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Council Approves Trolley Route Serving Del Ray and Arlandria

Motorized trolley will use Commonwealth Avenue and Braddock Road to reach Braddock Road Metro station as opposed to initial recommendation of West Street.

Trolley service will make its way to Del Ray and Arlandria beginning this fall.

On Wednesday night at , Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a route that will send free, motorized trolley buses from King Street Metro north along Commonwealth Avenue, then turn right on Braddock Road and stop at Braddock Road Metro station. The trolley will then track back to Mt. Vernon Avenue, run north, make a left turn onto W. Glebe Road, right onto Russell Road and right back onto Mt. Vernon Avenue to return. 

The first recommended route, initially released in March, terminated at W. Reed Avenue, short of the heart of Arlandria. At the time, members of . Councilmembers agreed in April and so staff could examine sending it into Arlandria.

On Wednesday, city staff recommended sending the trolley down West Street to Braddock Metro in what they strategized would be a cheaper route with more reliable headways.

Council moved to send it down Commonwealth Avenue instead.

Councilmembers argued that trolley service to Del Ray and Arlandria should be more focused on resident usage as opposed to use by tourists. They also said that headways shouldn’t be the driving factor in determining the route.

 was on serving tourists who wanted an easy way to reach attractions and restaurants on Mt. Vernon Avenue.

“I see this as a very different kind of trolley service [than the King Street Trolley],” Councilman Paul Smedberg said. “You look at what’s between and it’s different.”

With a route selected, the city will start the process of selecting a contractor to provide and operate motorized trolleys on Mt. Vernon Avenue. The city owns the trolleys on the King Street line, which is operated by DASH. Different trolley buses will be used on the new line.

Councilman Rob Krupicka asked that city staff look into securing hybrid trolleys for this route to cut down on noise.

Alexandria Department of Transportation and Environmental Services chief Rich Baier said contracting hybrid buses is a possibility, but that he want to be mindful of the budget.

According to a city memo, the estimated annual cost of a route utilizing Commonwealth but not stopping at Braddock Metro is $850,000 annually. T&ES Deputy Director Abi Lerner said taking the trolley down Commonwealth and stopping at Braddock Metro will potentially increase headways, be cause to run another trolley on the route and add as much as $150,000 to the annual cost.

Funding will come from the city’s Transportation Improvement Program, which was established as part of the fiscal year 2012 budget when council dedicated 2.2 cents of the real estate property tax rate for transportation projects.  

The city will monitor and measure ridership and other impacts of the trolley service, including its impact on DASH and local businesses.

Service is expected to begin in November. The trolley will operate on Thursdays and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Staff will try to utilize existing bus stops for the trolley service and install new signage.

The name of the line, which was the subject of some debate, will be “The Del Ray/Arlandria Trolley.” Councilmembers asked that Rosemont and other locations serviced by the trolley be mentioned on its exterior.

“Just wrap a banner around it that says this trolley will take you anywhere in the city,” Vice Mayor Kerry Donley joked.

Joseph M. June 16, 2012 at 01:42 AM
[sorry for the three comments in a row] If I can do these back-of-the-envelope calculations in about ten minutes, why didn't City staff? My guess is the City staff did in fact do such analysis (at least informally) but didn’t publish them because the Council wanted the Trolley - facts be damned. After all, the Staff developed several alternatives, trying to preserve proper headways of 20 minutes or less while staying within the budget of $700,000 roughly allocated by the Council. And what did the Council do, but come up with their own route during the Council meeting. How backwards is this? "On Wednesday, city staff recommended sending the trolley down West Street to Braddock Metro in what they strategized would be a cheaper route with more reliable headways. Council moved to send it down Commonwealth Avenue instead. Councilmembers argued that trolley service to Del Ray and Arlandria should be more focused on resident usage as opposed to use by tourists. They also said that headways shouldn’t be the driving factor in determining the route." What is the point of a transportation planning department if the Council won't listen to them?
Richard Nelson June 16, 2012 at 01:59 PM
I thought the trolley was supposed to be for tourists first and then residents and not the other way around. We have good metro and dash service and the trolley would have provided more incentive for others to use public transportation. So I look at my neighbors in Del Ray and to the north in Arlandria and we can all tell Council that their idea of sending it down Commonwealth and to the Braddock Road Metro is a deal killer. There are no incentives for me to travel from Kennedy to visit Hard Times Cafe, Rockit Grill, and other places in the evening by a trolley as it will only drop me off at the metro station so I will continue to drive. Council's route does not provide a good connection between Del Ray and Old Town but just kills the route and any good potential headways. I doubt any Council member rides public transportation or even understand it. This is all politics and when politics gets in the way of analysis and logical thinking it is a disaster waiting to happen. As a resident I want to thank staff for their hard work and trying to bring some efficient trolley service to our neighborhood and I hate to say this but more in the lines of Arlington and DC which are great public transportation cities but politics rules our town. So when the new business come up in Parker Gray do not complain about us driving there and taking your parking spaces.
Tom Welsh June 16, 2012 at 02:28 PM
What a farce. What a waste of money. The city could fund more deserving programs than a free ride through Del Ray
Pat June 16, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Yes! I agree.
Liz Davis June 16, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Completely agree with you,Tom.

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