Another datapoint about attendence at the Teabag event: DC Metro has released ridership figures for the weekend. Look on that page for most of the raw figures below.
September 12, 2009 - Rail ridership: 437,624 Bus ridership: 236,347
(I sum that to 673,971 total trips)
That is well lower than average workday rail/bus ridership (which is over one million: 700,000 rail and 450,000 bus on most weekdays).
But let's compare the Saturday of 9/12 to Saturday one week earlier:
September 05, 2009 - Rail ridership: 300,963 Bus ridership: 236,347 * see note below *
(Sums to 537,310 total trips)
This past Saturday was about 26% above the previous Saturday's rail ridership. Bus ridership was the same. Teabag day didn't even come close to ridership levels for a regular weekday with commuters.
There were about 137,000 extra trips (that would include both to and from trips) the past Saturday over the previous one, meaning probably around 68,500 excess round trips on the subway this weekend compared to last. I wouldn't attribute all that transit to the TeaBag event, and one would have to figure in the people who drove, but that seems in line with official estimates of around 60-70 thousand protestors on Friday. Also, there were other events that same Saturday 9/12 (American triathlon and Black Family Reunion), so ridership would have been up for them, too.
However, it's apparent there was no huge unparalled ridership surge on Saturday that would have come from more than 100,000 protestors.
Let's compare ridership with Inauguration day:
January 20, 2009 - Rail ridership: 1,120,000 Bus ridership: 423,000
About 800 thousand more trips for Obama's inauguration than on last Saturday.
To throw in a weekend day for a comparison without weekday workers, how about the Sunday two days before inauguration?
January 18, 2009 - Rail ridership: 616,324 Bus ridership: 152,108
So, even the Sunday two days before inauguration had more ridership (especially by rail, but even by rail and bus combined) than the teabaggers had on Saturday.
I wonder what university Beck got his figures from?
None of the above is meant to estimate the numbers of people there on Saturday. It' s just to show that those estimating some huge crowd of over a hundred thousand or even a million are smoking weed from another planet.
* I realize Metro gives the same figures for bus ridership on both Saturdays 9/5 and 9/12. I'm presuming that's an artifact of how they count their ridership and not an indication that the number of trips were precisely the same -- still it's the figure they give both days.