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Metro Officials Urge Inauguration Visitors To Plan Ahead

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A scene from the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station during President Obama's inauguration in 2009.
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A scene from the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station during President Obama's inauguration in 2009.

Metro is preparing to carry 600,000 to 800,000 people to President Barack Obama's second inauguration Jan. 21. The event has spurred massive preparations by the transit agency, according to WMATA General Manager Richard Sarles.

Metro will place extra police officers on platforms and Metro office staffers inside stations to help visitors use vending machines, but WMATA is still urging travelers to visit its website ahead of time to plan their trips and check out an inauguration travel guide video.

Plan ahead is the mantra for many aspects of Inauguration Day, including filling SmarTrip cards or buying fare cards for Metro.

"First and foremost, avoid the lines at the vending machines," Metro General Manager Richard Sarles said earlier this week. "We saw in past inaugurations people line up trying to get a SmarTrip card or buy a fare card for that day. Buy it ahead of time."

Sarles also says riders should try to avoid transferring at stations.

"There will be crowds there. You want to avoid that," said Sarles. "Just get off at a station near the mall and walk."

Three stations — Smithsonian on the Orange and Blue lines and Archives and Mount Vernon Square on the Green Line — be closed on Monday because of their proximity to the inaugural parade route. Bicycles and large coolers will be prohibited on Metrorail trains. Passengers will see extra security throughout the Metro system.

“We invite police from around the nation who work for transit agencies to come join us," said Sarles. "There are about 150 police [officers] from around the nation coming to help us out."

Metro will extend rush hour service from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m., running as many trains as are available, Sarles said. The system will remain open until 2 a.m. Jan. 22.

One piece of information Sarles didn't have: how much all this extra service will cost the strapped agency. "I'll let you know when it s all done," he said.

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