Inauguration Day rider guides available at Metro stations

January 14, 2013
Inauguration map
Map provided by Secret Service shows area closed to traffic in red. Dotted line marks area with traffic restrictions.

Metro has a new brochure available at rail stations with a lot of helpful advice for travel next Monday, Inauguration Day, when Metrorail is likely to be the best bet for reaching the swearing-in on the Mall and the parade on Pennsylvania Avenue.

It has a red, white and blue cover and is called the Official Metro Rider Guide. But you can also see a pdf of the guide by clicking on this link.

The guide addresses many of the questions I’ve been getting from people who plan to attend inauguration events, but there’s still much we don’t know. For example, what’s parking going to be like at the outer stations, which became crowded so early for the 2009 inauguration?

The guide says: “Parking lots and garages at Metro stations will fill very quickly on Inauguration Day. If you plan to park at a station, have a backup plan if parking
is full. Consider connecting bus service, carpools, taxi, biking or even walking if possible.”

Okay, that’s very sensible. But what time would an inauguration-bound traveler need to be at Vienna or Shady Grove or Greenbelt next Monday morning to be pretty sure of getting a space?

In a way, last time was easier. Metro set a ridership record on Jan. 20, 2009, as we assumed it would. By 4:30 a.m., we were reporting that the 3,399 spaces in the enormous Metro lot at Greenbelt were full. By 6:37 a.m., we were saying that New Carrollton, Franconia-Springfield, Largo and Van Dorn Street had filled up. By 8:37 a.m., Vienna, West Falls Church and Shady Grove stations had joined an ever-growing list of stations with full parking.

Ridership is not likely to exceed that record this time, but how big will it be?

“The fact is, no one knows for sure how many people are going to show up, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.

So what are you supposed to do? Stessel said it’s still a good idea to arrive early, even with lower crowd estimates. Also, have a backup plan if your first choice on parking turns out to be full.
 
That advice was useful to me last time. I was heading for Greenbelt when I heard it had filled up, so I switched to Silver Spring and parked on the second level of a garage by the downtown station. Those garages around the Silver Spring station are operated by Montgomery County, rather than Metro, and county parking facilities will be free on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. (Metro is charging regular rates.)
 
On Inauguration Day, you will find frequent updates on all our transportation services here on our site and our social media outlets, but Stessel pointed out that Metro also will be using its MetroAlerts service to provide text messages, plus a special Twitter feed, @metroinaug, to provide updates on parking, among other things.
 
Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.
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Robert Thomson | January 14, 2013