When An Early Morning Metro Ride Costs $22
It may have been the first time the Metro system opened extra early so riders could shop.
The Friday after Thanksgiving--Black Friday--was billed as a make or break day for retailers in this season of economic despair. And D.C. Council member Jim Graham (Ward 1), who serves on Metro's board, was eager to give the new DC USA shopping center in Columbia Heights a big boost for its first Christmas.
So Graham persuaded Metro to start the trains rolling at 4 a.m. that day, an hour earlier than usual. The cost of the early opening: $27,000.
Result: Grim. A mere 1,201 riders used the system in that one early hour. Do the math: That comes to $22.48 per passenger, though most of them got the ride at the bargain price of $1.35.
Who foots the rest of the bill? The District's taxpayers.
"Well, then, that was not nearly as successful as we thought it would be," Graham said when I broke it to him that his plan had flopped. He had a feeling the news wasn't going to be good: "The shopper turnout in Columbia Heights was not nearly up to expectations. This is another indicator that the economy is really doing poorly."
But Graham doesn't regret having done everything possible to maximize turnout for retailers and convenience for shoppers. "It could have turned out very different," he says.
Worth a try, for $27,000? Seems like a bit of a stretch to me. How many people head out to shop at 4 a.m. on any day, ever? What's your call?
Available beginning at noon today over at Raw Fisher Radio: A visit with two of the area's best hyperlocal bloggers, the Prince of Petworth, Dan Silverman; and the Silver Spring Penguin, Jennifer Deseo. Join us as we look inside the burgeoning world of online micronews in this time of media turmoil.)
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