Monday, February 14, 2011

DC Metro again ponders ending late weekend hours

This sounds like Old Hat, but the Washington DC Metro is again considering terminating after midnight service on weekends, not so much as a budget measure (with all the fare hikes) but as a way to add more time for track maintenance and reduce other outages, it says. The issue came up at a Feb. 11 board meeting. 

Night-oriented businesses in Washington DC are fuming, because parking is difficult in many areas, like Georgetown and Dupont Circle, and cabs have been harder to get in recent months.  And there are surprisingly few 24-hour commercial garages in DC.  If the Metro closes at late night, would property owners find a market incentive to keep garages open?

Metro didn’t actually start late night service until 1999, and says relatively few riders use it, mostly before 1 AM.  But the Orange Line into Arlington is usually packed even at 2 AM Sunday morning according to my experience. But stations beyond areas with a lot of entertainment may indeed have little late traffic.

Here’s the Washington Post’s blog article on it this morning. Nobody mentions that it’s a good idea to give people an alternative to driving.  Not everyone gets by on one beer a week (that’s about my level of “C2H5OH” consumption).

It's not clear when late night service would end, maybe summer?

On top of this, the House GOP wants to cut federal aid to the DC Metro by $150 million. That's bound to reinforce the concern with the "night owl service" issue. 

New York may have its transit strikes, but it never seems to have line closures, and it runs 24x7 (just local service only on some lines at night).  Likewise, London, Paris, Madrid, etc. don’t seem to have a problem with keeping up.  World class cities can keep their subways and transit running 24 x 7.  Even Bilbao, Spain has a good metro.

In the US, “cosmopolitan” but more spread-out large cities like Dallas have relatively little rail transit (Dallas does have light rail, as does Charlotte) but generally have much more reasonably priced or free parking, and “businesses” tend to be located in areas of much less expensive land values, so they have room for parking.

Here’s the “Parking Encyclopedia” entry for Washington DC.

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