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Many commuters staying home

January 19, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

DUFFIELDS, W.Va. -- How about trying to get to work in Washington, D.C., Tuesday with possibly millions of people pouring into the city for President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration?

No thanks, said some local commuters.

"It's a mess. I can't even believe they will be running (a train) that day," Brenda Owens of Ranson, W.Va., said Thursday night as she waited for her husband to return to the MARC commuter station in Duffields, in Jefferson County.

Owens said her husband, who owns a construction business in Washington, would take the today off.

Some regular riders of the MARC commuter train said they planned to either take a vacation day today or their employer was giving them the day off. Others said it would be impossible to work today.

Maryland state officials said previously that congestion in Washington for Tuesday's inauguration was expected to reach unprecedented levels and suggested people who work in the city take the day off if possible.

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No regular MARC tickets will be accepted Tuesday and anyone wanting to travel to Washington on the commuter train had to buy a $25 special round-trip ticket, officials said.

Peter Bernero of Ranson said it would be impossible for him to go to work Tuesday.

Bernero said he has been told that only "critical people" would be allowed to work at their jobs on Capitol Hill on Inauguration Day. Bernero, a computer technician, said he works in the U.S. House of Representatives but cannot be in the building where he works Tuesday.

"We'll be staying home," said Kevin Mangram of Kearneysville, W.Va., as he waited at Duffields for his wife to return from her federal government job in Rockville, Md.

Mangram said his wife was not upset about being forced to change her work routine.

"We're more upset with the $2 increase," said Mangram, referring to the recent decision to raise one-way MARC tickets from West Virginia stations by $2 rather than cutting service.

Mangram expressed dissatisfaction that MARC does not do more for its West Virginia riders and complained about the lack of weekend service.

Other MARC riders also complained about the rate increase.

MARC train rider Don Neizer of Martinsburg, W.Va., said he has written to state Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley/Jefferson, Gov. Joe Manchin and the Maryland Transit Administration to complain about higher ticket prices.

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