On January 20, 2009, America witnessed a truly history making moment when the first Black President was sworn into office. Bark Obama who inspired people of all races, genders, cultures and backgrounds drew an estimated 2 million people to the The Mall to watch his inauguration as the 44th President of the United States.
This is an account of one man's experience with the DC Metro Transit System during this history making day.
To begin with, everyone who came to DC knew that the transit system could potentially be shut down because there were early estimates that there would be more transit riders then the Metro could actually handle at full capacity. On top of that, transit stops along with streets would be closed in the vicinity of The Mall and the Capital Building. With that, I braced myself for the worst as I headed to The Mall from the DC suburbs in Maryland.
The beginning of the trip was not that bad. As me and my friend headed toward the nearest suburban transit stop we had noticed a long line of cars waiting to park, we thought this was not a good sign but we only waited 15 minutes or so. As we made it on the train, at 5:30 in the morning it was clear that almost everyone on the train was headed to the Inauguration. The train was semi-packed but nothing crazy as we imagined. As the train crossed into city and we got closer to DC, the train started filling up quickly.
Our first transfer. We transferred to the next train and amazingly the train was right on schedule and we had perfect timing. So far so sweat. Then came the 2nd transfer. The transfer this time was leading us directly to the transit stop that our Inauguration ticket to get off. The trains and the platforms were jam packed but we were eventually able to squeeze onto the train and make it to our stop.
Overall, our train ride lasted only 30 minutes surprisingly. For the overall train ride coming into the Inauguration, I would give The Metro a "B"
Unfortunately the ride back was not as smooth,
After watching history being made and standing on my feet in the cold for 5 hours, me and 2 million others decided to leave The Mall and head back to the Metro. Due to the large crowd it took 1.5 hours to leave The Mall...understandable. What was not understandable was the mass of humanity that was standing in front of our Metro stop telling the Metro Stop was closed and on top of that telling us to go back while hundreds of thousands of people are still coming from The Mall.
So...my friend and I snaked through the restless crowd, which took 30 minutes to get through to get to the next Metro station...closed. So we walk to the next Metro station...closed. Then we walked to another Metro station to see the gates locked and a line of people waiting for the gates to re-open at 6:30. It was only 3 pm.
We finally found some cops who told us that they had been sending people back to the first station that we had left because it was closed. The cops were shocked to find out that, that station along with all the others were...closed. As we walk back in a circle to the beginning we saw several sights at various Metro stops. My favorite sights were the National Guard taking over one Metro stop and the 3 block long plus line that surrounded all other transit stations.
Eventually we kept walking...and walking...and walking until we found a Metro stop that was almost 2 miles away from the Inauguration and from most of the Inaugural crowd. In all it took 4 hours to get back to my original destination on The Metro. 4 hours in the cold I might add with no food. But you know what, it was a once an lifetime opportunity. I don't know if I would have done it again but I am sure glad that I did. Not only did I get a chance to see history being made, I have a story to go along with it as well: "The Day the Metro Never Came"