This post has been updated.
Thousands of people are expected to be in the region Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington, an event that could draw larger crowds than Inauguration Day itself, and present travel challenges for participants and residents.
Drivers will encounter day-long— and rolling— road closures near the Mall and public transit users should expect long waits at Metro stations and crowding on platforms and trains.
“People need to allow themselves lots of extra time for reaching the rally point,” our in-house expert, Dr. Gridlock, aka Robert Thomson says. “They are going to have to be very, very patient with crowding conditions and trains may be running much slower than people would like.”
Metro announced Wednesday that trains will start running at 5 a.m. and up to two dozen trains will be added to accommodate the crowds. (The transit agency had originally said it would run regular Saturday service, which meant stations opening at 7 a.m.)
Other good news is there are no scheduled station closings or track work.
Metro Spokesman Dan Stessel said Tuesday the transit agency is “closely following attendance projections” and has the “ability to adjust as needed.”
Road restrictions will not be as extensive as those on Inauguration Day, and officials say they expect the security fences around the U.S. Capitol for the inaugural events to be down by Saturday morning, which should make it easier for the circulation of pedestrian traffic in that area. Pennsylvania Avenue, where the inauguration parade takes place Friday, may still be closed, the District’s top homeland security official said last week.
Traffic control officers will be guiding traffic at various intersections. And visitors should also expect tight security, including bag checks to enter the event. Participants should leave large backpacks and other prohibited items such weapons and drones at home.
If you are coming down for the march by car, bus, or transit, the key is to have a plan, be ready to walk and have lots of patience as you may encounter delays and crowding along your trip. Here’s what you need to know:
What is the Women’s March on Washington about?
Demonstrators will gather for a rally at 3rd Street and Independence Avenue on the morning after the transfer of power to president-elect Donald Trump. The crowds will then march along the National Mall to The Ellipse, near the Washington Monument. Thousands of people are expected at the event, which organizers say is not a protest but a way to “promote women’s equality and defend other marginalized groups.”
- The location: The stage will be on 3rd Street and Independence Avenue by the National Museum of the American Indian.
- The program:
- 8 a.m.— activities start with images and video on display.
- 9 a.m. — pre-rally with speakers, music and public service announcements.
- 10 a.m. — the official rally starts, featuring celebrities including Katy Perry, Cher, America Ferrera and Uzo Aduba
- 1 p.m. — participants start marching toward The Ellipse where the program will end.
- The March route: The group will begin to walk from the gathering location around 1 p.m. and march west on Independence Avenue SW, from 3rd Street SW, to 14th Street SW; then will turn north on 14th Street SW to Constitution Avenue NW; and will march west on Constitution Avenue NW to 17th Street NW, near the Ellipse and Washington Monument, where the events will come an end.
I’m planning to drive. What should I know?
The Metropolitan Police Department says the following roads will close starting at 3 a.m. Saturday and will re-open about 6 p.m.:
- 3rd Street NW, from Constitution Avenue NW, to C Street SW
- Independence Avenue SW, from First Street SW, to 6th Street SW
- Maryland Avenue SW, from First Street SW, to Independence Avenue SW
- 4th Street NW, from Constitution Avenue NW, to C Street SW
Besides the day closures, drivers in the area should anticipate rolling street closures starting around 1 p.m., when participants will start a march along the National Mall. This will affect portions of Independence Avenue SW, 14th Street SW and Constitution Avenue NW.
Is there parking?
At the Metro. Metro has about 60,000 parking spaces in 29 lots and 22 garages throughout the region available for use on Inauguration Day. Parking is free on weekends.
In Downtown. Several parking lots downtown are within walking distance to the gathering location. Use a parking app such as Spothero to book parking.
Bus parking. Charter buses at RFK Stadium sold out last week and officials said they were working to find satellite locations for more buses. If you arrive on one of the 1200 charter buses expected at RFK, you can board a train at Stadium-Armory station to the Mall area.
Metro is making 100 bus spots available at Greenbelt and Landover stations. Reservations are required through U Street Parking.
How else can I get there?
Metro. Metro trains will start running at 5 a.m. and up to two dozen trains will be added for the event.
The additional trains will be deployed on the Red and Orange lines, which expect high ridership to the march, Metro said. Trains will also be added between Franconia-Springfield and Greenbelt, running on the “Rush Plus” route via the Yellow Line Bridge from 6 to 10 a.m. and 1 to 5 p.m.
Stations served by multiple lines will see trains more frequently. For example, Metro says, trains every 12 minutes from the endpoints means a train every 4 minutes between Stadium-Armory and Federal Center SW.
All stations are scheduled to be open and there are no plans for track work.
The closest stations to the event stage are Federal Center SW on the Blue and Orange lines and L’Enfant Plaza on the Blue, Orange, Yellow and Green lines. Red Line riders can use the Judiciary Square and Union Station exits and walk to the Mall area.
Riders are encouraged to purchase SmarTrip cards in advance to avoid the crush at fare machines. Each rider age 5 or older needs their own card to enter the system. Metro officials also recommend that you plan your trip so that you don’t have to transfer between lines: There is a station near the Mall on each line.
Metrobus is running regular Saturday service. Some routes that stop near the Mall include the 30S, 30N and 36. For a full list, consult Metro’s Trip Planner (www.wmata.com/schedules/trip-planner). The regular Metrobus fare is $1.75 using a SmarTrip card or cash.
DC Circulator. The Circulator will suspend service on the National Mall route. But all other routes, including the Georgetown-Union Station (which stops a short walk away from the Mall) will operate normal weekend hours. The Circulator fare is $1 using a SmarTrip card or cash.
DC Streetcar. The streetcar will open at 7 a.m. Saturday, an hour earlier than normal, to provide a link to march attendants. Visitors arriving by charter bus at RFK can access the DC Streetcar from Lot 6, at the Oklahoma Avenue and Benning Road NE stop, about a half-mile from the stadium. The DC Streetcar is free and runs to Union Station, which is a short walk from the National Mall.
Capital Bikeshare. The bike stations that closed for Inauguration Day will open in phases Saturday. If you plan to use Capital Bikeshare, check its website or the SpotCycle app before your trip to see which stations are available. The system will offer a “corral” to provide extra parking during the Women’s March. The corral will be at 4th and E streets SW from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit capitalbikeshare.com.
More biking. If you want to ride your bike, there are bike racks across the downtown and the mall areas. But remember that bikes are not allowed in the rally area or the march route.
What can I bring and what should I leave at home? Organizers are asking participants to travel light and expect backpacks and bags to be subject to search. These are some of the restrictions:
- Weapons of any kind are banned.
- Bags/totes/purses for small personal items should be no larger than 8” x 6” x 4”.
- If you require disability accommodations or related equipment, that will not fit into the above bags, enter via the ADA Accessible route: 4th St. SW from C St. to Independence Ave.
- Canes, walking sticks, walkers, and portable seats are allowed for individuals who require them for mobility and accessibility on a regular basis.
- Flags are allowed, but not on a pole. Posters and signs are allowed, but not with the use of wooden sign posts.
- Folding chairs are not permitted.
See the Women’s March website for a full list.