18th and Columbia Streets, NW. Photo by the author.

The Calvert Street Bridge is the only connection between Adams Morgan and the closest Metro station, Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan. It’s not unusual to see a steady stream of pedestrians crossing the bridge on weekends. But that may change if Metro cuts late-night service.

Throughout the debate over whether or not Metro should cut the service for financial reasons, owners and managers at bars, clubs, and lounges in DC and beyond have been concerned about what impact such a change would have on their businesses and way of life in the region.

Matt Cronin is the owner of The District on 18th Street NW, dubbed one of the city’s “hottest” nightclubs. He is one of dozens of Adams Morgan business owners furious about the proposal.

Cronin worries that lost tax revenue to the city will exceed the amount WMATA will save if service is cut. “I want to see the numbers make sense,” he said. He predicts his business will probably drop 20% on Fridays and Saturdays, and that a number of the city’s establishments will go under. “The whole District will be damaged by it,” he worries.

Cronin predicts such a dramatic loss because weekend parking in Adams Morgan is already at critical mass, and there will be no method of transportation to replace Metro. “It’s a horrible parking situation,” he laments, “We do a valet, but the valet fills up.”

The Woodley Park station, about a half-mile away from one of the top club districts on the East Coast, is one of the most utilized Metro stations between midnight and 3 am. Cronin also expressed concerns over drunk drivers, and taxi shortages plaguing Adams Morgan come last call. “This is the capital of the free world, and to have a Metro that doesn’t run past midnight is just embarrassing.”

Just outside the District, the concerns about cutting Metro’s late-night service are not tied to losing business. At Union Jack’s in Ballston, operations manager Anthony Murphy actually believes business will increase if the changes take effect. (Full disclosure: I am a former bouncer at Union Jack’s in Bethesda and Anthony Murphy is my brother.).


Union Jack’s. Photo by the author.

Union Jack’s has locations adjacent to both the Ballston and Bethesda Metro stations; despite this, Murphy states that “people will not Metro into the city, instead staying the the suburban area closer to their homes.” At both locations, you walk past a parking garage to get to the Metro station.

Even with the potential for more business, there are concerns about the changes. Murphy worries about drunk driving. “If a bar can be held accountable for a drunk guy getting behind the wheel of a car, then the Metro should also be held accountable if they make this change.”

Union Jack’s will also likely close their kitchens earlier. “Many of our back-of-the-house employees depend on Metro to get home,” Murphy said, “This change could create a lot of unemployment in the industry.” Murphy’s wife, Paige, also relies on Metro to get to her job as a bartender at the Chesapeake Room on Barracks Row near the Eastern Market Metro station.

The increase in business, it seems, is just not worth the added liabilities. “Metro should do a bake sale or a car wash or whatever they have to do to get the funds to not keep the Metro from shutting down earlier, but also maybe have it stay open later,” said Murphy, calling the service cuts an “irresponsible move.”

Indeed, bar owners throughout the city are weary. If the late-night service cuts happen, it could mean drastic changes in revenue, increased liability issues, and difficulty for employees getting to and from work.

In the meantime, Metro will continue to serve tens of thousands of customers during weekend late nights. And for hundreds of gussied up bar patrons, the late night parade across the Calvert Street Bridge will remain a staple of the Adams Morgan night life experience.