Mass Transit

Nationals' Pitcher Max Scherzer Thinks DC Metro Should Care About Supply and Demand

Maybe it should, but that's not how government works.

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SHAWN THEW/EPA/Newscom

More than 40,000 fans are expected to pack into Nationals Park on Thursday night for a winner-take-all playoff game between the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

When the game ends, though, many of those fans might find themselves stranded.

That's because the D.C. subway system closes at midnight during the week, and the WMTA, which runs mass transit in the nation's capital, says it will not extend operating hours to accommodate fans attending Thursday's Game 5 of the National League Division Series. First pitch is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. and the first four games in the series have taken an average of nearly four hours to play. That makes it likely that the final out of Thursday's game won't be recorded until near—or just past—closing time for the metro.

Max Scherzer, the Nationals' superstar pitcher and expected starter in Thursday's game, thinks the WTMA should extend its operating hours on Thursday. Anyone familiar with the D.C. metro will get a little chuckle out of his logic.

"God, I would hope to believe that playoff games here in D.C. would mean more than shutting down the lines for a couple hours," Scherzer said last week during an appearence on a local sports talk radio program. "I mean, isn't it a supply-and-demand issue? We have a supply of people that demand to use the line to go to the park. Why wouldn't you want to meet that?"

Scherzer gets paid to throw baseballs, not to analyze public policy, so give him a pass for failing to understand that concepts like "supply" and "demand" don't mean a whole lot to government bureacracies like the WMTA.

And the DC metro is the worst kind of bureaucracy. It's a toxic mix of unaccountable staff, broken escalators, burning tracks and misplaced spending priorities. All the problems are driving people away from using the subway, a trend the WMTA says they are trying to reverse.

That might seem like a reason to stay open an hour later on Thursday night for the chance to capture tens of thousands of potential riders leaving Nationals Park. Nope.

Were the DC subway a private business, Scherzer would probably be right. Alas, the DC metro doesn't have to turn a profit to continue to operate because it's going to get its funding from the taxpayers of Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., whether it's open at the conclusion of Thursday's game or not—in fact, it recently got an extra $1 billion annually because it's so awful.

Without a profit motive, the only thing that can get the metro to change policies is political pressure. That's not proving too effective in this case, despite Jack Evans, chairman of the WMTA board of directors, saying last week that it will look "foolish" if 15,000 people have to leave a Nationals playoff game early to catch the last train of the night.

It's just an embarrassment," he said, according to the Washington Post, which reports that Evans wants to keep the subway open late if the Nationals make the World Series (getting there would require winning Thursday and winning another series after that, which brings with it the potential of three more home games with 8 p.m. start times).

Other local officials in D.C. are mostly shrugging their shoulders. Mayor Muriel Bowser suggested that Nationals' fans should be "creative" about getting home from the game on Thursday.

Luckily for Nats' fans, there are other transportation networks in the D.C. area that do cater to supply and demand. Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft will be available after the game on Thursday, but expect to pay surge prices if you want a ride home—that's part of supply and demand too, after all.

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  1. Who wrote this piece that so heavily condescends to our nation’s athletes?

    1. Further proof I am a sentient Fist sock.

  2. Since the story involves sports, that eliminates ENB (she is a girl, you know), so my guess is Fisher.

    1. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the actual answer.

      1. I am not surprised by the author’s refusal to include alt text with the photo.

    2. How sexist do you think a guy who’s last name is “Broheim” is going to be?

  3. Well then he should lose his job and his house for being a racist or some other type of ist.

    And that is how logical thinking is rewarded in this fucked up shithole.

  4. Supply and demand is working just fine. Govt creates a shortage, private companies fill the demand with taxis.

    1. You forgot important steps:
      Government gives oligopoly to two or three taxi companies.
      Taxi companies underserve demand.
      Police clamp down on illegal and dangerous private ‘taxis’
      A new business model called ride-sharing is invented and implemented
      Police clamp down on it at behest of taxi companies because it’s dangerous and unregulated
      Ride-sharing survives because Millenials like it and it’s politically connected enough

  5. The government reserves the right to refuse service to anyone!

  6. Uber understands supply and demand.

    1. That’s why they’re illegal.

    2. Heavy Metal should sue them for illegally appropriating the umlauts.

  7. Other local officials in D.C. are mostly shrugging their shoulders. Mayor Muriel Bowser suggested that Nationals’ fans should be “creative” about getting home from the game on Thursday.

    Well, naturally. Government officials wouldn’t be caught dead riding the subway with the commoners except as an election campaign photo-op (“…see, I use mass transit just like you little people! How does this card thingy work?”). That’s our ruling class in a nutshell: a class of people who insist on making rules for everything but who are themselves exempt from said rules and the consequences of them.

  8. so give him a pass for failing to understand that concepts like “supply” and “demand” don’t mean a whole lot to government bureacracies like the WMTA. …..

    We have a supply of people that demand to use the line to go to the park.

    I’m not sure he understands the concepts themselves.

    1. Give him time. He’s lacking a supply of what he demands, so the incentives are all in place.

  9. Funny about the ‘creative’ part since it features in my comment.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if whatever ‘creative’ service or arrangements are made run afoul with some bull shit law?

    1. Since when have two people agreeing to terms without a mediator run afoul of a law?

      1. How long has prostitution been illegal?

        1. Prostitution doesn’t exist. Sex trafficking is very very illegal.

      2. Since the third oldest profession was invented.

  10. getting there would require winning Thursday

    As long as they have it in the bag by the last inning when their fans start walking out.

  11. The reprobate bureaucrats responsible for the Metro are answerable to nobody. Their positions are entirely riskless. There are no meaningful consequences for failures to deliver services. There are no penalties for the rampant delinquency public employees of their ilk are infamous for. Why would they make any accommodations for the preferences of the populace?

  12. That’s because the D.C. subway system closes at midnight during the week, and the WMTA, which runs mass transit in the nation’s capital, says it will not extend operating hours to accommodate fans attending Thursday’s Game 5 of the National League Division Series.

    Huh. We don’t have a real subway system, but our transit-managing organization thing does add trains and extend hours for such a thing.

    Maybe it helps that the trains are driverless?

    1. the last thing anyone in Canada would want is a Canadian driving a train. The controls get all covered in poutine.

    2. our transit-managing organization thing does add trains and extend hours for such a thing

      Yeah, this is SOP everywhere I’ve lived. DC seems to be uniquely awful in this regard.

  13. Ok, I’m boycotting the comments section until they give into my demands. Or until I get back from a beer run, whichever comes first.

  14. Isn’t DC’s hometown team the Clinton Campaign?

    1. Who pitches? Who catches? It’s a bit confusing.

        1. Yes it does. That’s why we need petroleum. Whale oil? Where can you get it anymore?

  15. Government ‘economic’ logic.

    When I first opened they gave me a permit for 60 kids. The law stipulates I need to have 60 sleep mats (very duh). Now. Of course, the law and theories don’t always match up with reality. Naturally, like any business, I had to work towards attaining 60 kids.

    So when the inspector came to make sure I followed the architectural codes they asked how many kids I had. At the time I had 47 kids and 54 mats. A surplus of 7. They gave me 30 days to get to 60 mats or else. When I made a mild attempt (and believe me it was half-hearted because I knew damn well what I was up against: Govt. ILLOGIC) to explain I buy as I go along (at the time I was managing cash flow differently) since it frees up money for other stuff, like you know books and food, the little smart-alec replied, ‘the permit is for 60 so you need 60 mats.’

    I didn’t run out to go buy them. Instead, I got my wife to lend me six mats from her school. When they came they counted the mats and left.

    Idiots. I take pleasure in having put one past them.

    1. You are safe since you didn’t post this in French and they don’t know about google translate.

      1. They do, but Google Translate is an American tool and the French are working fast on a homespun version. The problem is that it must provide a perfect French translation with all of the perfect diacritical marks and that mes amis, c’est unpossible.

        1. do you even unicode, broh?

          1. vous m?me unicode, Broh? [this is the translation of your interrogatory sentence. It didn’t even make it past the correct translation phase. Sure it utilizes diacritical marks but it can’t get them right unless it gets it all right in the first place.]

  16. The condescending attitude toward Max is unnecessary, Boehm. We all agree that Metro sucks ass.

    1. I don’t follow baseball at all, but I follow sports enough to know a few names and I’ve never heard of the guy so I’m not sure he’s really a “superstar”. But if he’s at least heard the term “supply and demand” it’s a good sign that he might appreciate he’s worth whatever amount of money he’s getting paid and not feel guilty about it the way so many high-dollar entertainers seem to do.

      That’s my theory of why so many entertainers are leftists – they don’t think they deserve the amounts of money they’re getting and figure everybody else must just get some random amount as well. They don’t understand that deserve’s got nothing to do with it. “Working hard” doesn’t get you anywhere if what you’re working hard at isn’t anything anybody’s willing to pay you money for and if tens of millions of people are willing to pay you a few bucks each to watch you throw a ball or sing a song or act in a movie, well, they want what they want and you’re one of the few people who can supply it. I can bust my ass digging a hole by hand in the Walmart parking lot and if Walmart doesn’t want a hole in their parking lot all it’s going to get me is arrested. They’re not going to care one bit how hard I worked, nor should they.

      1. He gets paid around $20M a year, and very much earns it. He threw two no-hitters last season, one of which was a perfect game through 8.2 innings. Cy Young contender this year.

  17. it will look “foolish” if 15,000 people have to leave a Nationals playoff game early to catch the last train of the night
    Wiedefeld is probably more worried that some of those fans could become the latest victims of Metrofail.

  18. Here in New York when the Isles made the playoffs, LIRR ran extra trains to Barclays once the playoffs started. It is supply and demand.

  19. I’m confused here.

    Is the DC Metro a business or a public service like the fire department?

    DC Metro is, like all public transport, *subsidized*. Each train loses money every minute its in operation. Money that has to be paid by taxpayers and most definitely not by the people using the Metro. Plus, they’re going to a game that’s already publicly subsidized. That stadium didn’t pay for itself and the team sure as fuck didn’t pay for it.

    Why shouldn’t people be demanding that the teams cover the subsidy? Why should the good people of the DC area who don’t give a fuck about the game pay out-of-pocket to cover the costs of those who want to go? Why shouldn’t the attendees pay the full costs themselves.

    This is not an example of government ‘being unresponsive’, government ‘not understanding supply and demand’, this is an example of government doing exactly what it should be doing in response to the reality of the funding situation.

    If this was a *business*, all those questions would have been self-evident right from the start and this article would never have been written.

    Look at the unseen.

    1. Metrorail has an estimated farebox recovery of 66% which is better than Metrobus at ~25%. I expect a crowded post-game train to have a higher recovery, but they wouldn’t be running a limited service between the stadium and key transit points. Keeping the whole system open could have some trains recovering in the single digits and the whole system below average. Why take the loss and interrupt needed repairs?

      1. That’s a key point – even if the keep it limited to service to ‘key transit points’ they’d likely do a lot of work just to break even in the end. Simply not cost effective – but then the whole Metro system is not cost effective to start with.

  20. I’d assume the union contract doesn’t allow for post-midnight weekday work.

    1. Union labor rates are always a major factor in decisions like this.
      The fact that ride-sharing can adapt and the subway cannot should give people pause, but probably won’t.

  21. But trust the surrounding PD’s running DUI check-points. I wonder will the DC city council whine if Uber raises it’s rates for then.

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