- The Washington Times - Monday, January 19, 2009

So far, so good as crowded streets and packed Metro stations appeared to yield no major incidents in the District Monday, as the city inched toward the close of celebrations surrounding President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration.

”Everything’s in place and we’re ready to go for tomorrow,” said Malcolm Wiley, a Secret Service spokesman working out of the Joint Information Center.

The day prior to Mr. Obama’s swearing-in at the Capitol saw a continued influx of visitors but no apparent disasters. One spokesman at the Joint Information Center said the majority of calls received by law enforcement were “related to media logistics.”

The Associated Press reported that officers checked out some suspicious packages and vehicles, but everything was cleared, said FBI spokesman Richard Kolko.

“The fact is it was a very quiet day,” Agent Wiley said.

Paula Faria, a spokeswoman for Washington Hospital Center in Northwest, said only “a couple” patients visiting town for the inauguration were seen by the hospital’s emergency department Monday. But the injuries were ones that could have happened anywhere, she said.

“Our feeling is that the largest crowd is probably going to be in tomorrow for the inauguration, for the swearing-in and for the parade combined,” she said. “We’re all pleasantly surprised that things have been as quiet as they have been.”

Heather Oldham, a spokeswoman for the George Washington University Hospital in Northwest, said about 35 patients have come to the emergency room since Friday who described themselves as being in town for the inauguration.

Most came in for pre-existing conditions or conditions that flared up while being here, Mrs. Oldham said. Yet Monday was slower than it typically is, she said.

“Tomorrow will be kind of the real test,” she said. “That will be the culmination of everything we’ve been preparing for.”

Meanwhile, the Metro transit agency - which set a Sunday ridership record with 616,324 rail trips - still saw stations that were “jam-packed” on Monday.

Spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said tour buses were dropping people off to buy fare cards in preparation for Tuesday’s events, and one bus, its driver apparently unfamiliar with the area, became wedged under an overpass at the Fort Totten station.

“There will be things that are beyond our control, and people are just going to have to be patient,” Miss Farbstein said.

While thousands of inauguration onlookers are taking Metro, a shortage of other transportation has been the cause of some frustration.

Revelers pouring onto the streets Sunday night from bars and inauguration parties found taxicabs in short supply, particularly after Metro closed at midnight.

People lined the streets from Chinatown to Capitol Hill furiously waving in vain in hopes of securing a cab. One young man near Union Station punched the roof of a passing cab in frustration.

Near the Verizon Center, a D.C. police officer asked a cab driver if he could call more cabs to pick up the people crowding the sidewalk.

Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Traci Hughes said officers encountered no problems because of the taxi shortage.

Leon J. Swain Jr., chairman of the district’s taxi cab commission, said he didn’t receive any complaints, but wasn’t surprised by the demand.

“There are a couple million people in town and 5,700 cabs,” he said.

The partying did bring some other trouble. The District is allowing registered bars and restaurants to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. and food around the clock during the inaugural festivities.

Fred Moosally, interim director of the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, said officials caught three establishments Saturday and four on Sunday serving alcohol past the city’s usual last call, although they were not permitted to do so.

A hotel on Sunday night also was hosting entertainment without the proper permission - but the longer hours have gone relatively smoothly otherwise.

“From a regulatory perspective, the last two nights have been pretty quiet,” Mr. Moosally said.


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