Washington Metro Packed for Inaugural

With cars prohibited into the National Mall, and trains booked up for weeks, Washington's mass transit system was pushed to its limits this morning as people crammed in for the inauguration.

"Widespread road closures, including all six of the bridges spanning the Potomac and Anacostia rivers and the major highways linking the nation's capital with Northern Virginia, forced visitors to bike, walk or take the bus or train downtown. Once downtown, they encountered a surreal scene: armored military vehicles blocked off streets that are usually packed with cars, and hordes tried to squeeze through checkpoints to enter the mall.

Already, much of the mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument -- an area roughly a mile long and two hundred yards wide and capable of filling with an estimated 1.5 million people -- is jammed with people standing shoulder to shoulder in sub-freezing temperatures.

With car traffic blocked and commuter trains and charter buses sold out weeks in advance, the biggest strain appears to be falling on the Washington Metrorail system, which started operating rush hour service at 4 a.m. and had processed over 409,000 riders by 9 a.m. Motorists queued up to enter station parking lots across the area before they opened, and by 6 a.m. several were already full."

Full Story: Inauguration Crowds Overwhelm D.C. Transit

Comments

Comments

Irvin Dawid's picture
Correspondent

Most timely!

I was hoping to read something like this.
If there ever was an illustration as to the importance of mass transit, I think this singular event shows it....but will it affect the make-up of the stimulus package?

Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

affordable lousing

I understand totally, Mr. David, but by analogy, striking art museums demonstrate not the relevance but the irrelevance of design to our usual lifestyles. In that example of the effect, instead of spiking our imaginations to see our experiences environmentally, design in singular things heavily reinforces the (sadly correct) perception that architecture as it is now practiced can have very little concretely to apply in a common life's surroundings outside of that .001% of our routine. For mass transit, a country right on the lip of growing impoverished paying the gambling debts of Manhattan's vaunted recent resurgence really won't have the demand depth @ the higher rents that are necessary to pay for highly structured vertical surroundings of even modest height. That is a crucial gap that prevents getting trains' and TODs' reciprocal needs for one another filled and then having the kind of activity patterns that allow temporarily pleasant crowding. Crucial. As the characteristic of every other type of district is precisely that it won't have throngs of people needing the same routes at the same times, your take on this article is most likely another case of trains' extreme importance for some things serving to underline the degree of their mismatch during situations that don't fit the bill.

Affordable Living

Give me a break. It is obviously much less expensive to live in a transit-oriented neighborhood where you can walk than to live in a freeway-oriented suburb where you have to support a car for each adult.

Maybe when gas prices go up again, you will realize that your addiction to oil is doing more impoverish the nation than the financial industry's gambling.

Charles Siegel

All right, have a break?

I think your blog on scientism is rather good. I'm assuming a future in which the currency has purchasing power neither for oil nor for replanning civilization. There are various obvious reasons for this assumption - none of them palatable, all of them dutifully denied by the officials we are entrusting with those branches of normal life - but it makes it unnecessary for us to flog this particular hobbyhorse, anyway.

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