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Metro to close 13 stations for a week amid threats of inauguration violence

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 1/13/2021 Justin George
a group of police officers standing in a parking lot: Troops walk along 2nd Street NE at the intersection of East Capitol Street. (Photo by Jonathan Newton /The Washington Post) © Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post Troops walk along 2nd Street NE at the intersection of East Capitol Street. (Photo by Jonathan Newton /The Washington Post)

Metro will shut down more than a dozen stations near the U.S. Capitol and Mall for days around the presidential inauguration because of the possibility of violent protests.

Starting Friday, the transit agency will begin closing 13 stations through the following Thursday, the day after President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on the steps of the Capitol. Metrobus service and routes also will be adjusted around a security perimeter guarded by fences and an expected 20,000 members of the National Guard.

The transit precautions were made through coordination with the Secret Service, which is directing safety of the event after last week’s attempted insurrection and riot at the U.S. Capitol that left five dead and wounded several others.

“We are working closely with our regional and federal partners to keep the public safe during this National Special Security Event and to discourage travel within the secure zone,” Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said. “While we are supporting law enforcement plans to enhance security, we are also keeping essential services in place for our residents who need to get to work, to medical appointments, and to grocery stores.”

The closures will start Friday at 11 Metro stations near the Capitol and Mall. Two more will close Saturday, and all will remain closed until Jan. 21, Metro said in a statement.

About 20,000 National Guardsmen could arrive in Washington, officials say, in swelling inauguration security effort

Wait times of 12 minutes on the Red Line and 15 minutes on all other lines can be expected starting Friday. Trains will bypass and run through closed Metro stations without stopping, Metro said.

Stations closing on Friday include: Farragut North, Judiciary Square and Union Station on the Red Line; Archives on the Green and Yellow lines; Arlington Cemetery on the Blue Line; Farragut West, McPherson Square, Federal Center SW, Capitol South, Smithsonian and Federal Triangle on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines.

Stations closing Saturday are Metro Center and Gallery Place, two of the largest transfer stations.

Metro plans to detour 26 bus routes around the Capitol’s expanded security perimeter beginning Friday through Jan. 21, the following Thursday. Metrobus will operate with a normal service to accommodate customers making trips outside the zone, with the exception of Jan. 20, when buses will operate on a Saturday schedule on the day of the inauguration, Metro said.

“Customers traveling through downtown should allow additional travel time due to detours and road closures around the security perimeter,” Metro said. “Additional station closures and bus detours may be necessary on a temporary basis during this period for security reasons.”

Metro and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) urged bus riders to check online schedules before traveling.

“Pay close attention to the @wmata schedule for the days ahead,” Bowser said in a tweet.

On Jan. 6, the pro-Trump protest and attempted insurrection coincided with the biggest Metrorail ridership spike in months, according to Metro records.

Trains recorded 132,000 trips, compared with 70,000 the previous Wednesday, 74,000 on Dec. 23 and 78,000 on Dec. 9. The spike in riders came even as Metro closed three hours early on Wednesday because of the violence at the Capitol and curfews issued.

Metrobus ridership, in comparison, saw a dip on Jan. 6. About 131,000 people rode Metrobus compared with 180,000 on Dec. 30, 197,000 on Dec. 23 and 180,000 on Dec. 9.

Metrorail last saw daily ridership climb above 100,000 on Aug. 28, the day of the March on Washington civil rights demonstrations. Metro reported 110,000 trips that day, according to records.

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