Suburban Transit to Help on Inauguration Day
MARC, the Maryland commuter buses and VRE plan to run special services on Jan. 20. That's lots of cars and buses that can park outside the District of Columbia for an event that could produce intense congestion.
The exact schedules and ticket arrangements have not been set yet. But all the train tickets will have to be purchased in advance. They're expected to cost $25 for a round trip, said MTA spokeswoman Cheron Victoria Wicker. The bus tickets will likely be priced at $10.
MARC trains will operate from 5 to 9 a.m. and again from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the Penn, Camden and Brunswick lines. Penn Line service will not operate north of Baltimore's Penn Station. Not all the usual stops along the routes will be used that day. Plans say no standees and no assigned seats.
Commuter bus service will operate shuttles to and from Metro stations between 4 and 9 a.m. and from 4 to 9 p.m. Those tickets will be sold on the spot.
MARC train tickets will go on sale in late December. The MTA says it will launch an Inauguration Web page on Friday, containing information and updates. (As soon as that's up, I'll link to it.) People will also be able to sign up for special eAlerts, dedicated to the Inauguration events.
VRE will probably have more specific service plans by the end of the week, said spokesman Mark Roeber. Ticket prices will likely be a bit higher than the regular fare.
Roeber's advice to riders: Have a plan for the whole day. Know what connections you have to make and when you need to make them. That makes a lot of sense. Tens of thousands of people will be moving from one mode of transportation to another getting to downtown Washington and back.
The special plans for MARC and VRE had to be worked out in coordination with Amtrak and the freight lines that own the tracks and operate the services. Wicker refered to it as a "ballet."
Like many other transportation agencies, MTA and VRE are unable to drag out the plans they used last time something like this happened. There isn't any event that matches what's anticipated for Jan. 20.
Roeber noted that VRE had found there was little demand for a previous Inauguration Day service, so it had not planned to offer any this January. Then people began to call up and ask if there would be trains. Some of the callers found they couldn't get hotels in Washington, he said. Other callers were long-distance bus operators looking to get their passengers close, then get them on transit.
Overwhelmed by the level of interest, VRE decided it could and should provide service, Roeber said.
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