Alexandria, VA

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

Alexandria Police Participate in Honoring Fallen Capitol Police Officer — “APD participated in the memorial service for fallen U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Our officers rendered honors for Ofc. Sicknick, and joined the escort from the U.S. Capitol to Arlington National Cemetery. Our prayers are with his family and friends.” [Twitter]

Free COVID-19 Self-Testing Kiosks Available Around City— “Visit a Curative COVID-19 self-testing kiosk in Alexandria for a free test. Tests do not require government ID; service available in English and Spanish. Make an appointment at Curative.com. Walk up testing also available. For more info: alexandriava.gov/114730.” [Twitter]

Beyer Challenges House Republicans Over Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — “Instead Greene uses her official position to double down on dehumanizing rhetoric. She claims she is a victim, and is raising money off the outrage over her calls for violence. Republicans can reject her violent ideology or accept it. That is the choice they have to make now.” [Twitter]

DASH Says All Riders Must Wear Face Masks Starting Feb. 8 — “Effective Monday, February 8, passengers without a mask will not be permitted on any DASH bus. In accordance with federal law, all passengers are required to wear a face mask that covers both the nose and mouth while awaiting, boarding, traveling on or disembarking any DASH bus to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Passengers who refuse to wear a mask will not be permitted to board any DASH bus. If a passenger removes their mask after boarding, they will not be allowed to continue their trip and must disembark the bus as soon as safely possible. DASH maintains a supply of masks on every bus for passengers without masks who cannot delay their trip to obtain one. If a passenger does not have a mask, they are encouraged to ask the operator for one when boarding the bus.”

Mayor Tours Shuttered Power Plant Before Community Meeting — “Next week (the 11th), the new owner of the former power-plant site on Alexandria’s northern waterfront will be holding a community meeting to discuss redevelopment plans. I had an opportunity to walk the site and discuss the future of this important location.” [Twitter]

City Says Essential Workers Should Pre-Register for Vaccine Waitlist — “Individuals in the Phase 1b frontline essential worker categories should pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine waitlist by filling out this form. Those who have already completed the form should not fill it out again. Duplicates require additional staff time to clean and sort, and will not result in faster vaccination. AHD is simultaneously vaccinating those who are ages 65 and older and Phase 1b frontline essential workers.” [City of Alexandria]

Fish Market Gets Help from Barstool Fund — “The Fish Market, a family-owned business restaurant and raw bar in a centuries-old building, has been in business on lower King Street for 45 years. After submitting a video to apply for the Barstool Fund, the restaurant was chosen as one of the small businesses to receive money to help keep it open.” [Patch]

City Wins Award for Carpenter’s Shelter Development — “The City has received the 2020 Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award for supporting the construction of The Bloom/Carpenter’s Shelter, an innovative project that co-locates 97 affordable housing units with a homeless shelter.” [Twitter]

Today’s Weather — “Sunny, along with a few afternoon clouds. High 48F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph… Cloudy with occasional rain after midnight. Low 37F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Professional Dog Walkers — “As a Dog Walker with Fur-Get Me Not you can expect flexible scheduling, paid training, 24/7 support from both our office staff as well as our on-call managers– and more. Most dog walks are between the hours of 10:00am and 4:00pm, typically on a recurring schedule Monday-Friday. We compensate at $8.75 per 25-minute visit, and offer two walks per hour to maximize your earning ability — and all of our walks are one-on-one so you can develop great relationships with the dogs on your route!” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Local Housing Alliance Says Rent Assistance is Underutilized — “It is estimated anywhere between 263,000 and 384,000 households are at risk of eviction in Virginia. NVAHA Executive Director Michelle Krocker said local governments have been so busy aiding that they have not been able to compute proper data, but she predicts thousands of tenants and landlords in Northern Virginia are missing out on funds meant for them.” [WUSA9]

Zebra Profiles Alexandria Gazette GoFundMe — “Ask any group of people in town about the historic Alexandria Gazette Packet, and voices will quickly rise up, volunteering things like “I used to deliver the Gazette”, “My dad delivered the Gazette on his bicycle in Rosemont”, “My birth was announced in the Gazette” or “I remember when they merged with the Port Packet back in the eighties.” [Zebra]

Metrobus Resumes Fares, but DASH Remains Free — “With other regional bus systems preparing to resume fare collection in early January, Alexandria’s DASH Bus will remain fare free.” [Patch]

Drive-In First Night Sells Out — “Usually a crowded street affair, First Night Alexandria was celebrated with two drive-in events instead because of the pandemic. And at a $60 admission charge, both the 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. events sold out.” [NBC4]

COVID-19 Cases Hit New High in Virginia — “Virginia and two of its five health regions hit new highs Saturday for average daily COVID-19 cases reported, the state wrapped up one of its worst weeks yet in terms of deaths from the virus, and test positivity rates are rising rapidly.” [Inside Nova]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Governor Ralph Northam and Virginia Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine were in Alexandria on Monday to help unveil a team of new zero emission DASH electric buses.

The new battery electric buses were so quiet that they could hardly be heard running during their unveiling outside City Hall. DASH has committed to having an electric-only fleet by 2035.

Northam congratulated Alexandria for being progressive, innovative and inclusive city.

“Alexandria and DASH are the first to commit to 100% zero-emission buses by 2035,” Northam said. “We believe in global warming, we believe in climate change, and we also believe the quicker we can wean ourselves from carbon the better we will be.”

Valentine said that the unveiling of the electric buses in Northern Virginia represents a critical step toward a cleaner, more sustainable future.

“Incorporating these buses into our transportation network will allow so many Virginians to have a reliable, safe and clean option for generations to come,” Valentine said.

Mayor Justin Wilson said that the vehicles will cut down on hundreds of tons of carbon and greenhouse gas emissions that are generated on Alexandria’s streets.

“This is a very exciting day. You can feel the electricity in the air,” Wilson quipped.

DASH CEO Josh Baker said that the day marks the beginning of the transit agency’s journey toward a zero emission fleet.

“This is a true testament to our community’s passion and commitment to environmental sustainability,” Baker said.

VIDEO: ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Alexandria Transit Company (DASH) is welcoming the future of cleaner and more sustainable transit at the unveiling of its new zero-emission buses. The event will introduce battery-electric buses to the DASH fleet making it a historic first for the agency, Alexandria and the Northern Virginia region. Who: Alexandria Transit Company and the City of Alexandria What: Electric Bus Unveiling Event Where: Market Square 301 King StWhen: October 19, 2020 | 12:30PM Agenda: 12:30 PM – 12:35 PM Welcome: Josh Baker 12:35 PM – 1:25 PM Remarks: ATC Board Chairman David Kaplan Mayor Justin Wilson Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine Governor Ralph Northam 1:25 PM – 1:30 PM Closing: Josh Baker 1:30 PM – 2:00 PM Unveiling and Interviews

Posted by The Zebra Press – GOOD News in Alexandria, VA on Monday, October 19, 2020

Photos by Eli Wilson

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Morning Notes

Beyer Wishes Speedy Recovery, Then Refutes Trump Tweet — “We continue to hope that the President is feeling well and will recover swiftly, but it must be pointed out that this is a bunch of nonsense. None of it is true.” [Twitter]

City Offering Free COVID Tests — “In partnership with our friends at @NeighborhoodHth the City will be hosting free COVID-19 testing events every week this month throughout our City.”  [Twitter]

DASH Adding Six Electric Buses — “The buses are manufactured by New Flyer of America and Proterra.  They are 40 feet in length and rely completely on battery power rather than gasoline.” [Zebra]

Commonwealth Avenue Improvements Proposed — “A portion of Commonwealth Avenue in the Rosemont area is scheduled to be repaved in 2021, and the city is seeking feedback on improvements that could go along with it.” [Patch]

Walk to Bust Breast Cancer Goes Virtual — “This month you may notices some painted angel wings around Alexandria. These wings are part of the National Breast Center Foundation’s new Angel Wing Challenge associated with the annual Walk to Bust Breast Cancer, which looks a little different this year.” [Alexandria Living]

Recreation Centers Providing Childcare for Essential Workers — “There are currently 250 students enrolled in the full-day program at no cost to families. Many of these children have parents who are essential workers.” [Zebra]

Today’s Weather — “Mainly sunny (during the day). High 73F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Clear skies (at night). Low near 55F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Marketing Communications Specialist — “To be successful in this position, the Marketing Communications Specialist must demonstrate strong persuasive writing skills, strong digital layout design skills and be an overall expert in digital and social media marketing.” [Indeed]

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DASH increased their services today to 80% of its pre-pandemic service levels, and several of its routes have gone back to their regular routes.

The city’s transit service is currently seeing 35% ridership, according to Whitney Code, DASH’s marketing and communications manager.

“Of course we want to keep up with ridership and passenger loads, and as Virginia and the rest of the country opens up, we will continue to see increased ridership,” Code told ALXnow. “We want to make sure that we’re scheduling our people responsibly, and we want to make sure that we’re paying attention to the trends of other regional partners that we work with, like Metrobus and the Fairfax Connector.”

The move follows the Arlington and Fairfax bus lines resuming full service in late August.

Trips are still free for passengers, and drivers have extra face masks to give away.

“We have a limited supply of face masks that we can give our riders if they board our buses and don’t have them,” Code said. “DASH is continuing to take the coronavirus seriously and we are continuing to take the health of our customers and employees seriously.”

The King Street Trolley, which takes customers from the King Street Metro station to the waterfront, remains  suspended until further notice.

According to DASH:

  • The AT1 Plus, AT2, AT3/4, AT5, AT7, AT8, AT9, & AT10 will return to regular service.
  • The AT2XAT3AT4 and AT6 will operate on modified weekday schedules due to continued low ridership.

DASH will increase service levels to approximately 80% of pre-COVID service beginning tomorrow. https://www.dashbus.com/modifiedweekday

Posted by DASHBus on Monday, September 14, 2020

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In an update to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, Alexandria bus service DASH said it will resuming increased increased levels of service starting on Sunday, Sept. 13.

“DASH will increase service levels in Alexandria to approximately 80% of pre-COVID service on September 13,” the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission said in materials for an upcoming meeting. “Weekday service will be restored on several routes and limited service will resume on most routes that were discontinued in March.”

The move follows the Arlington and Fairfax bus lines resuming full service in late August.

DASH, which saw decreased levels of ridership early in the pandemic, had scaled down its operations in March. While service was reduced, the bus system did institute some new, long-awaited improvements like a bus tracking app in July.

The next meeting for DASH is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 5:30 p.m. Public comment is allowed after completing a short form.

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Morning Notes

Beyer Blasts Trump Position on Children and Coronavirus — “Trump does not care that nearly 100,000 American children got sick in two weeks. He has no plan to make schools safe or prevent much larger infections among students and educators.” [Twitter]

City Launches Coronavirus Text Line for Latino Residents — “The resource text line will provide Spanish speaking subscribers with information that is important to them and their families about COVID-19 and keep them up to date about jobs, job training, housing and rental assistance, food assistance, child care, and mental health.” [LocalDMV.com]

Senior Virtual Job Fair on Thursday — “Individuals who are 55 and over, unemployed and looking for work may be eligible for a stipend while training, job searching and skill building. Attendance is free, but participants must register to attend.” [City of Alexandria]

DASH Conducting Coronavirus Ridership Survey — “Last chance to share your COVID-19 transit experience before our survey closes! Take the COVID-19 Ridership Survey today to help us keep moving forward.”[DASH]

Today’s Weather — “Intervals of clouds and sunshine. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 92F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Finance Manager — “Successful auto dealership looking for positive and motivated individuals to join its team as a finance manager.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Virginia Launches Coronavirus Tracing App — “Virginia is the first state in the nation to launch such an app. It is based on Bluetooth Low Energy technology jointly developed by Apple and Google (Android). Users can download the app from their mobile phone’s app store now. The more people who download and use the app, the more effective it will be in helping reduce the possibility for COVID-19 transmission.” [Alexandria Living]

Beyer Scolds RNC for Trump Candidacy Announcement — Would be an illegal use of taxpayer funds and government property, and one of the most corrupt acts of the Trump era to date. A statement of what their party stands for now?” [Twitter]

Torpedo Factory Opens New Interactive Show — “Melanie Kehoss designed ‘Through the Kitchen Door’ with the idea that her audience would be central to her work. It involves six household scenes from 1790 to the present that viewers can walk through to get a real sense of how America’s history has evolved.” [Zebra]

DASH Reminds Riders to Wear Face Masks — “Masks are required in Virginia, including on DASH buses. #MaskUp to help us protect our operators, riders and community from COVID-19.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Isolated thunderstorms this evening becoming more widespread overnight. Low 71F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 100%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Account Executive — “CareClix, a Northern Virginia based company and the world leader in the Telemedicine Space is seeking a few select individuals to join our Resellers and Independent Account Executive salesforce. Successful candidates in this position can expect first year commissions of lower middle to high six figures.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Del Ray First Thursday Porch Party Today — “The Del Ray Business Association presents First Thursday Porch Party: Red, White, and Blue from 6 p.m. to dusk on Thursday, July 2. In the spirit of Del Ray’s summer street festivals, the event features a wide range of activities that promote community while maintaining social distancing standards.” [Facebook]

Major Residential Development Breaks Ground — “About 300 residences and a large parking garage are replacing an old office building in Alexandria’s West End.” [Alexandria Living]

DASH Bus Mobile Tracker Launches — “The new mobile-friendly DASH Tracker is finally here with new features and improved information to make finding your next bus a snap! Where will you go with the new DASH Tracker?” [Facebook]

Al’s Steak House Won’t Have Indoor Seating — “As we enter Phase 3 Al’s will continue not to have indoor seating available. Our space is too small to accommodate customers dining in and customers picking up their orders.The social distancing would be non existent. We do offer two tables for outdoor seating. Al’s will continue to accept call in orders and Delivery.” [Facebook]

Rebuilding Together Alexandria Slowly Getting Back on Track — “Our team was looking for a socially-distant project to get us out of the office and back into the community. We mulched the grounds of local nonprofit, Friends of Guest House. Check out the before and after!” [Facebook]

Mason & Greens Grand Opening Moved Online — “When news about the coronavirus began to spread, the Marinos knew they would have to cancel their big grand opening event.” [Alexandria Living]

Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden Open House Saturday — “Explore the history in your own backyard with free, self-guided tours of the Lee-Fendall House on July 4th! Face masks are required and we will be limiting the number of visitors allowed in the museum at one time to allow for social distancing.” [Facebook]

New Job: Host or Hostess — “Looking for an energetic individual to control the flow of the dining rooms, and be the first happy face guests see when entering Village Brauhaus.” [Facebook]
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