas James. Theyre kind of discouraging public transit by making people pay for shuttles.

Hes been attending the Open all week and said his trips have gone smoothly until he got tied up in delays triggered by Metro track work on Saturday.

The Red Lines been a disaster, said James, who was traveling from Union Station.

Metro is conducting track work on the Red, Orange and Blue lines, and has warned riders to add at least 20 minutest to their travel times because of single-tracking.

And James was one of the lucky ones who knew to buy a shuttle pass in advance. Passes have been sold out for days and officials turned away several groups who showed up at Grosvenor on Saturday afternoon expecting to be able to pay for the shuttle and hop on.

But those mishaps translated into brisk business for cab driver Louis Medjo, who was one of the more than a dozen drivers parked near the shuttle buses at the Metro station.

Medjo said the demand for cab services at the Metro stations closest to Congressional has been high.

You can judge by the line of taxis, he said.

In response to the sold-out Grosvenor shuttle passes, Montgomery County officials announced Friday that the Ride On 36 bus, which serves Congressional from the Bethesda Metro station, would operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The bus, which normally operates only on weekdays, runs every half hour.

Cabbies reported smooth driving around Congressional, saying the designated drop-off points kept cars moving.

Traffic was also generally clear near the Gaithersburg satellite lots on Saturday even as signs on the Capital Beltway warned of major delays. That pleasantly surprised District resident Jim Damato, who said he expected more back-ups on the nearby roads.

We got in really easily, he said.

Baltimore resident Gary Gunther was grateful for the U.S. Open signs that guided drivers from the Beltway to the lots.

He said he missed an exit, but the golf associations notices got him back on track.

The signs got us here he said.

ebabay@washingtonexaminer.com

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