DC Cuts in Half Inaugural Crowd Estimates

Transit survey shows about 2.5M are heading for the capital
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Dec 22, 2008 8:05 AM CST
A radio frequency technician for Sprint adds capacity to a cell site in preparation for next month's presidential inauguration, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008, in Washington.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Washington officials have sliced in half earlier estimates for the number of people expected to swarm Washington for the inauguration, the Washington Post reports. The original projections, as high as 5 million, were founded on the election’s historic nature, while revised numbers are based on talks with transport companies and other authorities. Still, estimating is “more of an art than a science,” says a city administrator. “Earlier it was speculation. Now we're beginning to flesh it out.”

Some 2 million people are now expected to attend, says a transit official, with charter buses and Metro trains bringing 1.7 million into DC, 400,000 more flying in, and Amtrak carrying 75,000. Meanwhile, a Delaware rep estimates 1.5 million to 3 million, compared to 500,000 in 2005. Still, other officials note that “this thing could be two, three, four times bigger than what we normally see”—with “normal” being Lyndon Johnson’s record 1.2 million attendees.