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Metro's Parking Plans for Inauguration Day

Here are Metro's parking rules for Jan. 20, and no matter how bad it sounds, I still think that Metrorail is the best bet for getting to the inaugural or just getting to work on that busy day:

Car's won't be allowed to park at the Greenbelt, Morgan Boulevard, Van Dorn Street and Minnesota Avenue stations. They'll be reserved for charter bus parking, and these will be the only stations where the charters can park.

To prepare for Inauguration Day, all Metrorail parking facilities will close at midnight on Monday and will be cleared of vehicles in preparation for Inauguration Day. Cars parked in those spots after midnight will be ticketed and towed.

All the Metrorail parking areas will open at 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 20. Cars will be charged $4 for all-day parking on the way in. It's cash only. No SmarTrip cards or credit cards. At the end of your day, just go. The gates will be up.

For Charter Buses
Charter buses that want to park at one of those six Metrorail stations must register at If a bus arrives without the necessary registration, it will be turned away from the station.

For Car Drivers
Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. had originally planned for the Jan. 20 parking to be free for drivers. It would have been a real hassle for everyone at the end of the day when some visitors figured out right at the exit gate that they needed a SmarTrip card to get out.

But Catoe changed his mind on the charge last month when it became clear that Metro would need to get a contractor in to manage parking on Inauguration Day. The $4 -- the most that Metro can charge for parking without holding a public hearing -- will help defray the cost of the parking management, Catoe said.

Metrorail Riders
In the weeks leading up to Inauguration Day, Metro is testing the ability of its power supply and its operators to handle more eight-car trains. It started last month on the Green and Yellow lines.

Today and Tuesday, there will be more eight car trains on the Blue and Orange lines during the peak periods. Then during the off peak times, all the trains will be eight cars long. On Wednesday and Thursday, Metro will do the same thing on the Red Line.

On the test days, all the trains -- no matter how long -- will stop at the ends of the platforms. An eight-car train fills the entire platform, so if the electronic message board on the platform is telling you an eight-car train is coming, remember that it's easier to get a seat if you're at waiting at one end or the other. (Many people haven't made the adjustment to the longer trains and tend to cluster in the middle of the platform.)

But if the electronic signs says a six-car train is coming on those days, that means it will stop farther up the platform than usual. So if you tend to wait toward the rear of the platform, you'll want to walk up a bit.

By Robert Thomson  |  January 5, 2009; 6:02 AM ET
Categories:  Inauguration , Metro  
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Next: Seniors Ask About SmarTrip Status


In all of the discussions about Jan. 20th, there's very little mention of Jan. 19th, which may very well be an extremely busy day too. For example, we're just now finding out that Metro parking lots are to be "cleared" at midnight on the 19th -- what about those of us who planned to go to Inaugural events on Monday night and won't get back to our cars before they are ticketed and towed??? How ridiculous is this? We can't even do what we're being TOLD to do (i.e. take Metro to downtown events) because our cars might not be there when we return! Has Metro come up with a solution for this?

Posted by: dcgirl1899 | January 5, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

What could possibly be the reason for the cash only policy at the Metro garages? Cash collection was abandoned at least in part due to the massive theft by attendants at the lots a few years ago. Who will be accounting for all that cash? Will there be receipts and cash registers, or is Metro going back to the "honor system"? From the standpoint of smooth operation, all this does is create more confusion and move much needed Metro employees from the stations to the garages. Any gains from moving in tourists more quickly will be lost as the local riders try to figure out what's going on.

Posted by: kmacva | January 5, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

The reason for "cash only" is that they have you paying on the way in. It makes clearing the garages at the end of the day much faster. There's no practical way to use SmarTrip on the way in since the readers are on the driver's side of the exits (meaning the opposite side from where your window opens when you drive in).

Posted by: 1995hoo | January 5, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

What about vehicles parked in the "Long Term" parking spaces at Greenbelt, Hunnington, and Franconia-Springfield? Will those cars be ticketed and towed also? It seems unfair if I park at metro to get on a plane and get out of town, only to come back home on the 21st to find my car has been towed away!

Posted by: Russtinator | January 5, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

For people worried about the lots being cleared on the 19th; haven't any of you heard of taxis or tried to line up friends to drop you off?

Posted by: ronjaboy | January 5, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I don't believe Metro is staying open late on Monday night. Therefore, if you go into DC and back out on the Metro, you should get back out before they are towing cars. When they say "midnight", they really mean "closing time", which is slightly after midnight at some end of the line stations. WTOP was reporting 12:30 AM was when they would start ticketing and towing.

Cash collection at parking lots will not be handled by Metro employees, they will have private contractors managing parking from what I've heard. And they are collecting cash since the majority of people attending inauguration are not regular riders with SmarTrip cards, but are tourists who do not have them. Regular riders with SmarTrip cards can switch to cash for one day, whereas tourists who expect to pay cash and find out that they can't would be a big problem. Plus, you have a chicken and egg problem too...if you make tourists pay with a SmarTrip card, and sell the SmarTrip cards in the station, where do you park to go in to buy a SmarTrip card?

As for the long term parking spots, if they warn you that your car will be ticketed and towed on Jan 20 at 12:30 AM two weeks prior, which they obviously have by virtue of the press release (and will hopefully have signs posted in the stations too), then Metro has done their duty to warn you. I believe there is a legal two-week limit on parking in those long term spots (otherwise, it is not considered parking, it is considered storage of a vehicle), so if you are parked there right now and intending to leave it there past the 20th, you should be ticketed and towed anyway. Those spots are provided as a special convenience, and you can't always be guaranteed to be able to use them, most often because they are full if you don't get to them at the right time, and in this case because of an inauguration. Besides, I wouldn't want to park there anyway, because parking in one of those long term spots (farthest from the station, and its security), is like telling the criminals "hey, I'm out of town and won't be coming back to my vehicle anytime soon!"

Posted by: thetan | January 5, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Ah. That explains the 8-car trains this morning. I wonder if I'm in the minority--I really dislike 8-car trains. Why? For one, the jerky stops make me sick. Is there any way for the Metro drivers to stop more smoothly, maybe with practice? Also, probably due to the longer time it takes to stop, my trip from Eastern Market to Farragut West takes noticeably longer on an 8-car train than a 6-car train. I'm always running late, so the extra time really hurts!

Posted by: DCLiz | January 5, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Will I be able to ride the blue line metro from Springfield, Va to the Mall area on Jan. 20 for the inauguration??

Posted by: shermanlcook | January 8, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

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