Hill Talk: H Street Shuttle Gets New Funds

Posted December 8, 2009 at 4:13pm

After suspending service last Sunday because of a shortfall in funding, the popular H Street Shuttle is due to resume operations later in the month. According to Charles Allen, chief of staff for Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells (D), the shuttle will begin running again “no later than Dec. 21.—

“We got a call last night from the mayor’s staff confirming that they have identified the dollars,— Allen said in an interview on Tuesday.

The nonprofit H Street Business Cooperative manages the service, while U Street Parking operates the free shuttle. The shuttle route connects the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station with Minnesota Avenue Metro station via the burgeoning H Street Northeast commercial corridor and Benning Road.

Though a Metro station does not service the corridor, the H Street shuttle route does overlap with the route of the X2 Metrobus.

Yared Tesfaye, vice president and chief operating officer of U Street Parking, reported that company representatives met with the Mayor Adrian Fenty’s office Tuesday afternoon to discuss the logistics of resuming service.

The shuttle was initially funded by a District Department of Transportation grant and began operations in January.

That “was a grant for fiscal year 2009, and that was for a partial year for the shuttles. We have been working for the last several months to support the next year,— Allen said. But it wasn’t until Monday night that Fenty’s office found the funds in the DDOT budget to renew the service past fiscal 2009.

The shuttle has drawn some criticism for perceived waste in overlapping with Metrobus routes. Blogger Dave Stroup, founder of the blogs whyihatedc.blogspot.com and districtdaily.com, called the shuttle a “privileged people transit system— and a “yuppie people mover.—

“I think that people are very hesitant to ride on some— Metrobuses, Stroup said in an interview, referring to the X2. “My main issues with the shuttle are that it’s funded by the city, that it’s free and it doesn’t charge a fare. No other part of the city enjoys that preference.—

In response to questions about charging a fare to cover the budget shortfall, Allen noted that the profits wouldn’t outweigh the costs of installing a fare system and paying staff to account for it.

“We looked at this a little over a year ago, when they were getting ready to start the shuttle. It actually costs more money than you would take in to charge, say, 50 cents,— Allen said.