Inauguration Crowds Cause Transit Delays
Published: Friday, January 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013 03:01
Travelling to President Barack Obama’s second inauguration on Monday, most commuters arrived at Capitol Hill without a hitch. The journey home, however, was a different story. Long lines, inactive escalators and stalled trains clogged the Metro after the ceremony.
"On the way there, it would’ve been smarter to take the Metro,” said Stefan Gavrilovski (COL ’15), who opted for the bus instead. “From what I heard it was crowded but it was quick. That would have been helpful on the way there.”
According to Gavrilovski, bus travel brought its own surprises. Barricades set up for the parade following the inauguration ceremony blocked off much of downtown D.C.
"I didn’t realize where [the bus] would be stopping so when we got to Foggy Bottom it was just, ‘oh that’s it?’"
Gavrilovski was glad to take the bus back to campus, however, especially after hearing of Metro passengers’ frustration.
“On the way back I heard [the Metro] was horrible,” he said.
Although the 779,787 people who rode the Metro on Monday matched average weekday traffic, the concentration of riders in stations around the National Mall — particularly L’Enfant Plaza and Federal Center SW— that swarmed the stations immediately after the inauguration ceremony placed a greater strain on the system than a typical business day.
In addition, a stalled train in Virginia further clogged transit.
“Any time there is a disabled train that causes delays across whatever line that train is on. So that certainly did cause delays on the orange and blue line,” Caroline Lukas, media relations manager for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, said.
The unanticipated delays created headaches for tourists who had come to the District for the inauguration, some missing outgoing flights or busses, according to the Associated Press.
The clogged system also posed problems for Georgetown students.
Karen Luo (COL ’15) was unfazed by the large crowds and delays.
"I’m from New York. I’m used to insane numbers of people and trains breaking down,” Luo said. “I don’t blame DC Metro because there’s only so much they can do. When you gather large groups of people, honestly it’s really difficult. I understand [that] metros break down.”
In addition to the stalled train, inactive metro escalators added to the frustration among commuters. But according to WMATA, however, the escalators were not broken.
“That’s a big misconception,” Lukas said. “[Inactive] escalators were part of our crowd management plan right from the beginning. They weren’t broken. That was an intentional thing and a tool we use to make sure that our stations don’t become overwhelmed with people.”