PRESS RELEASE from Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

For immediate release: January 21, 2009

Metro sets new record for highest ridership day of all time

1,544,000 trips taken on Inauguration Day
On Inauguration Day, Metro provided about 1,120,000 rail trips, 423,000 bus trips and 1,721 MetroAccess trips for a total of 1,544,721 trips, the highest ridership day ever in the transit authority’s history.

With hundreds of thousands of people in town for the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, Metrorail set a new record for the transit agency’s highest ridership on Tuesday, Jan. 20. when rail rides alone accounted for 1,120,000 trips surpassing the previous Metrorail high of 866,681 trips, which occurred the previous day, on Monday, Jan. 19.

On Metrobus, of the 423,000 trips taken, 228,000 were on the 23 “Presidential” bus corridors; 3,000 were on supplemental service to park and ride lots in Maryland and Virginia (outside the beltway); 177,000 were on regular route service; and 15,000 were on special shuttles put into place at locations to supplement crowding in the rail system.

“Our Metro system wasn’t designed to transport this many people in such a short time, but we did it,” said Metro General manager John Catoe. “Months and months of planning paid off. Throughout Inauguration Weekend, we effectively dealt with record-breaking crowds. On Sunday, we moved 616,324 people on rail beating our previous Sunday rail ridership record by 75,000. On Monday (Jan. 19) we set a short-lived weekday record of 866,681 trips. Then on Inauguration Day itself, our rail ridership surpassed the one million mark. The 10,000 employees of Metro stepped up, and today we feel a glowing sense of pride in knowing the important role we played in making the Inauguration a success.”

Between Sunday, Jan. 18, and Tuesday, Jan. 20, Metro ran 60 hours of rail service out of 72 hours during those days. Metro we set three rail ridership records--a Sunday record and back-to-back weekday records. Between Sunday and Tuesday Metrorail carried an estimated 2.6 million trips on rail.

More than 8,000 Metro employees worked on Inauguration day including 417 Transit Police officers; 266 volunteer police officers from other police agencies; and 340 people who volunteered to be Metro Ambassadors.

To date Metro has sold 93,380 Commemorative Obama SmarTrip cards. They are still available for purchase online and in our sales centers. Metro also sold 53,462 Commemorative Obama One-Day rail passes.

Metro saw unprecedented crowds throughout the day. Several parking lots started filling at end-of-the-line stations before 5:30 a.m. At the request of local law enforcement, Metro let motorists through some lots without paying after lines of vehicles began to back up on local roads. Delays were caused by riders blocking doors and causing breakdowns, and a woman fell onto the tracks at Gallery-Place Chinatown Metrorail station, which disrupted service at the station and Metro Center for about 45 minutes. Federal Triangle Metrorail station also was closed for four-and-a-half hours unexpectedly due to local law enforcement’s concerns about crowding at the National Mall. However, Metro officials say the biggest reason for delays was the sheer volume of people. Police periodically held people from entering extremely crowded stations until crowds on the station platforms eased.


Thirteen of Metrorail’s top 20 highest weekday ridership days occurred in the summer of 2008. Combined with Metrobus ridership, Metro typically provides about 1.2 million rail and bus trips on an average weekday.

Metrorail’s Top 20 Weekday Ridership Days
Date Ridership Event
1 01-20-09 1,120,000 Obama Inauguration
2 01-19-09 866,681 Obama inaugural events
3 07-11-08 854,638 Baseball/Women of Faith Conference
4 06-09-04 850,636 Reagan State Funeral
5 06-25-08 846,388 Smithsonian Folklife Festival/Baseball
6 07-10-08 844,530 Baseball
7 07-08-08 835,072 Baseball/Basketball
8 07-02-08 834,956 Smithsonian Folklife Festival
9 04-03-07 831,508 Cherry Blossoms/Baseball
10 06-24-08 831,464 Baseball/Basketball
11 06-20-08 829,998 Baseball/Basketball
12 04-24-08 828,973 Baseball/Basketball
13 04-17-08 828,418 Pope Visit/Soccer
14 04-11-08 828,132 Baseball/Cherry Blossoms
15 06-27-08 825,862 Smithsonian Folklife Festival/Baseball
16 06-18-08 823,516 No Event
17 07-01-08 822,931 No Event
18 04-10-06 821,283 Immigrant Rights Rally
19 06-19-08 819,979 No Event
20 06-26-08 819,722 Smithsonian Folklife Festival