Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Scaling back the crowd predictions

I am not the only one doubting the numbers floating around for the size of the Inauguration crowd. Mayor Adrian Fenty has defended his prediction of three to five million people, but it turns out that his predictions are based on how many people the National Mall can actually hold. From WUSA9:

Crowd calculations are based on a 3 square-foot per-person formula. Fenty said that means the National Mall can accommodate about 3 million people, and another 350,000 can fit along the Pennsylvania Avenue inaugural parade route. Overflow accounts for the rest of the crowd predictions.

The Secret Service disputes those numbers, and is a bit more practical in gauging the size of the crowd. Secret Service Special Agent Malcolm Wiley tells ABC News:

"Based on known hotel bookings within 100 miles of Washington, a known number of planes arriving in the area, and an estimated 10,000 charter buses coming to town, the Secret Service is preparing for a large crowd, but does not believe it will be close to 4 million people."

The Secret Service does still think it will be "a larger audience than in any previous inauguration."

One question I have is how full those 10,000 charter buses will be. I have spoken with a number of tour bus operators organizing trips from New York, and none of them has completely filled his buses. Most are half full at this point, with the majority of bookings made immediately after Election Night. "I have sold only one seat in the last three weeks," said Neal Kellman of SolidPlanIt.

Feds, D.C. Prep for Inauguration Crowds [ABC News]
Fenty Defends Predictions For Inaugural Crowds [WUSA9]

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