In a rare bright moment for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Metrorail ridership for the March for Our Lives was 558,735—more trips than most major events in recent memory but fewer than the norm from the last decade.
Metro proudly announced Sunday via Twitter that the number of passengers was more than 2 1/2 times the number of passengers the embattled system carries on a “normal” Saturday. However, Metrorail often registered between 350,000 and 400,000 trips in the past decade, according to numbers maintained by PlanItMetro.com, a transit blog maintained by WMATA.
No major incidents were reported during the massive gun-control rally. President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration had an estimated 1.1 million trips—tops for historic Metro ridership—while the January 2017 Women’s March was second with 1,001,613 trips. For President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, which occurred just before the Women’s March, there were 570, 557 Metrorail trips.
The National Park Service no longer provides crowd estimates, thanks to the brouhaha surrounding the crowd size for Trump’s inauguration, so we rely largely upon Metrorail stats for a rough estimate that does not include people who use other conveyances to get into the District (e.g., charter buses, ridesharing, commuter rail, bicycling and walking). It’s also important to note the obvious—inaugurations occur on weekdays, while high-profile protests like the Women’s March and March for Our Lives are typically scheduled for weekends.
The annual March for Life anti-abortion event occurs on a weekday, making it more difficult to differentiate event-related trips and regular commutes.
Martin Di Caro, the former WAMU transportation reporter, provided some useful context in the following tweets.
This is important because off-peak service levels (weekends included) are low, and with all the track work Metro plans to do, it remains to be seen when weekends will return to convenient service. Thus, ridership will continue to stagnate.— Martin Di Caro (@MartinDiCaro) March 25, 2018
Did you attend Saturday’s march? What did you think of Metro’s performance? Comment on our Facebook page.
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