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A Ride to Catch the Acela: Day 25

The last few days I’ve been on a business trip on Washington DC. Once I got to DC I was summoned back to a client meeting in New York for one day, and then I had to take the train back to DC that same day.

After my meeting was done, I took a bike from 56th and 6th…a man was returning his bike and this woman literally ran past me and grabbed it. if there weren’t three other bikes I’d have been a little pissed. Amazing how Citi Bike’s deficiencies are inadvertently doing some social engineering for the worse–they’re creating a subculture of really, really rude people.

rude citibike woman

But I had a remarkably good ride home, at right at the peak of rush hour, going crossdown on 56th and the downtown on 9th. I made it to Penn Station in plenty of time to catch the train back to DC.

In DC I got to see “Capital Bike Share”. It was like looking at a bizarro version of Citi Bike–because Alta makes the bikes, the docks and bikes are exactly the same as in New York, the only difference being that they’re bright red instead of bright blue.

I contemplated whether I should take Citi Bike around–after all, one taxi ride from Union Station to my hotel was about $8, while a three day pass for unlimited use of Capital Bikeshare was only $15.

I did the math and assuming I averaged two rides a day, that’d end up costing me (or rather, the client) about $2.50 a ride. Not bad.

That is, until I compared the price to the DC Metro. To get to my client’s location was only $2.15 a ride, $1.75 if not during rush hour.

Now it’s been years since I’ve ridden the DC Metro, but I was shocked, absolutely shocked, at how much better it is than the MTA in New York. The seats are padded, and most of the time you can not just get a seat, but get one to yourself. There’s not the unmistakable smell of urine everywhere. All the stations all tell you exactly what time the trains are arriving. The trains are quiet. You can get a cell signal at all the stations, and even during many of the rides. Even late at night the stations are well lit and filled with people so you feel safe (unless you’re Zoe Barnes). Their version of the Metrocard, the SmarTrip card, works by “tapping” vs. swiping, whether you’re entering and exiting the station or refilling your card. The new Silver Line just launched (I have the commemorative SmarTrip Card to prove it) and the cars are clean, quiet, and simply a joy to ride. And to get from Union Station to my hotel cost about $7 less and took about 5 minutes quicker than taking a taxi.

I’ve been on a lot of subway systems these past few months. Taiwan gets an A+. Japan gets an A. DC gets a B+. New York gets an F—————-. Back in 1914 it was the bee’s knees, but 100 years later it’s like the third world of subway systems. And ironically, the MTA is collecting a maddening $2.50 a ride and always talking about jacking it up.

So needless to say, I ended up taking the Metro all over instead of the Capital Bikeshare. A good thing too, because when I got to my client’s location, I walked up to the Bikeshare rack and saw a famliar site:

foggy bottom station full

I would have had to bike four blocks for the chance of finding an empty rack, so the bulk of the week was taking the Metro. But I finally got to try out Capital Bikeshare for myself a few days later.

Cost per ride: $95/36=$2.64
Aggravation level: 2 of 10
Stress level: 2 of 10

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