D.C. Metro Ridership On Day Of Beck Rally Up 200,000 From Comparable Saturday Figures

I noted in a comment to Steven Taylor’s post about the politics of crowd estimates that the ridership numbers from the Washington, D.C.’s Metro system would give us at least some idea of how many people may have been in attendance at Saturday’s Glenn Beck rally at the Lincoln Memorial.

Those figures were released today:

Metrorail logged more than a half million trips on Saturday as rallies drew crowds to the National Mall.

Metro announced Monday that it tallied 510,000 trips on Saturday. The figure is significantly higher than usual Saturday ridership numbers. Metro saw 303,997 trips on the same Saturday in 2009 and 301,604 trips a week earlier, officials said.

TV and radio talk show host Glenn Beck organized the conservative “Restoring Honor” rally on Saturday on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Saturday was the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the memorial

By all accounts, the Sharpton rally was very sparsely attended, and attendance at the Nationals game was reported at 30,688 for an evening game.

While it’s not necessarily an accurate representation of the number of people who attended, since people use the Metro system on weekends for other weekends, an increased of nearly 200,000 riders on a weekend is fairly significant and indicates that the rally itself was pretty well attended.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. alkali says:

    So 100K (200K divided by 2 trips per attendee)?

  2. That depends on whether the same farecard was used for both the incoming and return trip. If it was, my understanding is that Metro only counts that as one rider.

  3. jen says:

    We went and I can attest that as we drove past it at about 7:45am, the Vienna Metro lots appeared full, with lines of cars backed up on I-66. And the lines of people in the pedestrian overpass were as crowded as they were for 9/12 last year.

    We rode the Metro from Dunn Loring. The parking lot at DL was about 1/3 full when we got there at about 8am. There was a pretty significant line to buy tickets. Since we already had them, we went on down to the platform.

    When the train arrived, it was about 90% full from the Vienna station passengers, but we managed to squeeze onto a train with our stroller with the help of folks already on board. And then we somehow managed to squeeze on more passengers at every station until we arrived at Farrugut West station.

    I’ll say this, too. Metro doesn’t account for the buses. I think I read that there were about 1000 buses bringing folks in. And I can testify that a friend dropped off her parents in DC, so who knows how many other locals did the same for out of town friends/family.

  4. Anon says:

    Here is an interesting link (http://stevedoig.com/archives/250) to someone who actually did a crowd-size estimate. He also did an estimate of Obama’s inauguration.

  5. Anon says:

    This link here (http://www.wmata.com/rail/disruption_reports/yesterdays_service_report.cfm?ReportID=1916) suggests that the number represent actual trips (entries/exits).

  6. Nick says:

    A trip is a paper fare ticket or SmarTrip card being read when you board the Metro. This was something I had to look up a while back to see how much this peak-of-peak charge would change my commute cost.
    On I-66 there was on accident blocking the 2 left lanes of traffic prior to the Vienna Metro station at around 9:30 AM. The 2 right lanes of traffic were closed for construction immediately following the Vienna Metro. If people were driving they may not have made it at all.
    At 10:00 AM Vienna Metro was full of illegally parked cars. I drove to Dunn Loring via rt 29 and found a spot without a problem. Dunn Loring has just under 1,500 parking spots and Vienna has a little over 5,000 spots to park. Somebody told me that in Vienna they eventually ran out of paper tickets at the machines.
    There are not a large number of Metro buses running extremely early in the morning on weekends, that is not rush hour. Weekends do not have as many buses (I hated that when I had to work weekends). Unless a lot of locals took the bus I don’t see many people from out of town taking a metro bus… locals are generally not Beck fans.
    Buses regularly litter the National Mall, even on weekends. I don’t know how 1000 extra buses would get everyone there in one piece unless they left at 4 AM.

  7. Don’t forget all of the tour buses and the people who drove in. I was at the Mall overnight, and there were hundreds there who wouldn’t be in the Metro figures. In fact, the Metro didn’t start running until 7 a.m., and there were already thousands there by then – the crowds started really streaming in at 4:30 a.m.

  8. MarkedMan says:

    All said and done though, looking at the earlier shots, it was a pretty significant crowd, roughly comparable to the million man march (which almost certainly did not have a million people) and the larger 2001-2005 era anti-war marches.  Probably as big as the promise keepers.
    BTW, was I delusional or did Beck call Obama “demonic” in an interview afterwards, via a two step process?  Obama believes in liberation theology, LT is demonic, leaving it up to the listener to make the connection.