Obama to arrive for inaugural via train - will pick up Joe in Delaware

Jake Turcotte

Barack Obama plans a leisurely train trip to Washington before starting a new job that ensures he will be whisked from place to place in the fastest possible way,

The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Monday that Mr. Obama and his family will board a train in Philadelphia bound for Washington on Saturday, January 17.

They will stop in Wilmington, Delaware to pick up Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his family.  (No, he's not traveling by helicopter -- although it would probably be a better story).

The group will then travel together, stopping in Baltimore, before arriving in Washington’s Union Station.  No word if Biden's new dog will travel with them on the train.

A trip honoring tradition

“As part of the most open and accessible inauguration in history, we hope to include as many Americans as possible who wish to participate, but can’t be in Washington,” Emmett Beliveau, the inaugural committee’s executive director, said in a statement.

The trip will include events along the way that Mr. Beliveau said would honor "the rich history and tradition of previous inaugural journeys."

With their Secret Service motorcades, Obama and Biden will have no problem getting around Washington once they arrive for the festivities surrounding the January 20 inauguration. The same can’t be said for members of the general public.

An overwhelmed transit system

Estimates of the number of those who will attend the inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president range from two to four million.  Even the low-end projection threatens to overwhelm the local transportation system.

“If millions of people are coming to the National Mall, Metro can’t handle everyone.  It is impossible,” Candace Smith, a spokesman for the capital’s subway system, told the Washington Post.

People should expect “long lines, long walks, and they need to make decisions about what they are willing to put up with,” Smith said.

Wanted: bus parking spaces

Meanwhile, Washington officials are saying they have found parking for only half the 10,000 charter buses expected to arrive in the city for the inaugural.

An already booked Blair House

Even President-elect Obama experienced the crowded conditions surrounding his swearing in.  Mr. Obama explored the possibility of moving into the presidential guest quarters across the street from the White House in early January so his daughters could start school on January 5.  But the family was told that Blair House was already booked with events and receptions and so would not be available for overnight use until January 15.

No word yet on where the Obama daughters will stay in the meantime.

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