Parking still available at Metro stations, unlike last time

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel says that three Metrorail stations have reached full parking capacity: East Falls Church, Fort Totten and Van Dorn.

Most of the end-of-the-line stations are three-quarters full, Stessel said.

The Federal Center Metrorail station, which is supposed to be used only by those with inauguration tickets, is so crowded that several trains have bypassed the stop there.  Stessel appealed to riders not to use the station unless they have inauguration tickets; those without tickets should opt for other stations.

Although not as crowded as it was in 2009, the Metro system has been busy.

The Vienna Metro station was bustling at 8 a.m.But regular commuters would find it a breeze to get through.

On the south side of the station, many cars are lined up to enter the garage, but parking still is easy once inside.

The station’s longest lines are outside the fare gates, at special tables where Metro employees are selling the inauguration Metro passes that are good for travel all day.

At the College Park Metro Station and very few people at the ticket machines and plenty  of parking.

“The crowd is definitely smaller but this still is history in the making, ” said Gene Medley, a Metro safety officer on duty at the station. He has been with Metro for 26 years. “The largest crowds will be at Greenbelt, New Carrollton and Branch Avenue stations.”

At Largo Town Center. there was still a sea of empty parking spaces at about 8 a.m. on the upper two levels of the garage at Metro’s Largo Town Center, at the end of the Blue line. Lines at fare card machines were beginning to build, but the mood was festive as inauguration-goers streamed into the station bundled in all manner of Obama-wear and cold weather gear.

Karl Clark, a sales rep from St. Louis, wore a fox pelt fashioned into a hat, its legs (complete with paws and claws) hanging off to the right of his face.

“When it’s cold, you bring out the big guns,” said Clark, 53, who was also wearing an ankle-length black fox fur coat.

Clark said this is his first inauguration, one he wanted to witness in person because it’s not clear when there will be another African American elected as president. But he said he might find reason to travel to DC in four years, should voters elect a woman.

“I’ll be here for Hillary,” Clark said, smiling.

On Inauguration Day 2009, parking at the outer Metro stations was filling up before dawn, so many travelers bound for the 2013 version have been concerned about timing their arrival.

Metro has no system-wide way of routinely alerting travelers about the status of parking at stations, nothing like the system on Reagan National Airport Web site that alerts drivers to the current availability of parking.In 2009, some air travelers feared they would get shut out of parking at Reagan National, because it’s adjacent to a Metro station, but that didn’t happen, and it should not happen Monday.

Plenty of first time Metro riders are trying to navigate the mysteries of the nation’s second busiest subway system Despite repeated warnings from Metro about buying and loading Smartrip cards in advance of this day, the lines at each of the 10 farecard machines are 12 deep in the New Carrolton Metro station. Men in yamulkes wait behind Naval officers in dress uniforms, behind African American ladies in fur coats, behind families with small children.

A woman in a red knit cap was stymied by the Smartrip card reader.
“Tap it on top”, a station manager told her. She held waved her red-mittened hand over the reader. “Tap it, tap it, with the card”, the manager implored, until the woman realized she needed to wave the card over the reader, not just her hand. “What do you think, you have special powers?” he asked, as they both laughed.

 

 

 

Ashley Halsey reports on national and local transportation.
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Robert Thomson · January 20, 2013