Thousands of travelers filed through Washington area bus terminals, train stations and airports yesterday, swarming around heaps of luggage and lines of taxis and leaving the holidays behind them to face the real world once again.
"People have to be back at work tomorrow morning, and kids have to be at school," said Amtrak general supervisor Ed Cunningham, in the middle of a hectic day at Union Station. Cunningham said the rail service was hooking two or three extra cars to each of the 28 five-car trains arriving and departing yesterday and would add at least three extra trains.
He said he expected the number of passengers would increase from the Sunday average of about 9,600 to almost 15,000.
Life was lively at Washington's bus terminals, too. At the Greyhound Terminal on New York Avenue, long lines of travelers snaked toward the row of buses.
"This is the end of the holidays, so everyone is getting back," said Marvin Prince, assistant district manager for Greyhound at the District terminal. "It's much busier than the normal Sunday--there's just no comparison."
Lanol Jones, 13, and Robert Lee Barker Jr., 11, had traveled from their homes near Cape Charles, Va., and were waiting for a bus to take them to school in the Shenandoah Valley. "I'm looking forward to going back; it's fun," said Jones.
Beside the two boys sat Army Pvt. Randy Finnemeyer, 19, waiting for a bus connection to his barracks at Fort Lee, in Prince George County, Va. He was returning from a two-week leave at his family's home in Telford, Pa., outside Philadelphia.
"I partied most of the time," Finnemeyer said. "Every time I saw one of my friends, I wanted to go and drink. It cost me a couple of bucks, I tell you."
Greyhound, which normally runs just over 100 buses in and out of Washington on Sundays, added between 80 and 90 more yesterday to carry holiday travelers, Cunningham said. If all were full, as Cunningham said he hoped they would be, they would carry more than 7,000 passengers into the city, and another 7,000 out of it.
Police say a crackdown on drunk driving had left roads in the Washington area much safer for travel this season than during past New Year's holidays. There was one fatal accident in Prince George's County on New Year's Eve that county police say was alcohol related. In Northern Virginia, a D.C. police officer died yesterday of injuries he suffered Thursday in a head-on collision with a car whose driver has been charged with driving while intoxicated.
At National Airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ray Frankenberg said there were two busy spells: one about 10 a.m., and a longer one in late afternoon. There were no extra flights, he said, just more passengers. "All the airlines say they are expecting heavy loads the whole day," he said.
At 2:30 p.m., the airport was crowded but relatively sane, as travelers in this city of transients carried presents for relatives they missed during the holidays.
Gina Terry, 17, who moved from Washington to California two years ago, returned for the holidays. But yesterday afternoon she was at National, with her aunt Debbie Crutchfield and other relatives, carrying a bag full of presents for her mother on the West Coast, and saying goodbye again to her relatives here.
"I have to go back to school tomorrow," she said, "and I'm not looking forward to it."
Things were calmer at other airports. "There's been a bit more business than yesterday but nothing unusual," said a Dulles spokesman. A BWI official said, "It's just like Sunday to us."