As Mall empties, some Metro stations fill up

After the Federal Center Metro station became overcrowded before the inauguration, many people are apparently trying to avoid that station as they head home, causing an overflow at L’Enfant Plaza Metro station.

As crowds streamed off the Mall following Obama’s speech, the station quickly began filling up. Lines at fare card machines were two dozen deep and long lines of people waited to enter the fare gates. Meanwhile, at one entrance,  from the L’Enfant food court, both down escalators were out of order, backing up foot traffic.

Police have stopped people from entering the station at 7th Street until the crowding abates. People are reacting well, once they know what’s going on. Many are asking directions to another station entrance.
A Metro employee told passengers “tap your card, insert your card, keep it going,” as riders shuffled through open fare gates.

While some riders complained of escalators being out of service Metro had in fact put in place a system to leave one running and one as a walker to keep them from becoming overloaded and broken. It is a common practice for crowds.

“I thought we were beating the crowds by leaving early but I guess not,” said Melissa Goddard of Newark, NJ, as she stood in a crowd trying to get through Lenfant Plaza station and back to her car parked at Largo Town Center.

At the Federal Center SW Metro station:  The station is seeing crowds of post-speech revelers wearing Obama buttons and baseball caps, but the platform is relatively empty, thanks to frequent trains.

Ashley Halsey reports on national and local transportation.
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Ashley Halsey III | January 21, 2013