Mea culpa, Metro?
The White House attempted to correct the record Monday, blaming the Inaugural Committee for the numbers it used in falsely claiming that Metro ridership was higher for President Trump’s inauguration than for President Barack Obama’s.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the ridership numbers were obtained from the Inaugural Committee, which received its information from an “outside agency.” The numbers proved inaccurate.
“Knowing what we know now, we can tell that [Metro’s] numbers were different,” Spicer said in the first press briefing of the Trump White House. “That wasn’t like we made them up out of thin air.”
Spicer took to the White House briefing room Saturday to berate reporters for what the administration called an unfair portrayal of the inauguration turnout. Friday’s Metro ridership was lower than for the previous two presidential inaugurations, and photos showed sparse crowds on much of the Mall, despite the administration’s claims that the crowds were record-setting and stretched to the Washington Monument.
The administration even disputed side-by-side photo comparisons of the crowds from the two inaugurations.
“We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama’s last inaugural,” Spicer claimed Saturday.
According to Metro’s actual ridership numbers, crowds for Obama’s 2013 inaugural were more than double what Spicer reported, standing at 782,000 station entries, and — in a bizarre twist — the press secretary actually undersold the numbers for the Trump inauguration: 570,000 station entries.
Neither were record-setting events for Metro, but a day after Trump was sworn in, Metro recorded its second-busiest day ever with 1,001,613 station entries Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington. President Obama’s 2009 inauguration was the system’s busiest day ever, with 1.1 million rail trips.
Metro declined to comment on the issue. We’ve reached out to the Inaugural Committee and will update if we hear back.