Taxis Wait for Inaugural Day Strategy

Valencia Mohammed | 1/7/2009, 1:17 p.m.

D.C. taxicab drivers have been watching and waiting as the transportation plan for the nation€s largest Presidential Inauguration celebration unfolds. Military troops, police officers, Secret Service, FBI operatives, CIA agents, SWAT teams, surveillance cameras, shot spotters, traffic cops, helicopters, tow trucks, buses, millions of people and the first African American President will convene in the nation€s capital on Jan. 20.
For several weeks, key representatives from the D.C. Professional Taxicab Drivers' Association (DCPTDA) requested meetings with members of the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) to discuss ways the industry could assist transporting large crowds to and from the District. DCPTDA and other D.C. taxi cab leaders have devised a plan of action they feel will benefit the Inaugural Committee.

As pointed out by the organization: there are 6,000 licensed taxis in the District; the drivers have criminal background checks and FBI clearance; taxis have dispatch functioning capabilities; taxi drivers know all routes inside the District (without using navigational technology); and taxis transported participants for the Million Man March.

€We feel that we€ve been left out of the loop because of our estranged relationship with the mayor,€ said Nathan Price, president of DCPTDA. €We, too, want to sit at the table and discuss what we feel is best considering the nature of security, traffic patterns and crowd control.€

According to official reports, there are 10,000 registered buses to be docked at various locations throughout the District. WMATA officials claim it can transport no more than one million people for the event.

€With crowds, anticipated to breaking records, the demands for bus parking is also to be unprecedented,€ said Frank Seales, Jr., interim director of the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT).
According to DDOT, buses will be parked at several locations in and around the District, including RFK Stadium, Morgan Blvd, Greenbelt, Vienna, Shady Grove, Falls Church and Van Dorn Metrorail parking lots.

There will be shuttle buses from RFK Stadium taking passengers to the National Mall. The U.S. Secret Service has deemed the Inauguration as a special national security event and due to security measures, the two closest metrorails to the national Mall, Archives-Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station on Metro's green and yellow lines and the Smithsonian station on the blue and orange lines, will be closed.

€That leaves the majority of people on foot. There will be no downtown parking. Some people find it difficult to walk one block. Ten blocks for some people and two miles for others is more than they can bear. All we are asking is to be a part of the solution,€ Price said.

For security reasons, PIC has declared Inaugural participants can not have walkers, strollers, or canes on the mall.

€How are the people going to get there? All we€re asking is to allow us to assist in transportation,€ Price said.

Leon Swain, chair of the D.C. Taxicab Commission, said he has been kept abreast of the Inaugural committee€s activities but has not been asked for specifics to assist. A major announcement regarding pedestrian and traffic patterns is expected this week. For more information visit www.dc.gov.