Some were well-prepared, others ready to ask for help when they got confused. Some were just plain patient when they were stymied. Here are some tips to help it run well again.
Prepare for the cold
Dress in layers. You might start out in the warm environment of a car or bus; you might get rosy-cheeked from a brisk walk.
Then you’re going to stand around for hours waiting for the noon swearing-in ceremony or the inaugural parade that follows. Travelers may also be delayed at bus stops and at the entrances to Metro stations.
Also, the weather that greets you in the morning might not be the weather that accompanies you home. Prepare for what’s likely to be a very long day.
Although planners expect a smaller crowd than in 2009, travelers still will be better off leaving their cars behind. Many streets in the District’s core will be closed or have restricted access. A security zone will be maintained by people with a limited sense of humor and very little sympathy for your personal tale of woe.
Metrorail and your own feet are likely to be the best modes of travel. Bus service worked pretty well, but the routes could be confusing, some services had more demand than capacity and buses sometimes got stuck in congestion.
Biking is increasingly popular in the Washington region, and there are more bike lanes than last time. But as cyclists close in on the Mall, they will find themselves moving no faster than the nearby pedestrians. Also, bikes won’t be allowed on Metrorail on Inauguration Day.
The day’s best transportation vehicle? Sensible shoes.
Those of us who took transit last time didn’t need to be told afterward that Metro set a ridership record. Although I highly recommend this mode of travel, you should be prepared for the effects of crowding at popular downtown stations. Platforms and escalators may be jammed. Police may periodically stop people from entering stations until crowds diminish. Some station access points will be used as entrances only and others as exits only.
Escalators may be turned off and used as stairs. Riders are likely to press against doors or try to hold them open, causing them to break and forcing the operator to take the train out of service.
Some stations may be shut without warning for security and safety reasons. Metro says the Smithsonian, Archives and Mount Vernon Square stations will be closed. I’d also avoid the Federal Triangle station, which was shut for many hours during the last inauguration for safety reasons.