As thousands converged on downtown Los Angeles for the Saturday Women’s March, Metro Rail carried a total of 592,000 boarding passengers — 360,000 more riders than on a typical Saturday. Los Angeles Police Department estimates placed the crowd at 100,000 and event organizers pegged that number at more than 750,000.
On some Metro lines, rail cars were crowded — many to capacity — and most stations in downtown L.A. also were filled.
“This was an amazing experience for our region, as well as for Metro,” said Metro Board Chair John Fasana. “Whatever your political thoughts, it was exciting to see so many people exercising their right to demonstrate peacefully. And it spoke to the crowds that there was no violence and that despite crowding, at the end of the day our patrons were safe.”
To gear up for the march, Metro added service and security to accommodate what organizers at first estimated would be 75,000 participants. As attendance projections grew, more rail cars and more frequent service were scheduled. When trains began to crowd on Saturday, additional service was added. To accommodate the massive crowds, extra rail cars were added to service. The result was a 60% increase in car capacity, compared with a typical Saturday. Staff also was on hand to help new customers buy TAP cards at ticket machines and yet the lines were long in a handful of stations.
Among the busiest rail stations in downtown Los Angeles were the 7th Street/Metro Center Station, which serves the Red, Purple, Blue and Expo lines; Pershing Square and Civic Center stations, which carry Red and Purple line passengers, and Union Station, which serves the Red, Purple and Gold lines, as well as Metrolink. Beyond downtown, the North Hollywood and Universal/Studio City stations for the Red Line were among the busiest.
“I applaud our operations team for their outstanding efforts to provide this critical service to Los Angeles,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “As much planning as we did, the heavy ridership still required the good spirit and patience of our patrons, and we appreciate that. We are very pleased overall that Metro was able to serve so many people on Saturday.”
Ridership began to spike at 7 a.m., dipped between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and then peaked again at about 5 p.m. The event was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m. More than 40,000 new TAP fare cards were sold within a short period of time on Saturday. TAP cards are the method of payment for Metro trains and buses.