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Massive Women’s March crowd starts trip home; Metro warns against overwhelming stations

People jammed the Capital South Metro station to get to the Women’s March on Washington. Metro expects similar crowds this evening on the commute home. (Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)

The Women’s March on Washington was huge! But now the task of getting home faces the massive crowd, and as any regular Washington commuter will tell you, the trip home can be more daunting than the trip into the District. So expect packed Metro stations and trains, long waits at intersections and crowded bridges. Here is the latest news:

‘Keep going to the front! Keep going to the front!’ (4:41 p.m.)

As thousands broke away from the women’s march, the Farragut North station strained from the crush of people ready to leave downtown. And a broken escalator, routine for daily commuters, made matters much worse.

Beyond the turnstiles, dozens were packed trying make their way down one functioning escalator to the platform, waiting as much as 10 minutes. Some couldn’t even swipe past the turnstile because there was no rooms One group of friends started singing “Yellow Submarine” to lighten the mood.

An exasperated Metro police officer, barely audible from the din upstairs, shouted directions to manage the flow of hundreds of newbies.

“Keep going to the front! Keep going to the front!”

With lines to board four passengers deep, travelers quickly clogged up trains and struggled to make their way out at stations.

– Fenit Nirappil

‘We are seeing huge crowds’ (4:02 p.m.)

Some riders expressed frustration Saturday that local transportation agencies weren’t better prepared for an event that many believed would bring historic crowds to Washington.

“We are seeing huge crowds,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.“We were projecting large crowds, but no one knows exactly what large means.”

“And remember,” he added, “we are coming off of running 17 consecutive hours of rush hour service yesterday. We are providing significantly enhanced service.”

Metro is running Saturday service with some additional trains on the Orange and Red Lines. But the service was not quite rush hour service. To handle the crowds, Metro is also using eight-car trains. Stessel said about half of the more than 80 trains in service are eight-car trains.

Metro asks event participants to stay in the city before heading out to the Metro and allow time for the crowds to ease. If station platforms get too crowded, Metro officials may close some stations or have people wait outside until platforms are cleared up.
Metro is running its normal hours tonight, which means the last trains will be shutting down at midnight.

Backups on Metro as people streamed into D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington

By early afternoon, Metro said it was adding transit police officers were also called in for the afternoon to help manage crowds.

“We are managing through issues as they arise,” said Stessel, noting there really had not been any significant disruptions or delays Saturday. But throughout the day, trains bypassed stations that were too crowded, decisions that rail supervisors made on the platforms based on the conditions.

Metro ridership approaches half a million (2:30 p.m.)

By early afternoon, the number of people who had taken Metro Saturday was approaching half a million, Metro said.

More than 470,000 people had taken Metro by 1 p.m. Saturday, in what officials say is an unprecedented number of riders for a weekend. The crowds surpassed the ridership on Inauguration Day, and even ridership on a regular weekday.

For two consecutive hours the number of people who entered the system Saturday morning exceeded 110,000, Metro said. About 116,000 people entered between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 113,000 between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., Metro said.

By comparison, the busiest hour on a work day handles about 85,000 trips, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.

The crowds were so big that Metro had to close some station exits to allow people to clear the platforms. Officials said they closed L’Enfant Plaza station because the crowds outside were so big that people exiting the Metro couldn’t get out.

Metro was running Saturday service with some additional trains on the Orange and Red Lines. But the service was not quite rush hour service. For Inauguration Day Metro ran 17 hours of rush hour service but had much fewer riders.

“The service that is out there is what we are able to provide,” said Stessel. To handle the crowds, Metro is also using eight-car trains. Stessel said about half of the 80 trains in service are eight-car trains.

Metro is asking event participants to stay in the city before heading out to the Metro and allow time for the crowds to ease. If station platforms get too crowded, Metro officials may close some stations or have people wait outside until platforms are cleared up.

Metro is running its normal hours tonight, which means the last trains will be shutting down at midnight.

Beltway exit to Greenbelt station closed for two hours (1:30 p.m.)

Maryland State Police closed down the Greenbelt Metro station exit on the Capital Beltway for approximately two hours Saturday morning, due to the overcrowded parking lot and the long lines of people waiting to enter the station to attend the Women’s March.

“They were backed up all the way out of the station, so we shut down the ramp. The parking lot was already full,” said Cpl. Tim Woodward, of the State Police College Park barracks. “There were just too many people.”

Woodward said troopers were reopening the ramp just after 1 p.m.

Those closures affected one group of marchers who chartered a bus from New York City; 22-year-old Chloe Gbai said she could see the lines of people from her window as the bus passed the station and continued on to College Park. Lines were much shorter there, but it still took more than an hour to get into the station and travel along the Yellow Line to Gallery Place.

Parking at the Greenbelt Metro station was also a problem for Nilay Sheth and Jamie John, who drove from Ellicott City. When police turned them away, they drove about half a mile and parked in a random office building parking lot, along with other marchers. They worried that they might get ticketed or towed, but they didn’t know what else to do and wanted to make sure they didn’t miss the march.

“We don’t know if our car will still be there when we get back,” John said, shrugging.

—Martine Powers

Metro: Don’t rush to the Metro after the march (1:20 p.m.)

If you are participating in the Women’s March, Metro has a message for you.

“Consider waiting/enjoying Downtown DC to allow crowds to ease,” the transit agency said in a tweet.

Metro said earlier that 275,000 people took Metro Saturday morning, many of them going to the march. The transit agency in the early afternoon was urging participants to stay in the District and wait a little longer before the board the trains back.

Backups on Metro as people streamed into D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington

“After the event, Metro will be very crowded,” the transit agency said in another tweet.

L’Enfant Station reopens (1:10 p.m.) 

Train are now stopping at L’Enfant Station, Metro says.

Trains skipping L’Enfant Plaza station (12:47 p.m.)

Metro says trains are bypassing the L’Enfant Plaza station this afternoon because of crowding. Officials are asking riders to use other stations to get to the Women’s March on Washington. Be prepared to walk an additional mile or more from other stations including Smithsonian, Union Station, Gallery Place and Metro Center.

Metro ridership busier than most weekdays

Metro’s numbers from this morning illustrate what many riders are seeing: large crowds and much heavier volumes all across the rail system.

By 11 a.m., Metro said 275,000 people had taken Metro on the day of the Women’s March on Washington. The numbers are higher than Friday, Inauguration Day, when 193,000 trips had been taken by 11 a.m.

The numbers Friday were also much lower than other recent inaugurations. For President Obama’s 2009 inauguration was nearly three times that: 513,000 trips by 11 a.m.

Metro said in a tweet that the ridership Saturday is eight times a regular Saturday and busier than most weekdays.

MARC is adding more trains (10:57 a.m.)

The Maryland Transit Administration is adding six extra train sets to accommodate crowds traveling Saturday morning.

The MARC service is now five times the normal Saturday service “to deal with unprecedented crowd,” the MTA said via Twitter.

“We will continue to adjust as necessary,” the agency said.

Here’s a list of Metro garages where you can still park (10:40 a.m.)

If you are still heading down to the march via Metro, and plan to find parking, take a look at this list Metro just put out, showing what lots and garages have open spaces.

Several parking facilities are at capacity including Greenbelt and East Falls Church.

Heavy traffic reported on roadways into D.C. (9:31 a.m.)

There’s heavy vehicular traffic coming from Northern Virginia and Maryland into the District.

Traffic cameras show very slow traffic on various highways. Traffic is snarled in the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac River, and portions of Interstate 395 in Northern Virginia. Vehicles are also moving very slow in other entry points into the District.

I-95 South is slow moving slow from Maryland.

Parking lots full at multiple Metro stations (9:12 a.m.)

Metro says the parking lots at Vienna, East Falls Church, Greenbelt, Shady Grove and Wiehle Reston are full.

Look for alternate locations to park.

Orange, Silver Line delays as crowds wait in Arlington (8:57 a.m.)

Metro said riders heading to downtown in the Orange and Silver Line should expect delays. A disable train was reported at Virginia Square. The delay will likely impact Northern Virginia riders coming to the march. Hundreds are waiting at stations including Clarendon and Court House.

Metro parking lots at capacity; riders face crowds (8:38 a.m.)

Metro trains Saturday morning were jammed with people, mostly women, holding signs and wearing pink hats. By 8:30, parking at Greenbelt and New Carrollton was at capacity and the parking lots at Vienna and East Falls Church was nearly full, Metro said. The agency said travelers in Virginia should consider the Dunn Loring station as an alternative. In Maryland, parking spaces were still open in College Park, Landover and Largo.

The crowds at the end-of-line stations were specially heavy, Metro said. The agency is asking travelers to allow extra time to buy fares, or consider boarding at other stations closer to the District.

Service is smooth and no major problems had been reported Saturday morning. Travelers saw heavy police presence in some stations and lines at the entrance as riders unfamiliar with the system tried to buy or reload their SmarTrip cards.

In trains from Maryland and Northern Virginia were standing room only and packed with chattering young people. Some held signs and wearing pink hats.

Original post

Today, a day after the inauguration of President Trump, tens of thousands of people are expected to gather in the nation’s capital for the Women’s March on Washington.

Inauguration protesters vandalize city, try to disrupt Trump’s oath, police arrest nearly 100

March organizers say the event will be a peaceful gathering to “promote women’s equality and defend other marginalized groups.”

And it is likely to be a big one. As of Friday, the city had issued permits for 1,800 charter buses, including 1,200 that will park at the RFK Stadium, according to a spokesman for the District Department of Transportation. City officials said they were prepared to deploy officers to guide pedestrian and vehicular traffic. And security is expected to remain tight on the city’s streets and transit network.

The march

Demonstrators will gather for a rally at Third Street SW and Independence Avenue. The crowds will then march along the Mall to The Ellipse park, south of the White House.

Here is a schedule of events:

  • 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 group will march west on Independence Avenue SW to 14th Street SW, then they will turn north on 14th Street to Constitution Avenue, then march west on Constitution to 17th Street NW to The Ellipse.

Street closures

Road restrictions will not be as extensive as those on Inauguration Day, and officials said they expect the security fences around the Capitol for the inaugural events to be down by this morning, which should make it easier for the circulation of pedestrian traffic in that area.

The following roads will be closed until 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

Here’s what you need to know about the Women’s March on Washington

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 Mall. This will affect portions of Independence Avenue SW, 14th Street SW and Constitution Avenue NW.


Metro has about 60,000 parking spaces in 29 lots and 22 garages throughout the region available for use. Parking is free on weekends.

If you are planning to park downtown, several parking lots are within walking distance to the gathering location. Use a parking site such as Spothero or Parking Panda to book parking.

Bus parking. Charter buses at RFK Stadium sold out last week. If you arrive on one of the 1,200 charter buses expected at RFK, you can board a train at Stadium-Armory station to the Mall area. Metro has made 100 bus spots available at Greenbelt and Landover stations. Reservations are required through U Street Parking.


The rail system opened two hours early trains were added on the Red and Orange lines, which expect high ridership to the march. 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.

Avoiding rookie mistakes on Metro

Federal Triangle will be closed Saturday for security and logistical reasons, Metro said. But all other stations are expected to be open and there are no plans for track work. The closest Metro 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: Each line has a station near the Mall.


The bus system 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 ( The regular Metrobus fare is $1.75 using a SmarTrip card or cash.

DC Circulator

The Circulator has suspended service on its Mall route for the event. 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 three hours early at 5 a.m., 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 Mall.


If you want to ride your bike, there are bike racks across the downtown and the mall areas. A bike valet will be available at 10th Street and Independence Avenue SW.

Capital Bikeshare 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.