AVOID WEEKEND METRO FAILS WITH NEW BETHESDA TO DC NIGHTLIFE SHUTTLE
Are you sick and tired of using the Metro Red Line on weekend nights? Delays, single-tracking, breakdowns, and - my personal favorite - total closure of the Bethesda Metro station - even on a holiday weekend?
There's a new option.
The DC Hopper, a "nightlife shuttle," launched in Bethesda this past weekend.
You can board the Hopper at the corner of Norfolk and St. Elmo Avenues, across from Hanaro. Just check the schedule, go to the Hopper stop, pay by credit card (or even with your phone - they accept Square payments!), and even while they're processing your credit card, you're already on your way into DC.
The Hopper will take you to - and bring you back from - Georgetown (1218 Wisconsin Avenue NW) and Dupont Circle (18th Street and Connecticut Avenue NW).
But wait, there's more!
You'll also get a wristband that entitles you to VIP line access and discounted drinks, among other perks. Participating clubs include Modern, Dirty Bar and Third Edition.
This service is being specifically marketed as an alternative to the poor-performing Metro system, just as private car service Uber has offered a high-quality alternative to taxis.
We know Metro is a public system. But taxis are so over-regulated by local governments, that they have essentially become public transportation, as well. What Uber has started, is a textbook demonstration of the power of free markets and competition.
You provide a terrible service? Well, guess what? I don't have to use your service! This other guy is going to provide a better product, and that's who is going to get my money.
Is there any surprise that some on the DC Council want to stop Uber?
It makes you wonder about the future of transportation. I think Metro was great, and could be great again with the right leadership at WMATA and regionally.
But to keep making the public pay more for service and quality that consistently gets worse - we can't go on like this.
Services like DC Hopper and Uber suggest that, unless public agencies and elected officials clean up their act soon, we might witness a revolution in private transportation. Paper card? Smart card? Who needs a card, when your smartphone summons and pays for the whole thing!
This is a positive development, and ultimately, government will have to compete or give up in the transportation marketplace.