MTA prepares to carry Inauguration Day crowds

December 09, 2008|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,michael.dresser@baltsun.com

Expecting record crowds in Washington for the inauguration of Barack Obama, the Maryland Transit Administration is planning a special schedule of commuter buses and all-reserved MARC trains for Jan. 19 and 20.

The MTA said yesterday that it will introduce a dedicated Web page Friday to provide detailed information on the agency's inauguration plans. The site will also provide information about MTA service on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday Jan. 19, which is the day before the inauguration.

Cheron Wicker, an MTA spokeswoman, said the agency expects to carry about 30,000 passengers on Inauguration Day on its MARC and commuter bus services. Because both days are federal holidays, the MTA is not expecting to carry much of the commuter traffic it normally serves on weekdays.

MARC generally does not offer service on federal holidays, but the MTA is making an exception because of the many inaugural events over the extended weekend.

The MTA says it will offer regular MARC service Jan. 19 on the Penn Line and limited service on the Camden and Brunswick lines. In addition, if it obtains federal approval, it will offer commuter bus service from designated park-and-ride lots to Washington Metro stations. Specifics of the Jan. 19 commuter bus service have not been announced.

On Inauguration Day, the MTA will operate all-reserved trains on a special schedule, with all tickets sold in advance. Tickets will go on sale on a date to be announced late this month and will be available through the Web site, Wicker said.

Wicker said the MTA will issue commemorative tickets, individualized for each of the three MARC lines and for the commuter bus service. "They're beautiful," Wicker said. She said there will be no assigned seats, and no standing-room tickets will be sold. "They will sell out," she said.

The MTA will operate MARC trains from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. on the Penn, Camden and Brunswick lanes Jan. 20, resuming service from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wicker said MARC service will not operate north of Penn Station because the MTA is concentrating its resources in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

In addition, the MTA hopes to offer commuter bus service to the Washington Metro system Jan. 20 from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. and return service from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Commuter buses will not go into downtown Washington but will discharge passengers at Metro stations - most likely Greenbelt, New Carrollton and Silver Spring - on Jan. 19 and 20. State officials are waiting for federal approval to offer such service.

The MTA warned that it expects "extremely crowded conditions" on Inauguration Day.

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