WASHINGTON – About 800,000 people are expected to flock here for the inauguration Monday. So how does everyone plan to get around? Traditional modes of transportation in the city include riding the Metro rail and bus system,taking a taxi or walking. But some things have changed since the first inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Uber,a black car service available in 25 large cities,recently finished a legislative battle in Washington. As of Monday,the company has started a new initiative: UberTAXI. It allows customers to use the Uber service at a cheaper cost than its sedan and SUV rides.
Uber customers use an application on their phones to summon a black car,which charges a set fee. In the new program,customers will be able to summon a D.C. taxi using Uber’s phone application. They will pay the rate on the taxi meter (which will include a $2 dispatch fee),plus 20 percent gratuity.
“We’re being really careful to only work with the top taxis in D.C. So we’re trying to curate our supply pretty carefully. We want to make sure that the quality of the product that we’re giving clients is what they expect,” Rachel Holt,Uber D.C. general manager,said.
Uber came to D.C. in December 2011. “This is our first inauguration. We’re going to be learning along with everybody else,” Holt said. “Our goal is to offer as good of an experience as possible for our clients.”
Capital Bikeshare,which rents bikes by the hour with the first 30 minutes free,will have two corrals,or bike stands that track the bikes and accept payments: one each on the north and south sides of the security perimeter,according to the website. The service has 1,670 bikes at 138 stations in the Washington region. The D.C. Department of Transportation will provide a large parking area near the White House,at 16th and I streets NW,where people can park their own bikes. The lot will hold 700 bicycles.
“At the parking lot,cyclists can lock up their own bikes. At the corrals,Bikeshare members drop off the Bikeshare bikes and their rental stops. We will have staff on hand to make sure the stations don’t fill up,and they can accept as many bikes as show up,” John Lisle,a spokesman for DDOT,said in an email.
Lisle said that he expects fewer people to bike to the ceremony than four years ago,mainly because fewer people are expected to show up in general. But at the same time,“I wouldn’t be surprised if that parking lot fills up,” Lisle said.
The bike service has also gone digital. Users can download Spotcyle on their smartphones to keep track of bike availability and station locations.
Capital Bikeshare will be removing several stations on the inaugural parade route,beginning this week. Those stations will be put back in place by Jan. 24.
People who are planning to ride Metro should know that it will be operating from 4 a.m. on Inauguration Day until 2 a.m. the following day. Peak fares will apply from 4 a.m. until 9 p.m. The Smithsonian,Archives-Navy-Memorial-Penn Quarter and Mt. Vernon Square-7th Street-Convention Centers Metro stations will be closed.
Customers can purchase a special edition,pre-loaded SmartTrip card for $15,which will give people unlimited rides for the day. Metro buses will be running on a weekday schedule,but some routes will be detoured because of road use restrictions.
“We recommend that people definitely go on our website and check their bus information to make sure that their bus is going the full distance of where it is they’re seeking,” Caroline Lukas,a spokeswoman for Metro,said.
The D.C. Circulator bus system will not be providing service Monday. Normal routes and schedules will resume Tuesday.
Those who choose to walk should be aware of walking routes because areas near the Capitol and the parade route will be restricted.
This story has been updated to reflect that Capital Bikeshare was not in business in D.C. in 2009 and did not participate in inaugural day transportation.
Reach reporter Amy Slanchik at [email protected] or 202-326-9865. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.