(Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post)

As thousands flocked to the Mall and other key vantage points around the region to watch the fireworks on Thursday, Metro saw an increase in ridership over last year.

The transit agency reports that about 540,000 rides were taken Thursday on the rail system. These preliminary numbers would be the highest Independence Day ridership since 2010, when the holiday fell on a Sunday.

With so many streets closed around the Mall, Metro remained the way many chose to get around on the holiday.

Because the holiday fell on a Thursday, plenty of travelers started their vacations on Wednesday. According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, more than 834,000 people were expected to drive out of the region for trips of at least 50 miles, with a third of these people leaving on Wednesday.

Metro reported more than 504,000 trips taken on Independence Day last year, when it fell on a Wednesday. That was a shade below the 515,000 trips taken in 2011, when the holiday was on a Monday. The highest July 4 numbers of the last decade still belong to the three preceding years, when the holiday was on a Sunday in 2010 (582,000 rides), a Saturday in 2009 (631,000 rides) and a Friday in 2008 (598,000 rides).

The rail system’s ridership has declined in recent years, dropping to 212.1 million in 2012 from 217.3 million in 2010. Rail ridership also dipped over the second half of last year, declining overall as well as on weekends and during rush hours.