They began lining up at 3 a.m. yesterday, and a few hours later, about 100 people were waiting for Maryland Transit Administration officials to start selling MARC train tickets to Washington for the presidential inauguration, authorities said.
Ticket sales at the Camden Station were brisk all day, MTA officials said, with a steady flow of patrons paying the special $25 rate to ride the MARC for the Jan. 20 event. "We didn't think people would be out there that early, so we opened up an hour earlier than expected, at 8 a.m.," MTA spokeswoman Jawauna Greene said.
Yesterday was the first day that the tickets were available. About 112,000 people attempted to access the MTA's Web site in the morning, crashing the system, according to Greene. The site was restored and averaged 200 sales every 15 minutes, Greene said.
On Inauguration Day, all MARC service will operate as reserved trains, and tickets must be purchased in advance. Train service will begin at 5 a.m. and run until 9 a.m., then resume from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on all three lines - Penn, Camden and Brunswick.
About 25,000 round-trip tickets are available, but MTA officials expect to be sold out by the end of this week. Though MTA sold tickets at its office yesterday, from now on tickets can only be purchased online at www.commuterdirect.com. There is a 25-ticket limit with no refunds or exchanges.
President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration is expected to be one of the most well-attended in history, with some estimating a crowd of about 4 million. Area hotels have been sold out for weeks, leading many area residents to rent out their homes.