Hi-tech inauguration tickets to help direct crowds

Dick Uliano, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Color-coded tickets, a first-ever inaugural mobile app and GPS technology will help direct the crowds at next week’s inaugural ceremony.

“When you wake up Monday morning and you have a ticket, you just bring your smart phone with you, click on to your ticket color and you’ll get detailed instructions about how to get exactly to your seat,” says Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

Senators and representatives are distributing the 250,000 tickets to the swearing- in ceremony on the west front of the Capitol.

The free tickets are a hot commodity and planners are hoping to discourage scalping.

“There are loads of people who want them,” Schumer says. “Congressional offices were bombarded with hundreds of thousands of requests for tickets.”

Schumer is asking online vendors including Craig’s List and ebay not to sell inaugural tickets. He says StubHub has promised not to sell them.

“Having a ticket to the inauguration is a privilege, it’s not something that should be used to make a profit,” he says.

The color-coded tickets also carry helpful information to make sure guests know exactly where they’re going. For example, “each ticket shows which Metro station you should use,” Schumer says.

Purple learning curve

Inaugural planners are eager to avoid snafus like one four years ago that left purple ticket holders stuck in the Third Street Tunnel, missing the entire ceremony.

To prevent a similar problem this year, the committee is offering its first-ever mobile app with GPS for smart phones. Users can click on the color of their ticket and, with GPS enabled on their phone, the app will provide the best route to the correct entry gate.

“We hope that this app will make every individual’s experience a little easier and should keep things moving,” Schumer says.

At the same time, the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which is in charge of the parade, balls and other events has also unveiled its first-ever mobile app. The app provides a full schedule of events and helps users find their way to official events.

Thousands of people were delayed at President Obama’s first swearing-in four years ago when they lined up at the wrong gate. Schumer says hundreds of volunteers will fan out through the crowds next week, checking tickets, to ensure that people don’t waste time in the wrong line.

“We’re learning from our mistakes,” Schumer says.

That includes the unfortunate purple ticket holders who were stranded in the Third Street Tunnel.

This year, the Third Street Tunnel will be closed. And, as if to erase the memory of that glitch, the purple ticket color has been eliminated.

“There are no purple tickets,” Schumer says.

Tickets for next week’s swearing-in are colored gold, green, orange, yellow and red.


Guidelines for ticket holders:

  • No public parking will be available on or near the Capitol grounds and ticket holders are encouraged to walk or take public transportation.
  • Guests should be prepared for dense crowds and should plan their route in advance.
  • All ticket holders must pass through a security screening. Many items are prohibited from Capitol Grounds including strollers, firearms, firecrackers, hand tools, backpacks, coolers, laser pointers, air horns, signs and posters, chairs and alcohol.
  • Plan to arrive early and dress for the weather. Gates open at 7 a.m. Guests not through the screening points by 11:30 a.m. may not be allowed to enter.
  • Ticket holders must leave the lawn when the ceremony ends. Signs will direct guests back to the closet Metro station.
  • Guests are encouraged to bring the map, guidelines and ticket with them to the ceremony.
  • For updates on Inauguration Day, follow @jccic2013 and @secretservice or use hashtage #inaug2013 on Twitter or sign up for emergency alerts by texting “INAUGURATION” to 888777.

For more information and for ticket-specific directions, visit the committee’s website inaugural.senate.gov.

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(Copyright 2013 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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