BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Washington, D.C. Metro system will operate on rush-hour service at off-peak rates on Saturday, March 24, to accommodate the March for Our Lives and Cherry Blossom events.

Both the March for Our Lives and the opening ceremony for the Cherry Blossom Festival fall on the same day.

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WMATA released a statement encouraging visitors to purchase SmarTrip cards in advance to avoid long lines at station vending machines. Cards can be purchased at some D.C. area Giant and CVS stores, at Metrorail stations, and online through March 9.

Metro recommends traveling as early as possible due to expected large crowds, long lines, and full trains. Riders can also park in the parking lots for $2 but Metro warns spots may fill up early.

The statement explains that Metrorail will open at 7 a.m. with trains departing end-of-line stations every eight minutes. The company will also offer additional trains on the Red Line between Grosvenor-Strathmore and Silver Spring. At Downtown DC stations, trains will arrive every 2-4 minutes.

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It says rush-hour service levels will continue until about 6 p.m. but that can change depending on ridership levels.

Metrobus and MetroAccess will operate on a regular Saturday schedule but are subject to detours, service changes, and delays due to road closures near downtown.

WMATA set up a separate website or those attending the March for Our Lives event that contains additional tips and information.

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