a second-hand account of the inauguration
Posted by Laura McLay on January 22, 2009
One of my students attended the inauguration and indicated that there were at least three logistical problems:
- The Metro was indeed a mess. Much of the problem, however, was due to the fact that there were not enough personnel there to help the out-of-towners navigate the Metro, so the confusion was worse than the crowds. I can believe this. All tickets are purchased by automated machines. The fare cost depends on where you are going (not a flat fare), and there is a discount 9am–3pm. Parking is paid by different automated machines and I still haven’t figured those out. Compounding the problem was the rumor that someone was hit by a train, which stressed an already stressed system. This rumor turned out to be true–a 68 year old woman was hit by a train and luckily survived. More than 1.5M rides were taken using the Metro on Monday.
- The second logistical nightmare was trying to get onto the lawn at the Mall. About 240K tickets were issued, and there were not enough personnel taking tickets and letting people onto the Mall. The line was very long and people became impatient after waiting for hours. Watch the video here. The crowds got angry and surged forward, breaking through the barricade of armed security guards. More than 4000 people with tickets missed the inauguration. (Side note: I have noticed that there is almost always a bottleneck at admission for special events. Understaffing admission seems to be a common oversight).
- Going to the bathroom was indeed a challenge. The wait to use a McDonald’s bathroom took an hour, but at least there was toilet paper.