How Will D.C. Cope with 4 Million Obama Fans?
"More than a month before Obama is sworn in, D.C. is in the grips of inaugural madness. The mayor suspended all the usual rules for property rentals for the week (and won't charge local taxes on any rental revenue), setting up a legal free-for-all on the housing front. Planners are freaking out about what to do with an estimated 10,000 buses that will ferry people into the city for the ceremony (enough, if lined up end-to-end, to circle the entire Capital Beltway); there's nowhere to park them all, and not many good ways to get people from wherever they park to the inauguration. The folks who run the Metro system are basically just giving up -- they want anyone who's coming from less than two miles away to walk.
When public transportation officials start telling people not to take public transportation, you know things are getting weird.
Still, the Obama mania seems to be going well past anything the city has experienced before. Officials working for Obama's inauguration committee, which handles the parade and the fanciest parties, say they're confident the city will be ready to handle whatever happens next month. But if anything close to 4 million people turn up -- about seven times the city's population -- it's hard to figure out exactly how it could all go according to plan. By the time Jan. 20 actually gets here, D.C. may be completely crazed."