About 266,000 boarded the Metro system by 10 a.m. on Inauguration Day -- about half the number of those who rode Metro by that time for the 2009 Inauguration, Metro officials said.

Few riders hopped on trains early in the morning, but by 8 a.m. crowds started forming at escalators and fare gates.

Two stations' platforms -- Federal Center Southwest and Judiciary Square -- were so crowded that train operators were told to bypass the stations. Metro transit police at Federal Center Southwest moved crowds into lines to reach the stations' two escalators.

And at two other stations, Metro workers lowered faregates to move people through quickly. Riders at L'Enfant Plaza and Capitol South at points during the morning were allowed to exit through the open gates. When they reenter the Metro system, they will receive a message instructing them to visit the station manager to fix their accounts, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.

"Any time the crowds behind the faregates get to a point where we're backing up onto the platforms, the police and the senior station coordinator can make a decision to open the faregates for a brief period of time," Stessel said.

First-time Metro riders found plenty of Metro transit police and other staff available to answer questions. Metro staff at end-of-the-line stations handed out wristbands printed with the name of the station to help people get back to their origin.

"It's good. It's been organized. We had no problem," Michigan native Deartriss Richardson said as she navigated crowds at Federal Center Southwest.