News & Politics

Metro Ridership Was Up a Little Over Last July 4. It Didn’t Even Scrape the Top 10 Ridership Days

Photograph by Sean Pavone/iStock.

Four hundred thousand, nine hundred and ninety-six people rode Metro on July 4, WMATA announced Friday. That was a rise of 1.7 percent over last July 4. So, a blaring endorsement of President Trump‘s retooled Fourth of July spectacle?

Mmmmmaybe. The National Park Service does not provide crowd size estimates. Trump, whose aides were reportedly terrified of a low turnout, tweeted that the crowd stretched “all the way back to the Washington Monument!” I was on the Mall until about 100 minutes before the speech and saw a good amount of open space, but there were long lines at the security screening stations around 6:30, about ten minutes before Trump went on. It rained, drizzled, or stormed most of the afternoon, which was miserably hot and humid earlier in the day, with a heat index over 95.

Photograph by Evy Mages

Whatever the attendance at that event was, the Metro ridership wasn’t anywhere close to the system’s Top 10 ridership days, according to this Washington Post list that a WMATA spokesperson tells Washingtonian is still accurate. The biggest day ever in Metro ridership? President Obama‘s first inauguration in 2009, when 1,120,000 rode. No. 10? April 10, 2010, when the cherry blossoms were in bloom, the Nationals played, and Stars on Ice was in town: 852,103 used Metro that day.

According to this list, Thursday’s total falls between April 30, 1983, when the Yellow Line opened, and July 4, 1984, when the Beach Boys performed on the Mall, marking the group’s return after President Reagan‘s Interior Secretary James Watt banned the surf-rockers in hopes of booking Wayne Newton instead. Average weekday Metro ridership is 594,000, Luz Lazo reports in the Post.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.