The March for Our Lives 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:
Metro ridership high, but far behind Women’s March (4:45 p.m.)
By late afternoon, the number of trips taken in the Metro system Saturday was more than twice the number on a typical Saturday, Metro said.
A total of 334,000 trips were logged on Metro by 4 p.m. Saturday.
By comparison, Metro reported 597,000 trips on the system by 4 p.m. on the day of the Women’s March on Washington last year.
Archives and Federal Triangle stations have re-opened (3:30 p.m.)
Trains are now serving Archives and Federal Triangle station, Metro said. But riders should expect delays and crowds as thousands of people start to make their way back home.
Don’t rush to the Metro after the rally (3:15 p.m.)
If you participated in the March for Our Lives, consider waiting downtown to allow crowds to ease.
Metro said 207,000 people had taken Metro today by 1 p.m., many of them going to the rally. On events like these, the transit agency asks participants to stay in the District and wait a little longer before they board the trains after leaving.
The Archives Metro station is closed. Riders are being directed to use Gallery Place, Metro Center or L’Enfant Plaza. Some station platforms are crowded. The Federal Triangle station has re-opened.
Metro ridership: 207,000 (1:45 p.m.)
Metro’s ridership numbers from this morning illustrated what many riders were seeing: large crowds.
By 1 p.m., the number of people who had taken Metro Saturday was more than 207,000, Metro said. The number is three times the ridership on a typical Saturday by 1 p.m. But those numbers could be higher as many people were still making their way to the rally area Saturday afternoon.
By comparison, Metro reported more than 470,000 trips on the system by 1 p.m. on the day of the Women’s March on Washington last year. That was Metro’s second busiest day in history.
“It has been a smooth operation,” Metro Spokesman Dan Stessel said. The crowds started to arrive later than expected, with rail traffic peaking around 11 a.m.
The crowds were so large Saturday afternoon that trains were bypassing the Archives station. Metro officials said there is no problem at the station, but the area outside the rail stop is so crowded that there is no place for people to go to when they exit the Metro.
Archives will remain close when the event breaks and rail riders will be directed to Gallery Place or L’Enfant Plaza for Metro service.
Heavy traffic reported on roadways into D.C. (12:10 p.m.)
There’s heavy vehicular traffic coming from Northern Virginia and Maryland into the District.
Traffic cameras show slow traffic on various highways. Traffic is snarled at the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac River and portions of Interstate 395 in Northern Virginia. Vehicles are also moving very slowly in other entry points into the District.
Vehicles should stay clear of 7th Street NW, near Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Traffic is moving slow in that area around the closed roads.
Trains bypassing some stations as crowds head to rally (11 a.m.)
An hour before the March for Our Lives rally begins, participants are crowding D.C.-bound trains, carrying signs that read “Ban weapons of war” and “Children are the future: Protect them.”
The lines are reportedly long to enter and exit some Metro stations across the Washington region. In Silver Spring, there are long lines to purchase fare cards. The wait was so long to exit at Archives, the closest station to the event, that trains were bypassing the stop for a few minutes just before 11 a.m. Gallery Place was also experiencing heavy crowds exiting, Metro said.
Metro riders should expect sporadic station closures through the day. Some stations may be designated “entry-only” or “exit-only” to help speed up trips. Riders have been asked to use other nearby stations and walk to the event to avoid the crowds.
Metro running without delays; trains jammed with marchers (9 a.m.)
Metro trains were running mostly empty as the system opened at 7 a.m. Saturday. But by 9 a.m., crowds were picking up at end-of-line stations and service was operating normally and with no delays and problems, Metro said.
Parking was still available at the Metro stations, officials said.
People, mostly students, on the system were holding signs and heading to the March for Our Lives rally on Pennsylvania Avenue NW. A steady stream of marchers were arriving in downtown Washington hours before the program begins at noon.
Large groups of students were also reported early Saturday on the MARC platforms in Baltimore, with students heading to the District.
The major highways were mostly clear of accidents and traffic was light in downtown. But traffic backups were seen near the event where a number of streets remain close to traffic.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to gather in the nation’s capital today for the March for Our Lives, an anti-gun-violence rally organized by survivors of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead.
March organizers say the event will be a peaceful gathering, “created by, inspired by and led by students who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings.”
And it is likely to be a big one. Rally organizers have obtained a permit for 500,000 people to rally along Washington’s iconic Pennsylvania Avenue NW. City officials have said they anticipate as many or more participants. As of Friday, hundreds of buses had been chartered to drive students, their friends and relatives to Washington from cities in the Northeast and beyond. More than 300 buses have registered to park at RFK Stadium, according to officials at Events DC.
If turnout is as projected, this could be one of the largest marches in recent memory in Washington and a near-record-setting event for the region’s transportation system. Metro last year had more than one million trips on the day of a historic Women’s March on Washington, the transit agency’s second-busiest day after another historic event: the first inauguration of President Barack Obama. The Jan. 20, 2009, Inauguration Day registered more than 1.1 million trips.
City officials said they are prepared to deploy officers to guide pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Security is expected to remain tight on the city’s streets and transit network. And the National Guard will be ready to help if needed to help direct and control traffic, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said.
“Our teams are preparing for hundreds of thousands of people and we are going to be ready for everybody who comes,” Bowser said earlier in the week.
Demonstrators will gather on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, from Third Street to 12th Street NW. Organizers said there will be no march because of the large number of people expected to attend.
Access points to the event are at Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th Street NW, Constitution Avenue and Seventh Street NW, and Indiana Avenue and Seventh Street NW. The program will be broadcast on 20 Jumbotrons along Pennsylvania Avenue.
The rally begins at noon, although organizers expect that participants will start arriving hours earlier. The three-hour program will feature celebrities including Jennifer Hudson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Miley Cyrus, Vic Mensa and Ariana Grande.
Numerous streets will be closed Saturday. The perimeter for the closures extends for several blocks and is bounded by E Street NW on the north, Independence Avenue SW on the south, 14th Street on the west and First Street NW on the east. Parking all along the event perimeter is prohibited.
A full list of street closures can be found here. This map provides an overview of the road restrictions.
Metro has about 60,000 parking spaces at stations throughout the region. Parking costs $2 on Saturdays. But, remember, parking garages near the end of the subway lines fill in early. Officials recommend having a backup plan for parking. There is no parking for buses at the Metro stations.
If you are planning to park downtown, several parking lots are within walking distance of the gathering location. Use a parking site such as Spothero or Parking Panda to book parking.
If you arrive on one of the hundreds of charter buses expected to park at RFK Stadium, you can board a train at the Stadium-Armory station to the event or take the shuttle service that will be provided on DC Circulator buses to the event area.
The rail system opens at 7 a.m., and more trains are running to accommodate the crowds going to the rally.
The Federal Triangle station will be closed Saturday because of its proximity to the event, Metro said. But all other stations are expected to be open, and there are no plans for track work during the day. The closest Metro stations to the event stage are Archives on the Yellow and Green lines. Other stations close to the rally entry points are Metro Center and Gallery Place. Riders can also use the Judiciary Square and Union Station exits and walk to Pennsylvania Avenue.
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 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The bus system is running regular Saturday service. But several routes that serve Pennsylvania Avenue will be detoured and delayed. For your trip, consult Metro’s Trip Planner (www.wmata.com/schedules/trip-planner). The regular Metrobus fare is $2 using a SmarTrip card or cash.
The Circulator has suspended service on its Mall route for the event. But all other routes, including Georgetown-Union Station (which stops a short walk away from Pennsylvania Avenue) will operate normal weekend hours. The Circulator fare is $1 using a SmarTrip card or cash.
If you want to ride your bike, there are bike racks throughout the downtown and mall areas. But no bikes are allowed into the rally area. There is a long list of prohibited items here.
Capital Bikeshare stations are nearby. If you plan to use Capital Bikeshare, check its website and app before your trip to see which stations are available. The system will offer a “corral” to provide extra parking during the March for Our Lives. The corral will be at Seventh and F streets NW from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Street closures may impact access via taxi and ride hailing services such as Uber and Lyft. Lyft said it is offering up to $1.5 million in free rides to march participants, but they need to provide a promo code when they book their ride. Details can be found here.
A drop-off point for people with disabilities is at 7th Street and Maryland Avenue SW.