Needless to say, traveling by car will be difficult. You should be prepared to walk long distances. If at all possible, take public transportation. And, if you’re riding Metro, remember these five stations will be closed for security on Inauguration Day: Mount Vernon Square, Archives, Federal Triangle, Smithsonian and Pentagon.
(Check out our full Inauguration coverage for everything you need to know, including tips on how to get to get around, how to get to work, maps of the restricted areas, airport travel, train and bus travel, Metro and bus operations and more tips.)
So we figured this is a good time to gather some Metro-related tips for out-of-towners, new transplants and even locals who rarely take Metro. If you have any other suggestions, add them in the comments.
- Stand on the right. The single most important rule for the Metro system involves the escalators. If you want to stand and ride, stay to the right; if you want to walk, stay to the left. Be prepared for annoyed looks from regular riders and commuters rushing to work if you run afoul of this basic guideline.
- Fares and farecards. The easiest way to pay fares in the Metrorail and Metrobus systems is with a SmarTrip card. The cards also can be used on our regional bus systems. Our advice: get one as soon as you get to town and before you enter the system make sure you have enough fare for the entire trip. The re-loadable farecards cost $2 and are available at every Metro station and many convenient retail locations across the Washington region, including CVS, Walmart and Giant. Having a loaded farecard in advance will save you from the long lines at fare machines during your visit. If you are using Metrobus, the fare is $1.75 per ride. You can calculate your Metro fare by using this Trip Planner. Metrobuses also take exact fares in cash.
- Don’t block the doors. If you are waiting to board a train, don’t stand in front of the train doors. Let passengers exit the train before you board. Once you’re on the train, move to the center of the car — away from the doors — so other passengers can easily enter and exit. And do not, we repeat, do not take up more than one seat. Your bags and luggage don’t get a seat. If your belongings won’t fit on your lap, put them on the floor — out of the way of other passengers.
- Careful with the Metro doors. Don’t try to hold the doors open. Trust us on this one, it will close on you. Rail car doors don’t operate like elevator doors and will not bounce back. By trying to hold or force them open, you can create a door problem that ends up putting the train out of service — and making other riders very angry with you. If you are traveling with family, stick close together and board as quickly as possible to avoid leaving anyone behind. If for some reason a child or anyone in your group is left behind, Metro’s advice is to go to the next station and see the station manager, and they will help you get reunited. It happens and they are used to dealing with it.
- Keep walking. When you get to the end of the escalator platform, keep walking. We know you need to read directions, or figure out where you’re going, but find a safe place away from the escalators to do it. Lots of riders may be rushing down the escalators to catch a train.
- Keep your eyes off your cellphone and watch where you’re going. This one is for all of us. Distracted walking is a leading cause of accidents in the Metro system. Those incidents include getting caught in train doors and falling down the escalator or while on the trains or in stations. Metro’s reports on injuries suggest that the most frequent type of injury in the rail system results from slips, trips and falls of people walking and riding on the escalators while looking at cellphones. Don’t do it — plus it slows everyone down.
- Prepare for crowds and delays. The inaugural events, particularly Friday’s parade, are expected to draw thousands of people to downtown. The Women’s March organizers have secured a permit to gather 200,000 people near the Capitol on the morning after Inauguration Day. So be prepared for long lines at the fare machines, full trains and the possibility of intermittent delays. Be patient and be considerate.
- No food or drink. Eating and drinking is prohibited on Metro’s trains and buses and in the stations. Transit Police can issue citations to enforce the law. Plus, it’s just rude. Help keep the system clean.
Now if you are going to the Inaugural Parade, here is useful map indicating road closures and the parade route and some recommendations of how to get there:
The Inaugural Parade is probably the best chance for the public to see the newly sworn-in president without having a ticket. While you are planning your trip to the afternoon procession, keep in mind that Metro opens at 4 a.m. Friday. The Mall access points (which include bag checks) will be at the following locations: Constitution Ave. NW at Seventh St. NW, 12th St. NW and 17th St. NW. Independence Ave. SW at Seventh St. SW, 12th St. SW, 15th St. SW, and 17th St. SW.
Plan your trip so that you don’t have to transfer to another line. There is a station near the Mall on each of Metro’s six rail lines. Some Metro stations close the parade route are Capitol South, Union Station, Judiciary Square, Gallery Pl.-Chinatown, McPherson Square, Metro Center, Farragut North, Farragut West, Federal Center SW and L’Enfant Plaza.
If you are going to the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, Metro will open at 5 a.m.; the closest stations to the stage are: Federal Center SW, L’Enfant Plaza, Judiciary Square and Archives.
The District is a walkable city. Consider avoiding crowded stations and train by walking to the Mall. Also keep in mind the weather and dress warmly if you plan to stay outside for hours.