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Metro Changes Bus Parking Plan for Jan. 20

It's hard for commuters and visitors to settle on final plans for travel on Inauguration Day. The rules keep changing:The transit authority announced this afternoon that it has altered the parking plan for its lots and garages, because it hasn't heard from many bus operators who want to park.

The effect will be to open up thousands more spaces for cars at all but one station: The Minnesota Avenue Station parking lot will be closed to provide parking for Metro employees working on Inauguration Day.

Metro had set aside parking for 1,100 charter buses. But in a statement this afternoon, the transit authority said it has gotten requests for parking from only 35 bus operators. (Keep in mind this is strictly the Metro part of the charter bus parking operation.)

Metro officials say they will accommodate the charter companies that made reservations, but will no longer take requests. No passenger vehicle with more than 15 people will be permitted to drop off passengers at any Metro station on Jan. 20.

"Because of limited demand, we can now offer nearly 60,000 spaces for automobiles to park," Sara Wilson, the Metro assistant general manager for corporate strategy and communications, said in the statement. "Motorists will now be able to park at the Greenbelt, Morgan Boulevard and Van Dorn Street Metrorail station parking lots along with the others."

Under the new plan, there still will be limited parking for the charter buses at Vienna, West Falls Church and Shady Grove. Metrorail parking facilities will open at 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 20. Car drivers will pay $4 cash on the way in.

It's unclear to me what the impact of this decision will be. For example, if we don't have so many buses filled with 50 people parking at Vienna and West Falls Church, does that bode well for people getting on at the closer-in stations on the Orange Line?

Why hasn't Metro heard from more bus operators? Is it because they're going instead for permits to park closer in at the sites set aside by the District?

One thing it means is that regular commuters have more options. People heading south on I-95 in Maryland can go to Greenbelt. Drivers from the west will have more room than expected at Shady Grove. Drivers coming in from the west in Virginia will have more room than expected at Vienna and West Falls Church.

By Robert Thomson  |  January 6, 2009; 4:28 PM ET
Categories:  Inauguration  
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