Metro preparing for Inauguration Day

October 9, 2012

Mitt Romney or Barack Obama?

The nation hasn’t yet decided, but that isn’t stopping Metro officials from starting their Inauguration Day preparations.

Members of Metro’s Finance and Administration Committee are expected to be briefed Thursday on the transit authority’s plans for the presidential inauguration, slated for January 21, 2013.

Officials aren’t expecting the record crowd that flocked to Washington in 2009 for Obama’s swearing-in, when they had 1.5 million riders – 1.1 million of whom used Metro’s rail service. Metro planners are estimating a crowd of 500,000 to 800,000 for the 2013 festivities.

Complicating matters in 2013: Inauguration Day falls on the federal Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, so ordinarily Metro would operate on a holiday schedule. But Metro officials know that won’t work, so they’re proposing extended hours. Service would start an hour earlier, at 4 a.m., and run until 2 a.m. — two hours beyond the normal closing. Metro officials also want to provide peak service all day.

But peak service also means that they need to get the board’s permission to charge peak rail fares and the standard $5 fee at Metro parking garages (the fee would normally be waived because of the holiday). Officials estimate that they could collect $260,000 through parking fees alone.

The planned presentation will also include mock-ups of the special inauguration edition Farecards — both paper and SmarTrip — that Metro will be offering for the occasion. The commemorative paper Farecards — for rail travel only — will be available with the purchase of a one-day pass for $14. Commemorative one-day rail pass SmarTrip cards can be purchased for $15 and can be used for rail and as a Flash Pass for unlimited bus travel that day. (Metro is offering the special-edition SmarTrip cards for $1 off the regular after-rebate cost of $2).

Early mock-ups of the cards show two versions, depending on who will win the election. Obama’s has the date of the inauguration and the tagline “America Makes History Again.” The Romney edition features a photo of the former Massachusetts governor smiling and the tagline “A New Future for America.”

Metro sold 168,000 commemorative SmarTrip cards in 2009 but still has 30,000 in its inventory. Officials say that this time around, they’ll order about 100,000 cards — half the number of commemorative cards ordered for 2009.

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.
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