WASHINGTON - It's not known yet who will be sworn in as president on Jan. 21, 2013, but Metro is getting ready for those who plan to take the subway to the Inauguration Day festivities.
Metro predicts between 500,000 and 800,000 people could attend the inauguration this year. While that is short of the 1.5 million people who crammed the National Mall in 2009, it could still mean some crowded trains.
Metro General Manager Richard Sarles says the transit agency will use lessons learned four years ago to prevent long lines at Metro stations and parking lots.
Metro passengers will have to pay the regular weekday fare to park, which could be as much as $5, but they will not have to pay until they exit the lot.
That is designed to prevent long lines entering the lots similar to those that kept people waiting 60 to 90 minutes four years ago.
To expedite the fare card purchase process for passengers, Metro will sell a special SmarTrip card with the president's picture on it, whoever it is, for $15. It will have unlimited use on both MetroRail and MetroBus on Jan. 21.
"You don't want to be standing at vending machines trying to get a ticket, trying to get on a system where there are five, or six or 700,000 people trying to get onto the system," Sarles says.
He says after Inauguration Day, the SmarTrip card will work like other smart cards.
"It's a great souvenir you can either keep it home in a chest or keep it for everyday thereafter," Sarles says.
Metro still needs to decide what hours the system will operate on Inauguration Day.
Sarles says Metro will have to wait to see who wins the election and what events are scheduled before that decision is made.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)