Charter Buses Surround Nation's Capital

Washington D.C. officials have reserved thousands of parking spaces for charter buses. The buses are parked in D.C. and nearby Virginia.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

This is Morning Edition from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. So many people are already arriving at the National Mall, you'd think the inauguration was now. It's not happening for almost six hours. It's a little bit after 6:00 in the morning in Washington, D.C.. And many more people are arriving from out of town on buses. They're converging on many places, including RFK Stadium, a few blocks east of the capital, which is where we found NPR's Frank Langfitt. Frank, what are you seeing?

FRANK LANGFITT: Well, tons of people coming in here. The buses got here, actually, at 3:00 and were circling the parking lot because no one was really - they were only supposed to open at 4:30. So they eventually got in, There are tons of buses here now, people streaming towards shuttle buses to take them down to the capital.

INSKEEP: And people are going to be in the cold for hours here, aren't they?

LANGFITT: Yeah, they are. They're very well dressed. I met a woman named Betty Jennings(ph), she was wearing this giant fake fur coat. She's 70 years old, retired teacher form Gainesville, and she actually took off at midnight Sunday from Gainesville, spent the night in Richmond, got here at about 2:30, and she's on a walker, but, you know, really, really engaged in this, really wants to be here.

She said she had met President-elect Obama back in Jacksonville during the campaign, and he had given her a kiss. And she said, you know, I could not let this pass without coming to Washington. She just - she never expected she'd see a day like today.

INSKEEP: You know, I don't mean to be pessimistic. I doubt if she's going to get a kiss from the president-elect today when you look out at the television images of the Mall. There's already thousands of people. She's not going to be very close. But I wonder if someone like that arriving from out of town doesn't care. It's not necessarily getting a close-up look at Barack Obama, it's that they're the story, that they're arriving here in Washington, D.C.

LANGFITT: It is, Steve, and I think you've really hit on something that's interesting. This - it's not a party, or it's not a big festival. People are here for history. And when you talk - when I was talking to Mrs. Jennings, she said, you know, it means - the election of President-elect Obama means that all our children will have a chance to succeed.

So they see this as an enormous moment. And even if it means, you know, freezing and being so far from the Capitol that you can just barely see figures, I think they feel that they just - they really need to see this and to experience it.

INSKEEP: OK, thanks very much. That's NPR's Frank Langfitt. He's at RFK Stadium, where people are arriving by bus for today's inauguration.

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