The long-awaited return of Old Town’s King Street Trolley is scheduled for next Monday, July 5.

According to a press release from the City of Alexandria, the trolley will resume daily operation on Monday, with a few modifications.

For starters, the trolley will run from the King Street Metro station to Market Square, outside of City Hall, with the 100 block of King Street converted into a pedestrian zone. A new stop will be added at the southeast corner of Market Square for better access to the Potomac River waterfront.

The trolley will run every 15 minutes from 11 a.m.-11 p.m., seven days per-week including holidays. The city said the simplified schedule will help make the trolley more accessible.

Trolley service has been suspended for a little over a year due to the pandemic. Face masks will be required for anyone riding the trolley.

The free trolley is a popular service in Alexandria, and extensions down Eisenhower Avenue have been considered. Later this year, DASH is scheduled to follow the trolley’s example and convert the entire bus network into a free service.

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Morning Notes

Sheriff Dana Lawhorne to receive Lifetime Valor Award — “In recognition of his retirement, we are pleased to honor Sheriff Dana Lawhorne with a Lifetime Valor Award at this year’s Valor Awards. Join us virtually, on June 22nd, to honor Sheriff Lawhorne’s 43 years of law enforcement service to Alexandria.” [Chamber ALX]

West End Business Association hosting 1 p.m. conversation with Mayor — “Take this opportunity to ask questions and connect with Mayor Justin Wilson about how he would continue to serve the city of Alexandria.” [WEBA]

Chinquapin Recreation Center closing for improvements June 26 — “The City of Alexandria’s Chinquapin Park Recreation Center and Aquatics Facility (3210 King St.) will close Saturday, June 26 through Monday, Sept. 6, for several planned facility improvements and annual cleaning.” [Zebra]

Vaccine Equity Clinic on Route 1 in Fairfax County offering free transportation — “The Health Department and Fairfax Connector have partnered to offer free transportation to those who want to get vaccinated at the clinic, located in the former Safeway site at 7451 Mount Vernon Square Center in Alexandria. Fairfax Connector’s Free Vaccine Shuttle will run along Fairfax Connector’s line in that region.” [Fairfax County]

Annual Waterfront Commission walk is today — “The walk will be in person starting at (5 p.m. at) the intersection of Oronoco and South Union Streets and will proceed south to Robinson Landing. The walk is anticipated to end at 6:30 p.m.” [City of Alexandria]

Fire Department conducting community meeting on restructuring today — “The Alexandria Fire Department (AFD) will implement an organizational restructure, effective Saturday, June 12, 2021. The goals of the changes are to improve service efficiency and response times across the City; reduce cost; increase safety on the roadways; and improve response preparedness for specialty teams such as the Technical Rescue, Hazardous Materials, and Inland Water Rescue teams. AFD Representatives will present the upcoming changes to the community and answer questions.” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s weather — “Rain showers in the morning with numerous thunderstorms developing in the afternoon. High 81F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 90%… Thunderstorms in the evening, then variable clouds overnight with still a chance of showers. Low around 65F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Ghost tour guide — “US Ghost Adventures, a national tour operation is seeking energetic storytellers to lead 90-minute walking tour groups downtown. This part-time position is ideal for self-motivated candidates looking for a fun way to make extra income in the evenings.” [Indeed]

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The final touches are being made on the King Street-Old Town Metro Access Improvement Project.

On-site bus route testing will begin later this month, and bus service to new shelters will start in early June, according to the city. Contractor Fort Myer Construction Corporation was supposed to have finished the project last spring.

“There is no date for a ribbon cutting yet, but we are making progress,” Camila Olivares, a communications associate with the city’s Department of Transportation & Environmental Services, told ALXnow. “Staff is increasingly confident the project will be substantially complete this summer.”

Olivares said that the city will provide additional updates on the project this week.

Rendering via City of Alexandria

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After years of public outreach, a new planned overhaul of the DASH but network is scheduled to launch this fall.

At a meeting last night, DASH representatives said the phased replacement of the current coverage-focused network — a design with a focus on ensuring all Alexandrians have access to some level of bus service — to a service focused model — one that decreases coverage but increases frequency and reliability of its bus lines.

The first phase of the overhaul is scheduled to launch in September, staff said.

Tristan Cunningham, senior planner with DASH, said the new bus lines will offer “more useful transit where people can use it” and better mobility midday and on evenings and weekends.

During the meeting, DASH highlighted a few of the new routes that will provide better access to the incoming Potomac Yard Metro station and nearby redevelopment.

  • Line 36 A/B, replacing AT 9, will run from the Mark Center to Potomac Yard by way of Alexandria High School.
  • Line 34 will run from the Lee Center and the Braddock Road Metro station up to Potomac Yard

DASH emphasized that the new routes will dramatically increase access to all-day service for low-income residents, minority residents, and seniors.

The tradeoff is some routes through less densely populated areas could have reduced service or be cut entirely. There has been some back-and-forth over which lines will be axed, with DASH eventually restoring a replacement for the AT2 line through Seminary Hill. Two routes through North Ridge, the 103 and 104, will only operate during peak service hours.

DASH is accepting feedback on the plan through April 16.

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You’ll need $2 per trip and a face mask if you want to take the DASH bus now.

For the first time in more than a year, today (Monday, March 15), DASH brought back collecting fares and front door boarding,

“This policy change brings us closer to resuming a ‘new normal’ of transit service while continuing to prioritize the safety of our employees, riders and community,” said Josh Baker, DASH CEO/General Manager.

In response to the pandemic, DASH discouraged city residents against traveling from home, suspended fare collection, moved to rear-door boarding and added face mask requirements. The King Street Trolley has been completely suspended since last March and will stay shut down until further notice.

DASH has made enhancements to its DASHbus app, which allows passengers to recharge their their bus fare on their phones. The app is available on Google Play and at the Apple Store.

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Alexandria’s DASH bus service is at 40% of pre-pandemic ridership, and near-term changes include bringing back fare collection and adding a partition protecting drivers from passengers, according to an annual presentation given to City Council by the transit system on Tuesday night.

“We have some exciting things going on,” DASH Board Chair David Kaplan told Council. “We have been creative, we have worked together with other departments, with the health department and others to ensure that it is safe to use transit.”

In response to the pandemic, DASH discouraged city residents against traveling from home, suspended fare collection, moved to rear-door boarding and introduced face mask requirements. Additionally, the King Street Trolley has been completely suspended since last March. Now, however, DASH is working on expanding its mobile ticketing app.

“We are getting ready to move back to fare collection here hopefully in the coming months,” DASH General Manager Josh Baker told Council.And that is contingent upon our board’s approval at their upcoming meeting, as well as the completion of the installation of driver barriers, which will create a partition between the passengers who are boarding… and when they’re paying their fares.”

Baker said that in addition to the three electric buses it got last year, that DASH will get eight new electric buses this year and then a dozen more in 2022. At that point, he said, Alexandria will have the largest fleet of electric buses in region.

The pandemic also pushed back the implementation of the Alexandria Transit Vision plan from July to September. The plan adds weekday-only N12 bus service on Seminary Road and Janneys Lane, replacing the current AT-2 route segment. It will also expand off-peak weekend service by 50%, with buses arriving every 15-30 minutes all day.

“We have seen our largest drop in ridership on our commuter routes, but we continue to see people… who need to move around Alexandria,” Baker said. “Essential workers, people who don’t have other options, they need to ride transit and you see them riding throughout the day all hours and all times.”

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Morning Notes

Del Ray Business Association Launches ‘I Love Del Ray’ Campaign — “Now through April, you’re going to see a lot of marketing and promotion out there about all of our wonderful small businesses — both in-home and brick-and-mortar — and how we can support them through these tough upcoming winter months.” [Zebra]

How Alexandria is Celebrating Black History Month — “Join the City in celebrating #BlackHistoryMonth with special virtual events and activities throughout February, honoring the history, culture, achievements and contributions of African Americans.” [Twitter]

City Announces CDC Order Requiring Masks on Public Transportation — “Public transportation employees must use best efforts to ensure that everyone waiting, embarking and disembarking is wearing a mask over their nose and mouth at all times, with limited exceptions. Efforts for compliance may include only boarding people wearing masks; instructing passengers of the federal law and requesting compliance; and disembarking any individual who refuses to comply. This order applies to all modes of public transportation within, to and from the United States, including airplanes, ships, ferries, subways, buses, and ride-shares.” [City of Alexandria]

City Warming Centers Open — “City warming centers are open daily 8am-5pm through February 5 to provide relief from the cold for community members who may not have access warm shelter during the day.” [Twitter]

City Says Playing Around Relieves Stress — “Play is good for you! Studies show that laughter can help adults relieve pain and even increase immunity. So do your body good and make room for joy!” [Twitter]

Today’s Weather — “Snow showers (during the day). Temps nearly steady in the mid 30s. Winds NW at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of snow 50%. Snow accumulations less than one inch. Higher wind gusts possible… Cloudy (in the evening). Low 29F. Winds NW at 15 to 25 mph. Higher wind gusts possible.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Team Member  — “Toastique is a rapidly growing company looking for passionate new talent to help create smoothies, gourmet toast & juice while giving the customers an incredible experience the minute they walk through the door.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Beyer Introduces Legislation to Honor Slain Capitol Police Officer — “Officer Brian Sicknick was a hero who gave his life in service to his country. It is fitting that Congress honor his life, courage, and ideals. @RepBonnie and I just introduced bipartisan legislation to commemorate Officer Sicknick’s life and sacrifice.” [Twitter]

City Councilman John Taylor Chapman Running for Reelection — “John needs your help to appear on the ballot for the June 8 Democratic Primary for Alexandria City Council. Although we would love to have a traditional in-person event, we need to adapt for everyone’s safety. So, stop by the Beatley Library parking lot for a safe, socially distanced drive-thru Meet & Greet to sign John’s voter petition. We’ll be taking the following COVID precautions: masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. Feel free to bring your own pen (though we’ll have some on hand).” [Facebook]

This Friday is a Teacher Work Day for ACPS — “ACPS Reminder: No School for students this Friday, Jan. 29. It is a Teacher Work Day. Food distribution this Friday will only be provided at T.C. Williams High School and Hammond Middle School. Families who need meals should pick them up from one of these two locations.” [Twitter]

Capital Bikeshare Moves to New Location in Old Town — “@Bikeshare users: the St. Asaph & Montgomery station, adjacent to Gables Old Town North is being relocated today from St. Asaph Street to Pitt St., the other side of the building. Not familiar with Bikeshare? Visit alexandriava.gov/bikesharing.” [Twitter]

Richmond Highway Bus Rapid Transit System Taking Shape — “One of the largest projects that will transform Richmond Highway in the next decade is the construction of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system along the corridor. Last year, Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) began to hold public meetings about the project which is still in the early days of design and right of way acquisition.” [Alexandria Living]

Here Are the 100 Posters Kids Submitted for Martin Luther King, Jr Online Exhibition — “The exhibit also allowed many of the young artists to use the opportunity to paint messages regarding social distancing, and the importance of masking up and thanking our front line workers, topics close to many hearts this year.” [Zebra]

Local Nonprofits Receive $100K in Donations — “The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia awarded four nonprofits in the region with $25,000 grants to help improve vulnerable residents’ access to food on Jan. 21, according to a news release. ALIVE!, an Alexandria nonprofit that provides food, shelter and financial support for those in need, was one of the recipients of CFNV’s grants. The Arlington Free Clinic, Capital Area Food Bank and The House, Inc. also received grants…” [Alex Times]

Free Mount Vernon Admission By Reservation Offered On 2 Dates — “George Washington’s Mount Vernon will continue the tradition of free admission days for Presidents Day and Washington’s birthday, but advanced registration will be required.” [Patch]

Alexandria/Arlington Sorority Sisters Celebrate Inauguration of Vice President Harris — “As someone who participated in the Civil Rights movement of the 60s, I get emotional just thinking about this huge accomplishment and how far we as a people have come. The idea that a woman of color, who attended an HBCU, and who was raised by a single parent is now our Vice President is mind-boggling.” [Gazette]

Today’s Weather — “Sunny along with a few clouds (during the day). High around 35F. Winds NW at 15 to 25 mph. Higher wind gusts possible… Partly cloudy skies (in the evening). Low 22F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Front Desk Agent — “Sage Hospitality is looking for a Front Desk Agent at the Alexandrian Hotel.” [Indeed]

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Alexandria is opposed to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s plan to eliminate bus routes in the West End to the Pentagon, and has asked the transit system to reconsider its proposed service changes.

“These are difficult times for all transit agencies and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is facing a dire financial crisis,” Mayor Justin Wilson wrote on Facebook. “While cuts are necessary, we have provided input to ensure that Alexandria’s most vulnerable populations do not lose mobility and that as ridership returns, service should return.

Wilson told Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld in an October 16 letter that “some of the bus service cuts may have too great a negative impact on our essential workers and travelers who have limited other options for getting to where they need to go.”

Earlier this month, Metro asked for public feedback on its proposed cuts.

“The pandemic has cost Metro hundreds of millions of dollars and ridership remains extremely low,” WMATA said in a public survey. “The service provided today is only possible thanks to federal funding (CARES Act) that will soon run out. Without additional federal help, Metro will have to use every option to balance the budget. This includes resuming Metrobus fare collection, limiting contractor use, furloughing employees, and deferring some capital program expenses. But service cuts and layoffs may also be needed this December.”

Specifically, Wilson said that the city is concerned about service cuts from the West End of Alexandria to the Pentagon with cuts to the 8’s and 21’s.

“WMATA is proposing $20 million more in cuts that it is budgeting will be necessary,” Wilson wrote. “Therefore, the City encourages you to consider restoring a greater level of bus service with that funding.”

Wilson continued, “While we understand that these routes may not be the most productive, they do serve a high share of low-income and households of color, who may work as janitorial or other support staff at the Pentagon, use the Pentagon to connect to other work centers in the region, and not get commuter benefits or have good alternative transportation options.”

These are difficult times for all transit agencies and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is facing a dire…

Posted by Justin Wilson on Thursday, October 22, 2020

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With federal funds drying up, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is proposing a number of service reductions that will impact Alexandria.

The transit system is asking for public feedback on the proposed reduction of bus lines and other weekday service announcements in a survey and a public hearing on Tuesday, October 13.

“The pandemic has cost Metro hundreds of millions of dollars and ridership remains extremely low,” WMATA said in the survey. “The service provided today is only possible thanks to federal funding (CARES Act) that will soon run out. Without additional federal help, Metro will have to use every option to balance the budget. This includes resuming Metrobus fare collection, limiting contractor use, furloughing employees, and deferring some capital program expenses. But service cuts and layoffs may also be needed this December.”

Under the proposal, all Metro stations would close at 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Trains would run every 12 minutes, except in Alexandria. Since the Arlington Cemetery station will be closed for renovation from mid-February until mid-May, Metro is adding trains to allow for a six minute wait time for a detour taking travelers across the 14th Street Bridge to the Le Enfant Plaza station in D.C.

Additionally, Metrobuses will continue to not operate after midnight.

Proposed weekday bus service adjustments:

  • Operating hours would continue to be reduced on the following routes: 3A, 22A, 22F, 89M, H12, T2
  • Operating hours would continue to be increased on the following routes: 7A, 7F, N6
  • Frequency would continue to be reduced on the following routes: 1C, 2A, 2B, 3A, 5A, 7Y, 16A, 16C, 16G, 16H, 22A, , 22F, 42, 43, 62, 63, 64, 74, 83, 86, C8, C11, C12, C13, C14, D2, D4, D6, D8, E2, E4, F6, F8, F12, F13, G2, H2, H3, H4, H6, H8, H9, H12, L2, L8, M6, Metroway, N6, Q1, Q2, Q4, Q6, R4, R12, U4, U5, U6, U7, V8, W2, W3, W6, W8, X8, Z2
  • Frequency would continue to be increased on the following routes: 7A, 7F, K6
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