Local

Women's March numbers boost Metro ridership

Metro riders, many headed to the Women's March in downtown Los Angeles, fill a train on the Gold Line at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.
Metro riders, many headed to the Women's March in downtown Los Angeles, fill a train on the Gold Line at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.
Meghan McCarty/KPCC

Saturday's massive crowd for the Los Angeles Women's March strained public transit and stranded demonstrators, in what the transit agency called an unprecedented day for ridership.

Metro rail logged a total of 592,000 boardings – 360,000 more than on a typical Saturday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Monday.

The overwhelming number of passengers were headed to and from downtown Los Angeles to join the Women's March, one of many held around the country to protest newly inaugurated President Donald Trump and his administration.

Los Angeles Police Department estimates placed the crowd of demonstrators at 100,000 while event organizers pegged that number at more than 750,000.

The riders also boosted the typical day's purchase of TAP cards, with several stations experiencing long lines of riders waiting to purchase cards. Metro reported Tuesday they had sold 40,000 TAP cards the day of the march.

Ridership on Saturday was heaviest on the Red, Blue and Gold lines and some passengers were unable to get on the trains because they were packed.

Metro originally planned to run trains on a modified Saturday schedule for buses and trains based on an early crowd estimate of 75,000. But by 9:30 a.m., some trains were at capacity and many passengers were left on station platforms watching filled trains pass them by.

"As attendance projections grew, more rail cars and more frequent service were scheduled," Metro spokesperson Kimberly Upton said in an email to KPCC.

"The result was a 60 percent 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."