Not sure what to think about WMATA station closures ... and the National Mall
In the wake of the threat of violence around the Inauguration, WMATA, the heavy rail operator in the Washington metropolitan area, has announced the rolling closure of stations starting later this week ("Metro to close 13 stations for a week amid threats of inauguration violence," Washington Post).
From the article:
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.
Now they've always closed some stations for the Inauguration because of crowd control or their location within the security perimeter.
But closing Union Station, which connects to regional passenger rail services, and Metro Center and Gallery Place, the two biggest transfer stations in the system, renders much of the system useless.
At the very least, free shuttle buses should be provided from Union Station to aid rail riders in connecting to the Metrorail system, to be able to complete their trip.
And it also demonstrates the need to have more rail station redundancy within DC to provide opportunities to connect to the MARC and VRE services apart from Union Station (on the Penn Line you can connect at New Carrollton to the Orange Line, on the Camden Line you can connect at Greenbelt and College Park, and on the Brunswick Line you can connect at Silver Spring).
VRE does have an additional train station link within the city at L'Enfant Plaza. Merging the MARC Penn Line and the MARC Fredericksburg Line is one way to provide more station redundancy and inter-connection ("A new backbone for the regional transit system: merging the MARC Penn and VRE Fredericksburg Lines"). Adding a connection to the MARC Brunswick Line at Fort Totten would connect it to the Green Line independent of the Red Line, and is a reason to do so even though there is a Red Line connection at Silver Spring.
... when I was in Liverpool a couple years ago, I was constantly surprised by the number of security personnel in the train stations in the core. It seemed like more than one dozen people (some of the LA Metro transfer stations seem to have lots of police very visible too.)
I figured it was to give people confidence, that maybe they were afraid of the city.
Ironically, after the last couple Inaugurations, I argued that it was a good way to stress test the system ("The subway and the inauguration," 2009) and that they should make Metrorail transit free for that day ("Should transit on Inauguration Day be free?," 2013, 2016), as a crowd control measure.The first Obama Inauguration in 2009 was probably the absolute peak of success for WMATA, with more than one million subway riders that day--and it was about 6 months before the terrible crash at Fort Totten which killed nine people.