Officials of the Washington Metro subway system said yesterday that they will open the parking lot of the Greenbelt station to passenger cars on Inauguration Day, reversing an earlier decision to reserve it for charter buses.
Greenbelt, the northern terminus of the Metro Green Line, is the most convenient station for many travelers from the Baltimore area.
The decision opens almost 3,400 spaces there to drivers who might want to use mass transit to get into Washington on Jan. 20 for the swearing-in of Barack Obama.
According to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration, reservations for charter bus parking spaces have fallen far short of expectations. WMATA said that while it set aside 1,100 spaces for charter buses, charter companies registered for only 35 spaces.
In addition to the Greenbelt station, the agency will open up previously reserved spaces at the Morgan Boulevard Metro station near Largo and the Shady Grove station in Montgomery County.
WMATA officials said they are no longer taking reservations for charter bus parking. They said that for safety reasons they will not permit vehicles other than public transit or commuter buses to discharge more than 15 passengers at Metro stations.
Government officials also said yesterday that they plan to close all bridges from Virginia into the District of Columbia except for bus traffic on Inauguration Day.
The bridge closures were announced by the Secret Service, which is overseeing inauguration security.
A map released by the Secret Service shows about 3.5 square miles of downtown Washington closed to traffic starting in midafternoon Jan. 19, the day before the inauguration. Streets will remain closed to most traffic until morning rush hour Jan. 21, Obama's first full day as president.