Four years ago, the Inauguration Day ceremonies were marred by one major misadventure: a Metro subway crush.
Balky Farecard machines malfunctioned. Long lines formed. Stations and trains were jammed. Passengers faced hour-long delays. A power outage briefly halted rail service. At some stations, officials abandoned the Farecard system and let passengers use the system free.
Metro officials have promised to avoid a repetition of these mishaps tomorrow. Rail service will be increased, officials said, and the Farecard system has been improved. The subway system has expanded in the past four years, they added, and it is capable of accommodating large crowds.
"We feel confident that we can handle it," said Metro spokesman Beverly R. Silverberg. "We expect the automatic Farecard equipment to function properly."
The rail system is expected to be a key link in the Washington area's transportation network on Inauguration Day, partly because many downtown streets will be closed to traffic and parking will be restricted near the parade route. Metrobuses will run on a beefed-up holiday schedule.
The rail system will stay open later than usual, from 6:30 a.m. tomorrow to 1:30 a.m. Tuesday. Six-car trains will be used on all lines to help accommodate crowds, officials said. Normally, Metro relies on a combination of four-car and six-car trains. Also, a special holiday schedule has been drawn up.
On the Blue, Orange and Yellow lines, trains are to run every eight minutes from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., more frequently than during the 1981 inaugural events. This schedule is to provide service every four minutes between the Rosslyn and Stadium-Armory stations, where Blue and Orange Line trains use the same tracks.
Blue, Orange and Yellow line trains will run every 12 minutes from 6:30 to 9 a.m. and from 4 to 10 p.m. They will operate every 15 minutes from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Red Line trains will run every six minutes between the Silver Spring and Grosvenor stations throughout the day and every 12 minutes between Grosvenor and Shady Grove.
Fady P. Bassily, Metro's assistant general manager for rail service, said the Farecard system also is likely to function more smoothly because of stepped-up maintenance of the ticket-dispensing machines and a recent overhaul of the Farecard-activated turnstiles.
Nonrush-hour fares will be charged on Metro trains and buses. Officials urge passengers to buy Farecards in advance for a round trip to avoid possible lines at the ticket-dispensing machines. Exact change will be required on buses.
One entrance to the Smithsonian station at 12th Street SW and Jefferson Drive will be closed tomorrow until 5 p.m. One entrance to the Judiciary Square station at Fifth and F streets NW will be closed after 6 p.m. Other entrances to both stations will be open.
Parking at Metro lots will be free. Bicycles will not be allowed on trains.
Metrobuses will operate on a Saturday schedule. Officials said that 30 additional buses will be stationed at key points in the area to supplement service on crowded routes.
Bus lines that normally use streets near the parade route will be modified. These routes include 11A, 13A, 13B, 30, 32, 34, 36, 50, 52, 54, 60, 70, 80, 81, A2, A4, A6, A8, G4, P2, S2, S4, X2 and X4.
Parking meter payments will not be required, according to District officials. Weekday parking and traffic regulations will be lifted.
Pennsylvania Avenue NW will be closed to traffic between the Capitol and 18th Street from 8 a.m. until the parade ends, probably about 5 p.m. Other streets near the Capitol and the White House and along the Mall also are to be closed from about 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Traffic will be allowed to cross the parade route on several north-south streets before 10 a.m., officials said. These are expected to include Seventh, Ninth, 12th and 14th streets NW. After 10 a.m., all north-south streets crossing the parade route will be closed.
Officials suggested that northbound and southbound drivers may use the Center Leg Freeway (I-395) under the Mall, 23rd Street NW or streets several blocks east of the Capitol.
Parking will be prohibited tomorrow on many streets near the Capitol, the Mall and the White House and on most north-south streets between the White House and 22nd Street NW. Police have warned that cars violating the temporary parking restrictions will be towed.