Metro experienced heaver-than-usual ridership for a holiday Monday as a result of the inauguration ceremony on the Mall, but the number of riders was well below the record number who used the system for President Obama's first inauguration in 2009.
As of Monday afternoon, Metro had reported that 657,000 people had entered the system, about 70 percent of the 923,000 who had entered the system by the same time four years ago.
In 2009 Metro had 1.1 million riders enter the system, the highest number ever for a single day. Full-day numbers for 2013 were not available Monday night.
Much of the crowding came after the public ceremony, as thousands tried to enter the system all at once. At one point, Metro was advising pedestrians to use other entrances to the L'Enfant Plaza station after crowding was reported at the entrance/exit at 7th Street and Maryland Avenue. Riders at all Metro stations near the Mall were asked to choose stations to avoid having to transfer trains.
Shortly after 2:40 p.m., Metro announced that the entrance to the Smithsonian station at 12th Street and Independence Avenue, which had been closed during the inaugural ceremony, would be open for the boarding of trains only. No riders would be allowed to exit to the Mall from Smithsonian. Smithsonian, Metro Center, and Archives were the three stations closed by Metro at the start of the day.
Delays were also reported on the Blue and Orange lines in the direction of Vienna and Franconia/Springfield due to a disabled train outside Rosslyn station. Riders traveling to Blue Line stations in Virginia were asked to use Yellow Line trains from L'Enfant Plaza as an alternative.
Bus delays were also reported. All Metro buses bound for Union Station were detoured at 15th and Benning Road NE to end service at H and North Capitol Street NW. Buses to the Pentagon detoured at South Fern St and Army Navy Drive before resuming regular routes at South Eads and South Rotary Roads.
Despite the issues, good spirit prevailed by and large. One woman from Richmond, Virginia told News4's Shani Hilton that she was surprised at how well Metro was moving people along.
"Ain't too much that will spoil [the day] for anyone," she said.
Another woman from the Bay Area beat the crowd by leaving the Mall during President Obama's inaugural address. "I'd rather walk than stand around," she said.
The congestion after the ceremony stood in marked contrast to the relatively smooth morning. WMATA tweeted that parking lots at 5 metro stations were full to capacity by 8:30 a.m. Those stations are: Franconia-Springfield, Rhode Island Avenue., East Falls Church, Van Dorn and Fort Totten.
Large crowds were also reported at both Vienna and L’Enfant Plaza Metro stations. Elsewhere, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel told The Washington Post that at least three trains had bypassed Federal Center SW due to platform crowding.
Stessel told the paper that the main issue of the morning was too many people going to the Federal Center SW, Union Station, Judiciary Square, and Capitol South stations as a result of the inaugural committee putting those stations on tickets. Metro requested that only ticketed passengers use Federal Center SW due to the heavy foot traffic and the station was still "exit-only" as of 10 a.m.
NBC4 Transportation reporter Adam Tuss reported issues with fare gates at L'Enfant Plaza. Metro officials closed the exit on 7th and D for about 30 minutes Monday morning. The exit has since been reopened to all commuters.
However, not all stations were dealing with a crush of people heading to the Mall. Hilton reported that trains heading to Gallery Place from the U Street/Cardozo station were "full, but not packed. The station felt about as busy as a Sunday morning." Trains departing from Greenbelt were "about half-full."
Hilton also said that the system was "almost shockingly quiet" compared to 2009. After the ceremony, Hilton reported that trains were running at L'Enfant Plaza every "3-4 minutes" and were "not crowded."