City and Catholic leaders this week heralded Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia as a success while acknowledging complaints from pilgrims who got stuck in long security lines and businesses that saw underwhelming demand.
The pope’s trip last weekend for the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families spurred intense traffic and security restrictions. Concrete and steel barricades lined downtown streets, and some people reported waiting in lines at metal detectors for more than five hours. Francis also made stops in Washington, D.C., and New York City.
Organizers in Philadelphia said they expected at least 1 million people for Sunday’s Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Neither they nor the city provided a final count Monday.
The pope’s visit to Philadelphia, by the numbers:
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▪ Cost: $45 million was the fundraising goal for the organizers of the World Meeting of Families conference. Of that, $12 million will go to the city for policing, traffic and crowd control, fire and emergency medical response, emergency management, streets and sanitation. The state spent about $9 million in federal funding on National Guard personnel. The Secret Service didn’t break out its costs. The agency’s annual budget for national special security events such as this is $4.5 million.
▪ Hotel rooms: About 9,900 of downtown’s 11,200 rooms were booked.
▪ Train ridership: 62,946 (28,575 Saturday and 34,371 Sunday) on SEPTA regional rail compared with 65,000 people heading into the city on an average weekday. The agency had sold 123,000 of 328,000 available passes; 51,922 (about 23,000 on Saturday, 29,000 on Sunday) on the PATCO High Speed Line from southern New Jersey compared with 12,000 riders on an average Saturday. PATCO sold about 17,000 of 75,000 weekend passes while also accepting regular passes.
▪ Subway home: 40,000 passengers rode SEPTA’s Broad Street line to South Philadelphia after Sunday’s Mass, compared to about 125,000 for all trips on the line on an average weekday.
▪ Bike sharing: More than 13,000 trips on the city’s Indego service (2,900 Friday, 4,900 Saturday and 5,300 Sunday). Usual ridership over those three days of the week is about 6,000.
▪ No driving or parking: 25 miles of highways closed in the Philadelphia area; vehicles restricted from entering a 4.7-square mile area of the city; 591 vehicles towed out of the vehicle-free zone.
▪ Law enforcement: 71 local, state and federal agencies; 300 pieces of heavy equipment; more than 6,000 National Guard soldiers and thousands of Philadelphia police officers and firefighters on duty.
▪ Medical response: 423 cases treated at 10 first-aid stations, 129 of them resulted in hospitalization; 100 ambulances and more than 1,000 emergency medical personnel brought in; lower-than-average volume at city emergency rooms.
▪ Event-related arrests: Three, including “one complete idiot” who allegedly tried bringing a large bag of illegal drugs through a security checkpoint, Mayor Michael Nutter said.
▪ Food and drink: 69,000 meals served to first responders; 250,000 bottles of water given out to pilgrims by Philadelphia-area convenience store chain Wawa.
▪ Cheesesteaks eaten by Pope Francis: 0. Archbishop Charles Chaput (a Kansas native) says the pontiff’s room was stocked with other Philadelphia treats, but it’s unclear if he ate them.
▪ Babies kissed: More than a dozen, including one dressed like Pope Francis.