A look at what's going on in Trinidad, on H Street, and in the larger area north of Capitol Hill.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Bad News on the Shuttle

I just got the following:

December 4, 2009

For Immediate Release


Lack of Funds Forces Popular H Street Shuttle to Discontinue

The very popular H Street Shuttle which carries arts, food and entertainment patrons to and from trendy H Street NE and the Atlas District is forced to stop operations due to a lack of continued funding from the District. Sunday, December 6, 2009 will be the last shuttle run unless the money required to operate can be secured.
“The shuttle has made a definite impact on our business. We will immediately notice its significance when it's gone,” said Tony Tomelden, owner of one of H Street's busiest establishments, The Pug. “With the holiday season coming up, losing the shuttle will have major repercussions. Without the shuttle we are really isolated,” said Tomelden.
The H Street Shuttle provides free transportation to the newly bustling H Street Corridor by linking the Chinatown and Minnesota Avenue Metros. In anticipation of the trolley system being installed as part of the Great Streets Program, and in an effort to make the corridor easily accessible in a manner other than the often crowded X2 Bus, the shuttle has been a safe and popular mode of transportation not only for patrons to H Street's music, arts, bar and food patrons, but for the many employees of those establishments as well as many residents of the H Street NE neighborhood. Since its inception, ridership has been in the tens of thousands, and trends show that use continues to grow.
Managed by a group of business owners and managers via the H Street Business Cooperative and operated by local business U Street Parking and Transportation, the shuttle program is funded through a grant from the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT). This grant was designed to provide the funds necessary to operate the service during the Great Streets Program construction period, initially anticipated to be three years. The shuttle has only operated since January 2009. The H Street Business Cooperative was told by District officials in November that DDOT will not continue the funding, and since then, have been working with Ward 6 council offices to find new funding.
The H Street Business Cooperative and Atlas District business, such as the Rock and Roll Hotel, the H Street Country Club, the Atlas Performing Arts Center, SOVA, the Argonaut Tavern, the Martini Lounge, Granville Moore's, The Pug, Sticky Rice and many others, hopes that the discontinuation in service is only temporary, but currently, the source of new funding has not been identified.
“This is really very unfortunate,” Atlas Performing Arts Center Communications Director Jen DeMayo said. “There was a real sense of synergy between the District, the businesses and the H Street community that I hope continues. The shuttle was a real testament to that synergy.”

WHO TO CONTACT:

Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells' office (202-724-8072)& At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown 202-724-8174. Live in Ward 5 (Harry Thomas 202-724-8028, or 7 (Yvette Alexander 202-724-8068)? Both are touched by the shuttle. You too can contact your Councilmember. Any DC resident can contact the remaining At-Large Councilmembers (David Catania 202-724-7772, Phil Mendelson 202-724-8064, and Michael Brown 202-724-8105.

Chairman Vincent Gray is also fair game for all. 202-724-8032.

Some of those are just phone numbers, and not links because I'm working off a slow internet connection.

+++++++++++++++++++
UPDATE
+++++++++++++++++++
Here are two more names:
Call and email the DDOT Director (Gabe Klein; gabe.klein@dc.gov) and Dep. Mayor of DMPED (Valerie Santos; valerie.santos@dc.gov).

++++++++++++++++++++++
UPDATE
++++++++++++++++++++++

NBC reports
DCist reports

43 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

*cries*

Dec 4, 2009, 12:26:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dang, I know a bunch of people from the neighborhood including me wrote in expressing support for the shuttle but guess it wasn't enough. Is there a way to advocate for a limited stop Circulator route for the area?

Dec 4, 2009, 1:14:00 PM

 
Blogger Simone said...

To tell the truth, I am not sad to see the shuttle go. I think our time and tax dollars would be much better spent working to improve the metro service that we already have going down H Street rather than creating a new one. The shuttle just seemed like an unnecessary duplication of efforts. In New York, some city buses running the same route make limited stops. For example, if this was enacted in DC, we would have an X2-Limited Bus. That seems like a much more efficient and sustainable alternative to creating a whole new service.

Dec 4, 2009, 1:28:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still don't know why this is required, when you've got the X2 running all hours of the day. And I know that someone is going pipe up with "but the X2 is scary!!!!!!". Yes, hipster ****, it's a city bus, so instead of sinking money into a shuttle bus for the PYTs coming from Gtown and Dupont, and having it fail (no surprise there), why aren't we taking this money and energy to WMATA and getting the damn bus system working better?

Could we be anymore self centered?

Dec 4, 2009, 1:29:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate there are people afraid to ride the X2, and I agree WMATA should improve service on the route. However, I ride the X2 to work every day and have been reporting issues with the service to Metro consistently, and things have not improved at all. They do plan to roll out express service, but not for two years.

While they work to get their act together, I will take as many options as I can to get home, even if they are designed for "PYTs", whatever that means.

Dec 4, 2009, 1:44:00 PM

 
Blogger DCJaded said...

umm, i think the impt part is that it was *FREE*. Transfers suck. alot of the people coming to H were coming from petworth, so you have to pay even more to take the bus. Alot of people will just say screw it and stay in columbia heights or U stret.

Dec 4, 2009, 2:06:00 PM

 
Anonymous Derek said...

What was the bus load of the shuttle? I recall hearing that it ran empty most of the time and I had seen it swiz past the 5th street stop several times. Which was one of the limited scheduled stops. I never got around to riding the shuttle, but had always wondered how much it was used.

Dec 4, 2009, 2:12:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I find the B2 "scary" just way over crowded, and never on time. It wouldn't be so bad, if you could count on one coming in another 5-10 minutes, but you can't. There will three coming in thirty minutes.

Dec 4, 2009, 2:58:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 1:29 -- So I guess it's "hipster" to not want to get puked on. Good to know.

"Could we be any more self-centered?" When you're trying to create a successful, vibrant entertainment district out of effectively nothing, you do whatever it takes to work. If the District will help fund shuttles, yay. You think it's unnecessary, because the "hipsters" can ride the bus? You think it's absurd if they won't ride the bus? Those are utterly irrelevant thoughts when the issue is getting people to come to the establishments on H.

It seems to you like the shuttle is unnecessary, and thus to be opposed on principle? I hope that principle keeps you warm at night as we go back to the H Street of 10 years ago.

Dec 4, 2009, 5:29:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't the street car will fill the void left by the shuttle.


(JUST JOKING!)

Dec 4, 2009, 6:09:00 PM

 
Anonymous poo poo got bizness sense! said...

i never used it. believe me, the folks (yes, that includes 'hipsters') that frequent the atlas district either walk, drive, or use taxis for the most part. the folks that use the bus don't spend much anyway, so ....

no big loss here.

Dec 4, 2009, 8:43:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly another indication that the neighborhood is just too damn expensive. Metro workers are priced out forever now, and they're jealous! They're taking it out on the shuttle. Well I'm off to HSCC... Jeeves, fetch the car.

Dec 4, 2009, 10:35:00 PM

 
Blogger Robby said...

I guess I never really understood the need for the shuttle bus. I thought perhaps a DC Circulator route that would amble down H then be able to make a turn southward down Maryland Ave to turn on 8th, to head to the navy yard area. Having been a X2 rider, it is very crowded at peak times, there's the X8 which will take you very close, but times are limited. The D4 & D8 parallel H on K until 12th, they run frequently and pretty late (about midnight). D8 actually is on H (Save for detour), then it turns on K at 6th.

There really needs to be a route dedicated to H, the way one was dedicated between U and Adams Morgan, but, with metro's cuts neither that or a circulator reroute will prob be possible. Just my opinion.

-Robby

Dec 5, 2009, 8:46:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poo: projection aside, the fact that you never used it does not mean no one else did. Contrary to your assertions, the people who actually do run businesses on H seem to think they'll miss it when it's gone. But I'm sure you know what's going on with their businesses far better than they do.

Dec 5, 2009, 11:17:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was a nice amenity for a neighborhood that has tradionally gotten very little in the way of services from the city. There is a reason that old timers say that NE stands for "Never exists". Has Tommy Wells done a damn thing for H street, other than give tax breaks to big time developers?

Dec 5, 2009, 3:19:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish this overwhelming response to H Street Transportation issues was apparent via actual bodies present at the six public meetings (at Sherwood Rec Center and the Marshall Heights Community Center from May-November 2009) held by DDOT to discuss plans to improve the Metrobus X Routes Service.

I was one of less than 10 residents/riders who participated in the series of meetings - which I might add - were very informative.

DDOT promoted the meetings on local blogs (including frozen), with ANC, and also posted actual hanging meeting notices on all of the X Route buses leading up to each meeting.

I have never been on the H Street Shuttle because I usually walk, drive or take the X2. I always thought the H Street Shuttle wasn't for locals anyway, but for suburbanites, who, no matter how you package it, aint gettin' on a bus.

Since 2007 DDOT has enhanced existing bus service on an annual basis on the 70's, 30's, and S9 routes after conducting a series of meetings with residents and business owners in the neighborhoods served by these routes.

Having been a rider on the X2 for over a decade and a bus rider for even longer, I want to give it a chance to get better. I mean, just look at the S9 and the 70???

Thanks for lettin' me vent,
Trinidad Transportation Foamer

Dec 5, 2009, 10:45:00 PM

 
Anonymous el jefe said...

I'm ok with the shuttle service ending. I think it served its purpose well in getting folks here in the early days but now that H street has critical mass, people will come regardless of whether that additional option is there.

As an occasional x2 rider, I think that more non-scary people riding the bus makes it less scary so we should all do our part and use it when practicable. The complaints about reliability are legitimate, but I find the next bus app/function to be very reliable. Just check it on your phone before you head to the stop and you'll know at what 5 minute window in the next half hour all three buses will be arriving. Then you can get on the third bus in the bunch and avoid the overcrowding issue too.

Dec 6, 2009, 8:45:00 AM

 
Anonymous Poo poo really knows bizness said...

Anon 11:17...

U r right. I may not be as savvy as the business owners on H, but I have rehabbed a bldg., and opened a very successful bar in Watford (England).... So I'm not one of these arses that speak out of said orifice. But kudos to you for supporting .... Whatever you think you support.

Dec 6, 2009, 10:04:00 AM

 
Blogger Richard Layman said...

wrt "very little services from the city" the H St. neighborhood has actually received more than $100MM of federal and city investment through the urban renewal plan, plus a portion of the $120MM spent on the NY Ave. station, plus the more than $30MM on the streetscape, plus the eventually more than $50MM on the streetcar.

That seems like pretty significant investment to me. And we could argue that the urban renewal plan worked, since most everything in it was built. Which is pretty rare for a vision plan.

WRT the original investment of $100MM+ (Hechinger Mall, Delta Towers, Quadrangle apts., Wylie Court, H St. Connection, Auto Zone, 2 office buildings on the 600 block, blocks of new rowhouses on 10th St. (north and south of H) and 8th St./G St., Capitol Towers, the bridge over the railyard, all the monies given to the Children's Museum, + the 20 year lease of the office buildings for DHS and DOES, (and arguably some portion of the money spent rehabilitating Union Station was supposed to contribute to neighborhood improvement) the interesting question is why didn't these investments substantively improve the neighborhood and especially the commercial district.

Trying to figure out the answer to that question is what spurred my involvement in H St. issues originally, and citywide issues and planning generally.

Dec 6, 2009, 6:18:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who lives withing earshot of H Street, I think having another bus, even a small one, is not necessary. The X-2 runs frequently even on the weekends, I can see it from my window as I write this. Take the X-2 and pay for your transportation! If it is a problem of not being able to afford it then how do you afford your drinks?

3rd and H

Dec 6, 2009, 7:42:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard,
Do you really think that investment toward the New York metro station, and Union Station should count as investment toward H street? If so, maybe you should spend a little more time on economic and urban geography.
You also know as well, that much of the block grant money that went to the H street CDC, did not get spend on H street development, but to other areas of the city. Much of the H street CDC corruption is due to the long history of the City Council and Mayor not being interested in the NE area. As long as the natives aren't burning the place down, it cool.

Dec 6, 2009, 8:04:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All must kneel before Poo Poo. He has explained in no uncertain terms how worldly and sophisticated he is.

Now then: How is your bank account looking, Poo? Five figures yet? An how about your education level? Any advanced degrees to speak of?

Dec 6, 2009, 8:57:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon @ 8:04 doesn't seem to know that the rear of union station is ON h street. and the new york ave metro is just four blocks away. talk about not knowing geography...

Dec 6, 2009, 9:53:00 PM

 
Anonymous Poo poo's tired of goobers said...

Anon 8:57

not that I care to pander to your insecurities, but yeah, I have two graduate degrees. For you to ask about finances is really funny. So funny that I'd love to buy your bus fare to a bar on H, since the shuttle is kaput.

Seriously, you're a goober and a half. I'd feel sorry for you, but I'll settle for being happy that you're "not in my backyard".

You? Ew.

Dec 6, 2009, 10:34:00 PM

 
Anonymous Poo poo's tired of goobers said...

Anon 8:57

not that I care to pander to your insecurities, but yeah, I have two graduate degrees. For you to ask about finances is really funny. So funny that I'd love to buy your bus fare to a bar on H, since the shuttle is kaput.

Seriously, you're a goober and a half. I'd feel sorry for you, but I'll settle for being happy that you're "not in my backyard".

You? Ew.

Dec 6, 2009, 10:37:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Union Station PARKING LOT has ramps onto the H Street bridge, this does not make Union Station Station on H street. There are physical as well as psychological barriers between Union Station and H street. That's what urban geography is really about.

Dec 7, 2009, 4:37:00 AM

 
Blogger Hillman said...

Anonymous 3:19:

Tommy Wells has fought pretty hard to get things for H Street. He's been instrumental in fighting for the streetscape improvements, the trolley, etc.

If you are going to attack someone personally like that at least have the courage to not post anonymously, so we'll know to put at least a screen name to an agenda.

Dec 7, 2009, 9:06:00 AM

 
Blogger Hillman said...

Richard Layman has a point - there has been a lot of $$ sunk into H Street and the surrounding areas in recent years.

Also, haven't several very expensive rec centers been rehabbed and expanded in the area recently?

Plus, of course, if you want to count the large amounts of money put into Section 8 and public housing complexes in the area every year. That's got to run into the tens of millions.

I'd even add the Home Depot / Giant project north of H Street, as that took a bunch of tax dollars, and those are services for the greater area, including H.

And yes the NY Ave Metro and surrounding infrastructure most certainly benefits the great H Street area.

I'd argue that money use is actually counter-productive, since we administer it with no thought to actually improving the neighborhood, public safety, issues, etc.

But it's still money spent, albeit stupidly.

And in years past a good chunk of change was sunk into the H St CDC and such. Of course, much of that was wasted, embezzled, etc.. But that's not to say it wasn't there to begin with.

Heck, even upkeep of the Arboretum, at a kajillion federal dollars a year, benefits the H Street area.

Dec 7, 2009, 9:12:00 AM

 
Anonymous plant lover said...

hillman,

how did the arboreum get thrown into this? you aren't opposed to the arboreum, are you?

Dec 7, 2009, 10:06:00 AM

 
Anonymous plant lover said...

hillman,

how did the arboreum get thrown into this? you aren't opposed to the arboreum, are you?

Dec 7, 2009, 10:07:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anon 11:17, not Anon 8:57 said...

Poo -- but again, snarky comments from you aside, the business owners on H do believe that their business will be negatively affected to a significant degree. You apparently disagree with them. I would think they know something about how their customers are getting there; can you substantiate your reasons for thinking they *don't* know much about how their customers are coming to them? Thanks in advance.

Dec 7, 2009, 10:42:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hillman -- can you elaborate on how the NY Avenue Metro station benefits H Street, preferably using concrete examples? Are there significant numbers of people taking the Metro to NY Avenue and then walking down to Sidamo?

Thanks.

Dec 7, 2009, 10:47:00 AM

 
Anonymous Jen said...

I just wanted to address of few things mentioned here.
One, Tommy Wells' involvement on H. Tommy's office was the driving force behind the shuttle initially. They have been working very hard to have the funding reinstated and it still may be. While I know are other things he has done to try and improve H St. I'm only addressing the shuttle here.

The business owners on H were really terrified about what would happen to their fledgling operations when the long anticipated Streetscape project began. We spoke with folks on P Street NW, in Dupont Circle and learned from their experiences during the Streetscape project there. Businesses lost revenue and some closed. And we are talking Dupont Circle near the Metro in a well established neighborhood with plenty of foot traffic and tourists.
So here on H we have a neighborhood with no Metro close by, no significant foot traffic and an area that is still off the radar for a lot of people.

The new businesses while being very much a part of this community must also attract folks from outside the neighborhood to survive so yes that sometimes means suburbanites and maybe some Tenlytown ladies who like musicals.
The shuttle was introduced as a temporary measure, a way to bring people down here easily during construction. The idea being that when the trolley is up and running the shuttle will cease operations.

So while yes it appears that the shuttle is there for people who won't take the bus it is really for these new businesses. People who have invested time, money, passion and energy into this neighborhood.

The shuttle not only brought in the hipsters to the Rock and Roll Hotel, it also brought audiences to shows at the Atlas and the H Street Playhouse. And kept some cars off the residential streets.

I am hoping that we will have good news about the shuttle within the week. Thanks to everyone who wrote the Deputy mayor's office in support of the Shuttle!

Jen DeMayo,
Atlas Performing Arts Center

Dec 7, 2009, 11:32:00 AM

 
Blogger Hillman said...

No, I'm not opposed to the Arboreum. In fact, I really like it. I was citing it as an example of a neighborhood amenity that is paid for primarily with someone else's tax dollars.

Dec 7, 2009, 11:53:00 AM

 
Blogger Hillman said...

The NY Ave metro helps by creating a huge reason for people to move in and stabilize the neighborhood around it.

True, it's a bit of a hike from NY Ave Metro to H Street, but it's certainly doable, particularly for a lot of city dwellers.

But more importantly the metro there creates incentive for people to move into the area, and the additional businesses that have sprung up around it are certainly a neighborhood amenity.

An amenity or infrastruture doesn't have to be right on H Street for it to be a neighborhood benefit.

It's not all about just the bars and restaurants on H. It's about creating a better neighborhood all around.

Dec 7, 2009, 11:57:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live near the east end of H Street, the end of H closest to the Arboretum. The R Street NE entrance to the Arboretum is 1.8 miles from my front door, according to Google Maps. That seems a little absurd to call "in the neighborhood." It's certainly a lot closer than Rock Creek Park; but never in a million years would I call it part of the neighborhood. If that's close enough to be in the neighborhood, then parts of Chinatown are in the neighborhood.

Dec 7, 2009, 12:04:00 PM

 
Blogger Charles said...

Didn't some/many of the new businesses on H Street receive some kind of property tax abatement?

Seems to me like there has been a lot of investment and effort by the city to revive the area.

Dec 7, 2009, 1:38:00 PM

 
Blogger Hillman said...

Anonymous 12:04:

Just because you don't go to the Aboreum doesn't mean others in the neighborhood don't.

Dec 7, 2009, 3:00:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anon 12:04 said...

Hillman -- Wilfully misconstruing people, how disappointing. I go to the Arboretum now and then. I also eat at Matchbox sometimes -- is that a neigborhood restaurant? The National Arboretum is a wonderful place; but calling it a "neighborhood amenity" is silly.

Dec 7, 2009, 8:07:00 PM

 
Blogger Hillman said...

Anon:

My apologies. I didn't mean to diss your visiting frequency or your love of all things green.

Could we possibly stop whatever this idiotic pissing contest this is and actually get back on topic?

Dec 7, 2009, 8:20:00 PM

 
Blogger Richard Layman said...

The development of the NY Ave. metro led to a repositioning of the value of the neighborhood north of H Street, particularly a change in the willingness of people with money to live north of H Street.

Now you have whiteys pushing baby carriages on the 500 block of M Street NE, when I remember the 30 people murdered over 18 months in that area back in the late 1980s during the peak of the crack epidemic. I don't imagine anonymous was around then...the

It also led to the revaluing of residential properties north of H Street (in the pie) to the tune of about $350 million. Starting after the announcement, and peaking in maybe 2007. (It's dropped some. So now maybe only $300MM, or a little less. In 1988 average sized rowhouses sold for $95K. In 2000, maybe $125K. In 2005, the same house would sell for more than $300K.)

And it contributed significantly to the redevelopment of property (although this will take longer because of the recession) as multiunit buildings between the railyard and 3rd St.

The total of multiunit housing value will be worth about $2 billion when all is said and done. But not all of it has to do with the NY Ave. station. Projects like Cohen's were theoretically on the books beforehand, but were moving nowhere before the announcement of the station. I can't say how much the Abdo Dev. was influenced by the NY Ave. station. It surely contributed, but so did the proximity to Union Station, as well as discussions about air rights over the railyard and the Dreyfus project(s).

SO I think I understand urban geography pretty good. Or at least, I was there when these changes happened, and was observant enough to notice.

Dec 7, 2009, 9:47:00 PM

 
Blogger Richard Layman said...

WRT anonymous' statement about the HSCDC and CDBG monies, of course I know that. But you are wrong thinking that those block grant monies spent elsewhere were designated for H St. Actually, the HSCDC was designated to act in more than one urban renewal plan area. That's why they spent money here and there... (Ward 5).

Anyway, tote up all those various projects that I listed. Whether or not the money went through the CDC, the money was spent. E.g., the money on H Street Connection was direct from DHCD, and never touched the HSCDC. Obviously, the HSCDC didn't build the bridge, which cost about $16MM or Hechinger Mall which cost about $20MM, the Quadrangle, etc.

God knows how many millions went to the Children's Museum. And because the city had no clawback provisions if they moved out of the city, there was no recourse when they decided to go to PG, even though Abdo paid what, $25MM for the property (the entire square)?

Certainly, back in 1988 we expected that the soon to be reopened Union Station was going to jump start redevelopment in the H Street neighborhood. ALthough that was a federal project.

Etc.

All of these projects easily add up to over $100MM when all is said and done.

Plus the other things I mentioned.

Dec 7, 2009, 9:53:00 PM

 
Blogger Richard Layman said...

Oh, between H, 2nd, Florida and 14th there are not quite 1,800 single family dwellings. (A couple apartment buildings too.) And some buildings converted to flats/condos.

$200K * something like 1750 = $350MM

RL
geographically challenged

Dec 7, 2009, 9:58:00 PM

 

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