Hospital Rooms, VIP Access or Suburban Parking: Which Will Be Scarcest for Pope’s Visit?

Officials are starting to worry about scarcity of, well, everything when Pope Francis comes to Philly.


Pope Francis is expected to bring a lot of people to town when he visits in September, which means there might be a shortage of, well, everything.

Two things that spring to mind today? VIP access and hospital rooms — and more specifically, rooms for the families of hospital patients.

• At NewsWorks, Dave Davies highlights concerns about the former, talking to Congressman Bob Brady about how to get special access to papal events during the visit.

Short answer: Nobody really knows anything yet But Brady is already keeping a list of favor-seekers.

“A couple of our Catholic ward leaders have asked, and I said, ‘I don’t know yet,’ but I will talk to the mayor,” Brady said. “In fact, I’ve already talked to the mayor, and they’re not settled [on their plans] yet, they don’t have the logistics down yet.”

But, Brady said: “I got a little mini-list, and people keep calling me. I just put their name there, and you know, if they ask and I have it, I give it to them.”

• The folks at Philadelphia Business Journal highlight a problem with hospitals: With hotel rooms in the region booked solid for visitors, it will be near-impossible for family members of hospitalized patients to find places to stay. Officials are looking for up to 50 host families within an hour of Philadelphia to provide alternative lodging.

“All hotels within 100 miles of the city are fully booked for the Pope’s visit,” Mike Aichenbaum, executive director of Hosts for Hospitals, told the Journal. “Unless we as a community do something, an unbelievable number of patient-families will have nowhere to stay.”

• One thing to expect a lot of: Cars. NewsWorks reports that suburban leaders are expecting their towns to become virtual parking lots, with visitors parking their vehicles near SEPTA stations on the outskirts and riding rails into the city proper. “Levittown Now reports Tullytown in Bucks County is expecting 3,500 vehicles to flood the borough of only 1,900 in order to use the train station,” the station reports.

“My biggest tip,” one official said, “is to allow plenty of extra time in your travels.”

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