Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Northern Virginia residents may need Uber and Lyft as Metro service is compromised by accidents

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has ruled that ride-sharing services Lyft and Uber can continue operating before full regulations are adopted, NBC4-Washington News story here
The services would be important to northern Virginia residents on weekend late nights if Metro is compelled to stop late night service because of the consequences of the deadly smoke accident near L’Enfant Plaza on January 12.  Metro is examining its options, and says they could be implemented in the Fall, but they could come sooner if safety concerns get worse.  The NTSB is expected to present a major report to Metro today. 
Despite Metro shutdowns and single tracking for maintenance, safety related incidents continue to happen.  Metro has not been able to provide the 24x7 service comparable, say, to New York City, because there is no as much redundancy in the routes.  Dedicate bus lanes could provide major improvements during shutdowns. 
Taxi service has generally improved since DC required “ready for hire” signs. Despite the rules, not all late night drivers take credit cards in my experience.  Availability of rides late at night in the U-Street area seems to have improved in the second half of 2014. 
Riders should know that Lyft and Uber have two-way user and customer rating systems (“Bill Boushka” blog Jan. 31).
It seems as though libertarian solutions with less regulations may help consumers (and businesses in DC like bars and discos) the most. But with the complicated political climate associated with limited home rule, local businesses have trouble getting their act together in working with government in order to provide better customer service.  

Update: Later Feb. 11

The NTSB scolded Metro in a report considering the way the fans and ventilation work, and Congress will hold hearings starting Friday, Feb. 13.  The link, including the embedded PDF in Scribd of the report, is here

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