Alexandria, VA

In addition to a series bus line closures due to coronavirus, Metro is suspending service of Metroway-Potomac Yard — a bus line running between Pentagon City and Braddock Road.

The Metroway runs between Arlington and Alexandria through Crystal City and the Potomac Yard Shopping Center. The move comes after a day after Metro shut down several stations, including the Eisenhower Avenue and Van Dorn stations in Alexandria.

Andrew Kierig, Vice-Chair of the Riders’ Advisory Council, said he was concerned about the bus line closures but understood the reasoning.

“The Riders’ Advisory Council is deeply concerned about the impact these service changes are having on those who have no other alternative to get to work,” Kierig said. “At the same time, we’re also concerned about the health and wellbeing of Metro’s frontline employees.”

Kierig said another concern surrounding bus line closures was the ability of riders living in food deserts [places without access to affordable and nutritious food] when they live far from grocery stores.

“We’re concerned about the ability of those folks to get the supplies they need to make it through this thing alright,” Kierig said.

Granted, Kierig noted that this was less of a concern for the ridership of the Metroway, which tends to be from more affluent communities in Crystal City and Potomac Yard. For many riders, though, Kierig said the line is a quick and efficient way to get to the popular Target at Potomac Yard.

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(Updated 6:15 p.m.) The long squabble between the City of Alexandria and Metro over the Potomac Yard Metro station’s southwest access entrance has ended with an agreement within the initial $50 million framework.

Over the last year, the City has been in dispute with Metro over whether or not southwest access to the station could be achieved within the $50 million in funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Federal Transit Administration.

“We appreciate the community’s patience as we navigate the lengthy process necessary to change the station’s construction contract,” said Mayor Justin Wilson, who serves on the Potomac Yard Metrorail Implementation Group, in a press release. “We have worked hard to incorporate community feedback while ensuring the best value for taxpayers. We are looking forward to a new station that will make everyone proud.”

Initial estimates from Metro on each of the three options presented by the City of Alexandria came back as higher than $50 million, which the city and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation both challenged as far overpriced. According to City spokesman Craig Fifer, the two options now on the table consist of the ramp that’s in the current special use permit and the bridge and pavilion that is the least expensive of the three options.

“Now that additional discussions have been completed, all agencies agree that the contractor’s newest estimate is fair and reasonable,” the city said in a press release. “The proposed bridge and pavilion are priced within the $50 million of funding made available for enhanced southwest access by the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Federal Transit Administration. The ramp option would cost approximately $10 million to $15 million less.”

Meetings of the Potomac Yard Metro Implementation Group [PYMIG] are canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and PYMIG members have been asked to gather input from stakeholders on whether the ramp or bridge option is preferred. Staff will collect the input and the options will be considered at the April 14 City Council meeting.

Image via City of Alexandria

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Alexandria’s DASH bus system announced last night that all buses will eliminate fares starting today amid coronavirus concerns.

DASH said the new changes allow people to continue riding the buses will minimizing their exposure.

“Beginning Friday, March 20, DASH will eliminate fares on all buses until further notice, and switch to rear-door boarding as we continue to work to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” DASH said on its website. “Eliminating fares and moving to rear-door boarding will reduce passenger touchpoints, prevent potential crowding at fareboxes and promote social distancing between passengers and bus operators.”

The move comes after DASH took a significant hit to ridership at the start and went to a reduced schedule.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Starting Thursday, Alexandria’s DASH bus system will operate on an enhanced weekend schedule in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

DASH General Manager Josh Baker tells ALXnow that ridership has already decreased significantly.

“We’re estimating a 70% to 80% ridership decrease already,” Baker said. “Our new schedule reduces the frequency of buses on the routes. During the weekday we have huge spikes of buses out there and this is not needed. Nobody is riding, so we are maintaining an enhanced core service.”

On any given day, DASH will have upward of 180 drivers on Alexandria’s roadways, but now that number will be closer to about 45 drivers, Baker said.

“The operations team has also scaled down, so less people are in office, and with less buses on road we’re able to spread out our maintenance department so that technicians aren’t working together,” Baker said.

The full schedule for DASH riders is below:

As part of a wider effort to protect the health and safety of the Alexandria community and DASH employees, DASH will implement an Enhanced Saturday Operating Plan on weekdays, beginning Thursday, March 19. No changes are anticipated to weekend service.

Most routes will follow their regular DASH Saturday timetables. However, the following list provides a summary of service that will be provided. Full route timetables for the Enhanced Saturday Operating Plan can be found at www.dashbus.com/covidmods.

  • AT-1 Plus: Route will operate on its Saturday schedule (every 30 min.) with extra trips added to achieve 15-minute peak service. Early morning trips beginning at 5:15 a.m. will also be provided.
  • AT-2: Route will operate on its Saturday schedule with additional trips to achieve all-day 30-minute service. Early morning trips will also be added, starting at 5:23 a.m.
  • AT-2X: Mark Center Express route will operate during peak periods. AT-2 or AT-2X buses will run every 15 minutes between King Street Metro and the Mark Center during peak periods.
  • AT-3: Route will operate every 40 minutes during peak periods from Braddock Road Metro to the Pentagon Metro. AT-3 passengers in Old Town can use alternate routes such as the AT3/4, AT-7 or Metrobus 10A/10B.
  • AT-4: Route will operate every 40 minutes during peak periods from Braddock Road Metro to the Pentagon Metro. AT-4 passengers in Old Town can use alternate routes such as the AT-2, AT-3/4, AT-5, AT-8 or Metrobus 10A/10B.
  • AT-3/4: Route will operate on its regular Saturday schedule.
  • AT-5: Route will operate on its regular Saturday schedule with additional trips in the early morning beginning at 5:30 a.m.
  • AT-6: No service. Passengers may use the AT-5 or the AT-9 alternate routes.
  • AT-7: Route will operate between Eisenhower Metrorail Station and Lee Center every 30 minutes throughout the day (NOTE: Bus service along Eisenhower Avenue will be provided by the AT-5, per the regular Saturday schedule).
  • AT-8: Route will operate on its Saturday schedule with additional trips during peak periods to achieve 15-minute headways between Landmark Mall and King Street Metro. Additional trips will also be added during the early morning beginning at 5:12 a.m.
  • AT-9: Route will operate on its regular Saturday schedule.
  • AT-10: Route will operate on its regular Saturday schedule.
  • King Street Trolley: The Trolley will operate on its regular Saturday schedule.

The above service plan is subject to change without advance notice based on staffing levels and recommendations from public health officials. Please subscribe for DASH e-mail alerts (dashbus.com/dash-news) or follow us on social media (@DASHBus) for service change updates.

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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority on Tuesday announced further reduced services at its Metro stations in Alexandria and throughout the region in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The news comes after a Metro Transit Police Officer tested positive for the virus on Monday.

“We are working closely with the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and local health organizations to both monitor the individual and to take precautions to ensure that colleagues in Metro’s District II police facility near Franconia-Springfield,” Metro said in a statement.

“To be clear, Metro intends to be there to provide service for essential trips in our community — as long as it is safe and appropriate to do so,” stated Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “If everyone does their part and stays home whenever possible, Metro will be there for hospital staff and other heroes who need us at this unprecedented moment in our lives.”

As of Wednesday, all Metro stations will be closing an hour earlier and will be open weekdays from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

“Metro ridership was down nearly 70 percent across the board yesterday,” Metro announced Tuesday. “As a result, starting tomorrow, service will be further reduced – on both bus and rail – to allow even more cleaning and to reduce sharing of workspaces and vehicles for employee safety.”

Additionally, all Metro administrative employees are now teleworking, and trains are operating every 15 minutes throughout the day. All trains will run with 8 cars to “help maintain social distancing between customers.”

The system’s two rail operations control centers will also monitor platforms and trains for potential crowding. All track work has either been reduced or canceled, with the exception of emergency maintenance and inspection work. Metro is also recommending against taking trains and buses to the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which has already canceled a number of its events next month

These days, local commuter Celeste Byrd’s trip on the Metro is easy. Even though trains are operating at the King St-Old Town Metro station every 12 minutes, the trains are mostly empty.

“I really sanitize before I leave for work and I change clothes as soon as I get home,” Byrd told ALXnow while walking from the King Street station on Monday afternoon after work. “Metro is really keeping the stations clean. It feels like a hospital-type scenario.”

The 44-year-old Alexandria resident arrives at the King St-Old Town Metro station at around 9 a.m. during the week for her job as a receptionist for an Arlington psychiatrist.

“I didn’t know that the elevator doors at the Ballston Metro station were bronze. They used to be black and now they are thoroughly clean. You can smell the disinfectant all over,” Byrd said.

The transit system will also not be accepting job applications during the shutdown, as its MetroAccess Eligibility Center will be closed until further notice.

Metro is operating in Phase 3 of its Pandemic Flu Plan — the highest level of response that “will include all subsequent mitigation steps,” according to a Monday press release. “Metro expects to be at Phase 3 until further notice. Phase 4 is the ‘recovery phase’ of the plan that involves Metro’s return to normal operations after the situation is under control.”

Tuesday’s full release is below.

Metro’s Pandemic Task Force today announced major service reductions during the ongoing pandemic response. The changes further draw-down service to protect frontline employees, while maintaining regional mobility for essential trips taken by hospital staff, government officials, and emergency responders. The reduction takes into account the urgent public guidance from regional leaders, along with emergency orders to cancel events, close schools and offices, and limit social gatherings across the nation.

Our region is speaking with one voice: Stay home. Essential travel only.

Metro ridership was down nearly 70 percent across the board yesterday. As a result, starting tomorrow, service will be further reduced – on both bus and rail – to allow even more cleaning and to reduce sharing of workspaces and vehicles for employee safety. For the first time, the Metro Task Force will reduce rail system hours with an earlier closing time across the week.

“As members of our community stay home from work, school and social gatherings – following the critical emergency guidance of Governors Hogan and Northam and Mayor Bowser – Metro will reduce service and implement measures to reduce risk for employees and the public,” said Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “To be clear, Metro intends to be there to provide service for essential trips in our community – as long as it is safe and appropriate to do so. If everyone does their part and stays home whenever possible, Metro will be there for hospital staff and other heroes who need us at this unprecedented moment in our lives.”

Specifically, the Task Force is urging the public to NOT travel to the Cherry Blossom Festival to keep Metro’s limited capacity available for essential travel (e.g. doctors, nurses, essential governmental functions, etc.). Metro reserves the right to close stations near the Tidal Basin at any time to reduce the use of Metro for tourist trips.

In addition, Metro is acting urgently to further reduce the number of employees required at any time and working to create additional redundancy in Metro’s workforce to protect service continuity.

“The actions directed by the Task Force today will help Metro return to normal service when the pandemic emergency is over and our region begins to recover,” said Theresa M. Impastato, Metro’s Chief Safety Officer, who is leading Metro’s response to the pandemic and advising the General Manager.

Effective tomorrow (Wednesday, March 18)–and continuing until further notice–Metro service will operate as follows:

Metrorail:

  • Rail system hours and service levels are further reduced to support ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ONLY. DO NOT TRAVEL UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY and follow guidance from your state and local authorities.
  • New hours: Weekdays 5AM-11PM, Sat/Sun 8AM-11PM
  • Trains will run every 15 minutes on each line at all times, including the Red Line. All trains will operate with 8 cars, the maximum possible length, to help maintain social distancing between customers.
  • Metro’s Rail Operations Control Centers (two) will actively monitor trains and station platforms for any possible crowding, something that has not been an issue at any point during the pandemic emergency response.
  • Metro is reducing/cancelling track work, except emergency maintenance and inspections, to avoid unexpected delays and maintain 15-minute intervals between trains.

Metrobus:

  • Bus hours and service levels are further reduced to support ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ONLY. DO NOT TRAVEL UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY and follow guidance from your state and local authorities.
  • Buses will operate on a Sunday schedule, with supplemental service on selected routes to prevent crowding and ensure areas are not cut off. Visit wmata.com for information about “supplemental” routes that will operate, in addition to Sunday routes.
  • IMPORTANT: Bus operators are granted the authority to bypass bus stops to maintain safe social distancing aboard the vehicle.
  • These actions reduce the number of Metro employees and buses required to maintain service by more than 60 percent.

MetroAccess:

  • All subscription trips are cancelled until further notice. Customers with a critical need to travel should make a separate reservation calling 301-562-5360 (TTY 301-588-7535) or via the online reservation system.
  • Customers are strongly encouraged to travel ONLY IF ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.

IF YOU ARE NOT FEELING WELL OR HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS OF ILLNESS, YOU MUST AVOID TAKING PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. THIS INCLUDES METROACCESS CUSTOMERS. Instead, do the following:

  1. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER BEFORE LEAVING YOUR HOME. Do NOT show up without calling first. Your healthcare provider may want to send you to an alternate location.
  2. FOLLOW YOUR PROVIDER’S INSTRUCTIONS. DON’T USE PUBLIC TRANSIT. Let your doctor’s office know if you have transportation needs. They will provide instructions for you to get help. Again, to protect the health and safety our employees, their families, and your fellow passengers, do not use Metro if you are not feeling well.

Due to the emergency service adjustments, Metro’s online trip planner, electronic bus information displays and third-party app-based services may not immediately reflect the schedule changes taken by the Pandemic Task Force. Metro is not adjusting fares, despite service reductions.

“We want everyone to follow the guidance of state and local leaders. Stay home. Travel only if it’s essential and limit your exposure to others,” Impastato said. “The health and well-being of our employees and riders is paramount, and our team will continue to work around the clock to prioritize public health and safety in Metro’s response to this unprecedented emergency.”

Metro has already taken the following steps to protect the health and safety of its frontline employees:

  • Increased Metro’s on-hand warehouse inventory of essential supplies, such as hospital-grade disinfectant, wipes, face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and other items used by Metro’s front-line employees.
  • Allowing Station Managers to remain in kiosks at all times to minimize their public exposure. Access to kiosks–even among Metro employees–has been further restricted.
  • Closed all public restroom access systemwide.
  • Giving Bus Operators discretion to bypass bus stops if their vehicle is too crowded to maintain safe social distancing.
  • Directed train operators to remain in operating cabs except in an emergency.
  • All Metrobuses are equipped with protective safety shields for operators and are to remain closed.
  • Implemented mandatory telework for most job functions.
  • Banned visitors and non-essential access to buildings and worksites.
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With the first confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the D.C. area, Alexandria’s DASH transit agency says it will be taking extra precautions.

In a press release Friday afternoon, DASH said it is “increasing facility and vehicle cleaning with a special focus on critical touchpoints such as door handles, handrails and other surfaces.” It is also encouraging passengers “to utilize everyday methods to prevent the spread of germs recommended by the CDC and Alexandria’s Health Department.”

More from the press release:

Alexandria Transit Company (DASH) is joining regional transit agencies and local authorities in taking steps to prepare for and prevent the spread of COVID-19 or novel coronavirus. As a public transportation agency responsible for the safety and security of thousands of passengers daily, DASH is increasing measures to maintain a safe and healthy environment for its passengers and personnel.

“We’re a public transit agency, so of course safety is always our top priority. We are taking precautions and preparing in accordance with CDC guidelines to protect both our passengers and our personnel,” said Stephanie Salzone, DASH safety and security manager.

DASH is increasing facility and vehicle cleaning with a special focus on critical touchpoints such as door handles, handrails and other surfaces. These cleanings will incorporate disinfection procedures indicated to be effective against COVID-19. These measures apply to all DASH buses and King Street Trolleys.

In addition to these efforts, DASH encourages all passengers to utilize everyday methods to prevent the spread of germs recommended by the CDC and Alexandria’s Health Department. These include frequently and effectively washing hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Be sure to follow the CDC’s guidelines for proper handwashing.

The public is also encouraged to cover any coughing or sneezing with a tissue or sleeve. Used tissues should be immediately discarded in an appropriate garbage receptacle. Hands should be washed immediately after coughing or sneezing.

Finally, anyone experiencing fever, coughing, sneezing and shortness of breath is encouraged to stay home and avoid outside contact whenever possible.

According to the CDC, general risk among the American public outside of areas with confirmed cases of COVID-19 is low. Of the 164 of coronavirus across 19 states, none have been reported in Virginia or the district. As of March 5, three individuals in Maryland have tested positive for the virus and Governor Hogan has declared a state of emergency.

The City of Alexandria, the Alexandria Health Department, Inova Health System, and the Alexandria City Public Schools will host an online virtual information session on Thursday, March 12, from 8 to 9 p.m., to provide information and answer questions about the COVID-19 coronavirus. The session will also address how government agencies, businesses and residents can prepare. A recording of the session will be available after the session end

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The King Street Trolley runs from the King Street Metro down to the waterfront, but a section of the new Transit Vision Plan could extend that path down to the Eisenhower Metro station.

“The 2030 and 2022 Vision Plan Networks include the King Street Trolley with a potential extension from the King Street Metro to the Eisenhower Metro Station via the Carlyle and Eisenhower East districts,” the plan said. “This could provide a frequent connection directly between the large and dense activity center around Eisenhower Avenue Metro and Old Town.”

Proposed changes also include longer hours for the trolley. Currently, the trolley starts running at 10:30 or 11 a.m. on a 10-15 minute loop. The plan noted that this service means the trolley is not available for morning commuters, early shift workers, or others coming into Old Town before 10:30 a.m.

“The revised King Street Trolley also would operate with more traditional operating hours, including morning service,” the study said. “It should be noted, however, that due to the funding arrangement for the operation of the King Street Trolley, any potential changes to the trolley would require additional coordination and approval by City Council.”

The extension of the King Street Trolley is included in the longer-term goals for the project, with implementation planned by 2030.

The trolley is funded by hotel tax revenues from across the city, though the transit survey noted the current benefits are mostly confined to Old Town. The revised route would run through a neighborhood slated for extensive residential and commercial redevelopment.

“This raises an issue about the fairness of funding a free route in one part of the city that is paid for from hotel taxes across the entire city,” the study said. “[One option] would require fares on all routes, including the King Street Trolley. To offset the impact of this change on tourists and visitors, DASH could provide free passes to Visit Alexandria for all Alexandria hotels and other tourism entities.”

The plan does not make any recommendations for a fare policy.

The plan was adopted by the Alexandria Transit Company — which operates DASH and the King Street Trolley — in December. The Transit Vision Plan was presented to the City Council on Feb. 25 as an update. Implementation of the plan’s suggestions is scheduled to be considered next year as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 budget.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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(Updated at 3 p.m.) Micro-mobility company Helbiz is poised to be the first company in Alexandria offering both e-scooters and e-bikes in Alexandria.

“Helbiz… has been awarded a permit to operate both its innovative e-bikes and e-scooters in Alexandria, Virginia, making it the only company to offer both transportation solutions in the market,” the company said in a press release. “This permit follows the launch of the company’s fleet of e-bikes in neighboring Washington, D.C. and highlights Helbiz’s continued commitment to offering eco-friendly micro-mobility solutions in the area.”

Gian Luca Spriano, a spokesperson for the Italian-American company, said it would be partnering with Alexandria’s Department of Transportation to ensure safety is prioritized and the company has met all the regulatory standards.

The press release noted that the company plans to operate 200 e-scooters and 200 e-bikes in Alexandria, deployed at some point “in the coming weeks.”

The e-scooters and e-bikes are accessible through the Helbiz app, in which users can locate, rent, and unlock the devices.

Photo via Helbiz/Twitter

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The Alexandria City Council has unanimously approved a license agreement to allow Potomac Riverboat Company’s water taxi to ferry commuters from the waterfront to the District Wharf in D.C.

The daily water taxi service, which begins on March 1, was first introduced to Alexandria during last summer’s Metro shutdown, and commuters will start sailing at 6 a.m.

“I’m glad we’re doing this,” said Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson. “I look forward to personally doing it. It works out really well on council meeting days, because I can leave my car here (at City Hall) and take my boat from my day job directly here.”

Potomac Riverboat Company increased its water taxi fleet last April with the addition of four new yellow boats. It also runs the Cherry Blossom, Matthew Hayes, and other named vessels. A commuter pass valid from March 1 to Dec. 31 costs $295, and a round-trip ticket costs $10.

City staff maintain that water taxi commuters will not create parking issues in Old Town — a sticking point for Councilwoman Del Pepper.

“The more ways we can find to get people off our cement streets the better,” Pepper said. “I have for about a decade opposed this, and the reason has been because of concern that our streets and our parking lots would all be filled with people getting to this destination (the waterfront). I’m going to support it with the caveat that I hope staff will be following this, and if this becomes a problem for the neighbors, I want it brought back for discussion.”

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The Eisenhower Partnership is making a last-minute push to try to salvage a 15-minute bus service plan for Eisenhower Avenue ahead of tomorrow’s City Council meeting.

Currently buses cycle along Eisenhower Avenue every 30 minutes, as they do in much of the rest of the city. A new plan would increase the frequency of service in densely populated corridors, while cutting down or eliminating service to some less-densely populated residential areas.

After backlash from Seminary Hill residents at risk of losing the AT2 line, DASH restored some of the less dense areas but at the cost of scaling back the 15-minute cycles planned for Eisenhower.

Now, the Eisenhower Partnership — a non-profit representing the Eisenhower Valley — has set up a petition hoping to make Eisenhower Avenue one of the 15-minute bus service routes again.

“We ask Alexandria City Council and the DASH Board of Directors to amend the plan to bring more frequent service to Eisenhower by 2022 to support continued economic growth, improved livability for residents, and fewer cars on our streets,” the group said in the petition. “The Eisenhower Valley is booming in new residential and commercial construction. It is an economic engine for Alexandria, increasingly providing improvements to innovation, learning, and living.”

The petition has 118 signatures with a goal of 200.

The Eisenhower Partnership cited upcoming plans to increase density in Eisenhower, with a shift towards greater residential uses.

“DASH ridership on Eisenhower is already strong, averaging 175 riders each weekday,” the petition said. “This number will grow, since several new apartment buildings are planned or under construction along Eisenhower, including partial conversion of the Victory Center to residential. Long-awaited growth is great news, but these new residents will either ride the bus to Metro stations or add to the unmitigated traffic problem.”

The City Council is scheduled to review an update on the transit vision study at the meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).

By 2030, the plan is to have virtually every bus route in the city — including Eisenhower Avenue — at 15-minute frequency. The 2022 planned network, however, would leave the N1 route on Eisenhower avenue at 30-minute frequency.

“To support smart growth and reduce traffic for all Alexandrians, bus service on Eisenhower should be at least every 15 minutes by 2022, increasing as needed,” the petition said. “For certain, another ten years of low-frequency service on Eisenhower will leave all Alexandrians in a jam.”

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Alexandria’s DASH bus system is looking to improve its mobile ticketing smartphone application, but city officials want the app to be compatible with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s SmarTrip cards.

The bus system views the rollout of the app last June to be a success. Now DASH is working with the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission to understand how to improve upon the system before making those next steps.

“We eventually hope to see that merge with the future generation of SmarTrip,” DASH General Manager Josh Baker told the city council during the transit company’s annual stockholder meeting at City Hall on Tuesday. “Our system is entirely self- contained. You’re able to buy a pass on there, add money to your trips, but not on your SmartTrip card. So, eventually we hope to see that system feed into the future generations.”

Baker added, “It’s a little tricky, because of course WMATA had some stuff going on internally in that they’re trying to figure out in terms of SmartTrip in the future.”

But Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said that there needs to be some regional leadership around converging the technology to be compatible across multiple transportation platforms.

“You go to the San Francisco Bay area, and whether you’re riding Oakland’s bus system, whether you’re riding the ferry, the BART, whether you’re riding SFMTA, whatever, you’re using the same card, the same media, all the same system,” Wilson said. “We’ve got to be there eventually. So, not only the bus systems in Metro, but VRE and the water taxi and everyone else.”

Approximately 1,000 bus riders downloaded the app in June, and by October there were more than 5,000 users. The app was made available to accommodate riders during the summer shutdown of Alexandria’s Metro stations for platform improvements.

Last year, DASH reported more than 4 million passenger trips and logged 1.7 million miles.

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Interested in sailing to work? During last summer’s Metro Shutdown, Alexandria eased restrictions allowing for the Potomac Riverboat Company’s water taxi to ferry commuters from the city’s waterfront to the District Wharf.

Tonight, the city council will receive a report on extending the license agreement to allow for early morning water taxi commuting services to continue.

The agreement, which would allow for the water taxi to start running as early as 6:30 a.m., was “nearly unanimously” endorsed by the Waterfront Commission, according to a Dec. 31 letter submitted in the staff presentation to council.

The letter also said that there should be minimal parking impacts in Old Town.

Specifically, staff found that 85% of commuters surveyed said they either walked or biked to the water taxi, and 90% of these commuters were former Metrorail riders,” Waterfront Commission Chair Stephen Thayer wrote. “Staff noted these former Metrorail riders did not stop riding Metrorail altogether, but simply boarded Metrorail at L’Enfant Plaza, which is a short shuttle bus ride away from the District’s Wharf.”

The Commission is also asking the city to consider a water taxi user reimbursement program. During the summer shutdown the daily $10 commuter round trip was reduced 80% with the reimbursement.

Potomac Riverboat Company operates four water taxis, in addition to the Cherry Blossom, Matthew Hayes, and other named vessels.

The Council will decide on the matter at a public hearing on Feb. 22.

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