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On 21 Jan 2017, the White House called a press conference where the press secretary accused the media of "deliberately false reporting" on two issues of which the number of people attending President Trump's inauguration was one. The inauguration took place in Washington DC. The number of people using the Washington DC transit system on the day of the inauguration was one of the pieces of evidence which the press secretary used to support his assertion that the inauguration had had a greater attendance than the previous inauguration and that the media was deliberately misleading the public by reporting otherwise.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the following:

We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama's last inaugural.

Source: "Sean Spicer held a press conference. He didn’t take questions. Or tell the whole truth", Chris Cillizza, Washington Post, 21 Jan 2017

Did more people use the DC Metro transit system on the day of Trump's inauguration than on the day of Obama's second inauguration (in 2013)?

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    Many comments deleted. Sorry, but we don't care about your political opinions. – Oddthinking Jan 24 '17 at 22:10
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    Why is this of any interest, or for that matter something to be skeptical about? How is this more important that More babies were born on the day of Trump's inauguration than on the day of Obama's second inauguration?? – dotancohen Jan 25 '17 at 15:12
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    @dotancohen White House called a press conference where the press secretary accused the media of "deliberately false reporting" on two issues of which the number of people attending President Trump's inauguration was one. The inauguration took place in Washington DC. The number of people using the Washington DC transit system on the day of the inauguration was one of the pieces of evidence which the press secretary used to support his assertion that the inauguration had had a greater attendance than the previous inauguration and that the media was misleading the public by reporting otherwise. – A E Jan 25 '17 at 16:33
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    @dotancohen I agree with you. Unfortunately that question was closed as off-topic by mods here skeptics.stackexchange.com/posts/36832/revisions , asked in a different form here skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/36843/… and closed, while this one skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/36832/… was reopened but currently has 4 votes to close. Crowd size estimation is difficult and is to some extent a matter of opinion ... – A E Jan 25 '17 at 16:45
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    @JimmyJames - ego? (i'm gonna go with Occam's Razor here and aim for most obvious explanation). However , this was supposed to be Skeptics.SE, not "let's score political irrelevant points".SE. – user5341 Jan 25 '17 at 18:15
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More people used Metro on Obama's second inaugural than on Trump's first. Spicer was comparing second Obama inaugural 11 am ridership (317,000) with Trump's full-day ridership (570,500). Trump's 11 am ridership was about 193,000. The 11 am ridership numbers were tweeted by Metro.

According to a tweet by Jim Acosta from CNN:

CNN has confirmed Wash Po numbers from Metro on full inaugural day ridership. For Trump: 570.5k. Obama '09: 1.1m. Obama '13: 782k.

Here is the link to Metro's official twitter account. Note that there was almost twice as much traffic on Saturday (Women's March on Washington) as on Friday (inauguration and a regular workday for many).

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    To be fair, there were also plenty of protests at that time, with people actually blocking the metro platform, checkpoints into it, and several roads both nearby and in unrelated areas. – Matt Brennan Jan 23 '17 at 17:05
  • Not to mention that WMATA was more than unclear about the modified schedule. – chrylis -on strike- Jan 24 '17 at 3:38
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    @MattBrennan Source? 'Cuz I live and work in DC and I had no problem getting around that day. – thumbtackthief Jan 24 '17 at 15:58
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    @MattBrennan It is fair, because protesters have been present at every inauguration since 1973. – aroth Jan 25 '17 at 1:01
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    More people actually use the metro on an average Friday (~696,000) than used it on the Friday of Trump's inauguration. i.imgur.com/eOtaDXs.png – Egg Jan 25 '17 at 5:54
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Comparable numbers are not being used in the press briefing statement. The 420,000 number can not be compared to the 317,000 number.

The 317,000 number in the OP is correct for ridership up to 11AM 21 January 2013.

The through 11AM numbers for the past four inaugurations were, as officially tweeted by DCmetro :

  • 2017: 193,000
  • 2013: 317,000
  • 2009: 513,000
  • 2005: 197,000

For the full day in 2013, as explained in the 22 January 2013 article Metro reports dip in ridership from 2009 inauguration:

Metro reports that 797,787 rides were taken on the rail system Monday. This is significantly lower than the 1.1 million trips taken on inauguration day in 2009. It’s tough to compare Monday with any other day, owing to the combination of inauguration and holiday, but Metrorail’s average weekday ridership was north of 723,000 in September (the most recent data available).

Also, keep in mind that "rides" does not mean people. When you go home, that is a second "ride".

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    "rides != people" is why the number of rides roughly doubles after 11 -- all those people then ride home. – Nic Hartley Jan 23 '17 at 5:40

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