WASHINGTON — Expecting big crowds for a third-annual protest against President Donald Trump, Maryland’s MARC Train has already announced extra service Jan. 19 for the Women’s March on Washington. Metro plans to avoid any track work.
MARC plans to run a special schedule on the Penn Line between Baltimore and D.C. rather than the usual weekend service on that Saturday. Because of the expected crowds, no tickets will be sold on board trains that day. Riders will be required to buy tickets at stations before boarding.
The specific MARC schedule for Jan. 19 is expected soon after New Year’s.
Metro has not yet formally announced its service plans, but it’s expected to avoid any major track work that day. The first year of the Women’s March was the second-busiest day in Metro history, behind only President Barack Obama’s first inauguration.
The second Women’s March in Washington in January 2018 was significantly smaller than that though.
“At this point, we are planning on full weekend service on Saturday, January 19, with no daytime track work anywhere and off-peak fares,” Metro spokesman Ron Holzer said.
Metro is now able to charge more to ride during larger weekend events, and now regularly charges riders $2 for parking on Saturdays.
Regular weekend service schedules call for trains every 12 minutes on each line during the day on Saturday, with more-frequent service downtown where lines overlap. Metro runs 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturdays now.
The day before the Women’s March, Jan. 18, is the annual March for Life anti-abortion protest.
When the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision falls on a weekday, Metro typically is able to handle those crowds with normal weekday service, but can add extra trains in the middle of the day as needed.
Organizers of both the March for Life and Women’s March remind anyone coming to either event to be prepared for crowds, a lot of walking around the National Mall area and to have lots of patience.
There could be a surge that weekend in Amtrak and intercity bus riders and in the number of tour buses coming to town, especially because the marches fall on the weekend before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
On the holiday itself, Metro plans to run trains on a Saturday schedule but with Monday hours of 5 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
The March for Life events are scheduled on the National Mall from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, before the actual march along Constitution Avenue Northwest to the Supreme Court.
This year’s theme is “unique from day one.”
Given the potential for an earlier Friday getaway ahead of the long weekend, the road closures associated with the March for Life could create more traffic issues for commuters than usual.
The Women’s March events Jan. 19 are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. along the National Mall. Protesters are expected to gather between the Capitol and 12th Street Northwest/Southwest ahead of the formal rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
“The 2019 Women’s March marks two years of resistance to the Trump presidency, two years of training new activists, and two years of building power. And this time, we’re coming back with an agenda,” the Women’s March website said.
Other people have said they’re having their own versions of the Women’s March that day in places such as Frederick, Maryland, and Winchester, Virginia.
“On January 19, 2019, we’re going to flood the streets of Washington, D.C., and cities across the globe. The #WomensWave is coming, and we’re sweeping the world forward with us,” the group said.
The group warns not to bring any weapons or drugs to the event.
“While marijuana is legal in D.C., the march will be on federal property and national park land, where marijuana is still illegal,” the website noted.
Marijuana use remains illegal anywhere under federal law, and using pot in public is not permitted under local District law either.