Baseball crowds don’t suit the uber fan

Virginia Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R) wrote a column in The Washington Times this weekend about Virginia’s dust-up with the Uber and Lyft services that got the attention of a local baseball fan for one particular reason.

Nationals Park map Washington’s baseball fans don’t need a limo to leave Nationals Park.

While Obenshain’s overall theme was “Uber and Lyft deserve a chance to compete with cabs,” he mentioned something about getting a taxi after a game at Nationals Park that in my reader’s view (and yours, perhaps?) took this beyond a big government vs. free enterprise scenario.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:
This piece is the standard Republican boilerplate about Uber and Lyft, and his hostility toward mass transit being for “them” and not “us” is implicit, but then the article contains this extraordinary statement:

“I’ve learned from experience that it’s almost impossible to hail a cab after a Washington Nationals baseball game, but if I punch a few buttons on my cellphone, an Uber driver will be there in minutes.”

Has experience taught him about the cab stand on M Street, where everyone gets in line and waits patiently? Who tries to hail a cab after a game? Who? Never have I seen that attempted.

There’s a cab stand. Get in line. There are bus stops. Get in line. There’s Metro. Enjoy the fleeting crush of humanity! Just like inside the ballpark!
Kurt Jensen, Alexandria

I’m not a fan of transportation ideology and never recommend people travel a certain way for the sake of humanity. But I think I share Jensen’s sentiment about getting to and from baseball games. Using a smartphone to reserve a ride and avoid rubbing shoulders with the hoi polloi is the equivalent of watching baseball from a glassed-enclosed skybox. Reserve that for the ubermensch.

Taxis in general give me an uncomfortable feeling, but I think that’s more about loss of control in a confined space. (I’m not crazy about elevators either.)

The taxi stand on the north side of M Street SE between South Capitol and Half streets SE was created to aid fans who couldn’t hail a post-game cab. Taxis can pick up riders there beginning about two hours after the first pitch and continuing till a half-hour after the game ends.

I haven’t used that evacuation route, preferring Metrorail, a Circulator bus or a walk up New Jersey Avenue to Capitol Hill. So I’d appreciate any comments from those have tried the taxi stand about their experiences.

Jensen thinks Metro has been dealing with the post-game crowds at Navy Yard station “quite well,” and I agree, though I also agree with him when he says the scene there sometimes resembles a mosh pit. “Sometimes you’re in the mood for it, sometimes not!” he wrote.

When the big crowd is lined up for the escalators at the Half Street Metro entrance, I often find it easier to walk east to the entrance at M Street and New Jersey Avenue. Nearby is the bus stop for the Circulator, which arrives about every 10 minutes for a trip to Eastern Market and Union Station. But if it’s a nice afternoon or evening — and not a day like today when the temperature will be above 90, with humidity — I might walk north for about 20 minutes to the Capitol South Metro station.

Let all fans find their own way.
See more travel suggestions in the guide to getting to Nationals Park.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.

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The Washington Post · July 8, 2014