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Metro Expands Hours for Inauguration, Expects Record Rail and Bus Ridership

SmarTrip front.jpg
Metro's commemorative SmarTrip card for Jan. 20.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority announced today that it will run rush hour service for 15 consecutive hours from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Inauguration Day Jan. 20, but the authority will charge riders off-peak holiday fares, the Post's Lena Sun reports. Metro will be open from 4 a.m. Jan. 20 until 2 a.m. Jan. 21, to handle commuters after the inaugural balls, General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. announced at a board meeting. (Here is the full announcement from Metro.)

Metro is expecting to move 1.6 million people on rail and bus on Inauguration Day, which would double the previous high of 854,638 (rail only) on July 11. The authority will issue 35,000 SmarTrip commemorative cards with a picture of Barack Obama, which can be purchased in early January for $10 apiece on a special Web site that will be set up Friday and can be found by going to www.wmata.com. Commuters can then add value to the cards, which will come with no value, at the stations, and move quickly through the fare gates.

obama farecard mockup.jpg
In addition to the commemorative Smart cards, riders will also be able to buy commemorative One-Day rail passes ($7.80 each) that will allow unlimited daily rides (pictured at right). The paper farecards are expected to be in vending machines by Christmas, officials said, and the agency will stock between 3 to 5 million of these special passes.

Catoe said people trying to get into train stations after the parade could face delays of "up to a couple hours" at the end of the day. Metro is encouraging people to spread out their trips after the events are over by visiting downtown museums or grabbing something to eat.

Metro's Archives Station and the Mall entrance of the Smithsonian Station will be closed on Jan. 20. Public restrooms also will be closed, but portable units will be set up outside. Parking at Metro stations will be free for automobiles on Jan. 20, but buses must pay. The authority expects all 60,000 parking spaces to be used that day.

Metro will offer regular weekend service on Jan. 17 and 18, Catoe said, and holiday service on Jan. 19, which is Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

Catoe said he will ask transit authorities in Maryland and Virginia to add bus-only lanes on highways into the District on Jan. 20 to move crowds more quickly.

Notes: Newseum, which fronts the inaugural parade route along Pennsylvania Ave. NW, will also expand its hours on Jan. 20, from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., with inauguration-themed exhibits.

By David A Nakamura  |  November 20, 2008; 12:41 PM ET  | Category:  Transportation
Previous: Will Montgomery County Close Schools? The Plot Thickens... | Next: Estimated 1,300 Groups Apply for Inaugural Parade

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