Friday, March 17, 2006

The Valley's Bus Solution

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald highlights a new bus service for people who apparently don't mind getting up before the cows to start their commutes. A new commuter bus service from Woodstock in Shenandoah County, starting at 4:20 a.m., arrives in downtown D.C. at 7 a.m. The afternoon ride home leaves around 4 and gets back home at 6:30.

All this for a fixed monthly fee of $360, and federal employees can collect a $105 Metrochek monthly subsidy to cut their out-of-pocket costs. The local Valley Commuter Assistance Program is apparently going to guarantee a certain level of income for the route operators if the number of passengers drops below a certain number.

There was a similar commuter bus that ran from Winchester last year, but it was losing money and shut down. Here's an interesting detail - the driver of that failed route is also driving the new route, but this time, he's using his own bus. Now that's an entrepreneur.


At 3:09 PM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

Naw, an entrepreneur is someone who puts his own money at risk. With a guaranteed minimum income, there is no risk.

If it didn't work from Winchester, where is the marketing model that says it will work form Woodstock? Maybe people in Winchester have other job opportunities and don't need to travel as much, but it would seem to be harder to draw enough people from a smaller base.

Here is a case where you not only subsidize the highway, but the transport as well. Where does VCAP get its money? If it comes from other citizens that work in the valley, is the additional revenue the commuters bring home sufficient to justify the expense?

Some people who ride the bus also use it for their leisure time, but every day a 14 hour day? Whew. I'm a road supporter and all that, but some things even I don't understand. Still we shouldn't get too wrapped up on this, the average Virginia commuter is traveling less than thirty minutes, and that figure gets inflated by the outliers like this.

Commuting is one thing, insanity is something else.


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