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Obama Inauguration Inspires Transport Solutions

Capitol Hill Obama Inauguration
Washington prepares for Obama’s inauguration. Photo by martinstelbrink of Flickr.

Plans for President-Elect Barack Obama’s inauguration, scheduled for Jan. 20, have caused local transport groups in the Washington, D.C. area to consider new and flexible options to help travelers commute downtown for the historic swearing-in ceremony, which is expected to draw at least 2 million people to the nation’s capital.

Obama himself will be taking the train, following in President Abraham Lincoln’s footsteps, from Philadelphia. [USAToday.com]

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association proposes setting up two valet stations (locations to be announced) where cyclists can park their bikes. The group gained financial support from America Bikes, a national cycling advocacy group in Washington. And Minneapolis company Dero Bike Rack Co. plans to lend its bike racks. The District Department of Transportation has expressed support for the bike valet proposal, but has not yet granted final approval for the sites. [DCExaminer.com]

But it’s not just D.C. folks that are getting in on the transportation action.

The Philly Velo Club for bicycling enthusiasts is planning a 140-mile bike trip from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. for the event. But so far, only 10 people have confirmed their journey on the group’s Facebook Event page.

(On a side note: Earlier this year, Obama pledged his support for bicycle and pedestrian projects to members of the Bikes Belong, a bicycle advocacy group based in Boulder, Colo.)

Businessman Horace Mackey from Atlanta, Ga. founded Obama Inauguration 2009, an online resource run by a group of Obama supporters that aims to provide affordable transportation to Washington, D.C. from multiple major U.S. cities, including Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles, by providing tickets for chartered motor coach and plane. Mackey was featured on CBS news.

TripVerde, a ridesharing service based in Austin, Tex., provides personalized “RideJockeys” to match passengers with other people in their area going to D.C. for the big day. The service averages three people per vehicle, and allows for riders to donate up to 1.5 cents per rideshare mile to Teach For America, a national teaching corps for under-resourced schools. [TripVerde.com]

A new free iPhone application, the “2009 Presidential Inauguration Guide,” will provide GPS-powered information about Metro service and parking garage locations, as well as calculate the distance you are from the steps of the inauguration. The app was developed by law firm Patton Boggs and public-relations firm Qorvis Communication, in partnership with mobile applications developerPointAbout and city guide publisher Zagat Survey, LLC. [PointAbout.com]

Of course, official D.C.-area transport authorities are also providing increased services to accommodate the flood of Obama supporters.

The Maryland Transit Administration is selling reservation-only, commemorative round-trip tickets for Maryland Area Regional Commuter Trains to and from Washington on Inauguration Day for $25. All three lines of MARC Train will run along designated routes during special times, and MARC Commuter Bus Service will operate shuttles from selected locations. Ironically, this news comes at the same time that the MTA yesterday announced its final decision on service cuts to take effect on Jan. 12 “to limit the damage from declining revenue.”

Metro officials are going to start testing eight-car trains to help accommodate about 300 more people for the big day. [BaltimoreSun.com]

Metrorail will operate rush hour service for 17 consecutive hours and will stay open for two extra hours. It plans to charge $4 for parking at its facilities. [WMATA.com]

Metro riders can also purchase commemorative SmarTrip® Cards, that cost an additional $10 just for souvenir value. [WMATA.com]

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