Ballston to Get Commuter Store Kiosk

by ARLnow.com May 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm 3,436 15 Comments

The County Board voted unanimously last night to approve a Commuter Store kiosk outside the Ballston Metro Station.

The kiosk will be built next to the entrance to the station, at the corner of N. Stuart Street and N. Fairfax Drive. The store will provide “convenient, one-stop shopping for schedules, fares, and information about the many transportation options available in the Washington Metropolitan Area.”

Arlington has four stationary Commuter Stores and one mobile Commuter Store RV. The Ballston kiosk will replace an existing Commuter Store location inside Ballston Common Mall.

  • PhilL

    Wonder if they are letting the lease expire on the mall slot or are going to sublease it out to somebody, like they do with Woodmont Weavers/Ellipse Arts.

    • LyonSteve

      They had a store in the mall? I didn’t even know.

  • Commuter

    Instead of a Kiosk, Arlington should buy or lease the old and abandoned Ruby Tuesday’s Restaurant location at the Ballston Metro Station, clean it up, and make it nice like the Shilrington Metro Transit Center.

  • Vinh An Nguyen

    What do you know. And here I thought you could find “convenient, one-stop shopping for schedules, fares, and information about the many transportation options available in the Washington Metropolitan Area” online.

    • Take it down a notch

      Not everyone has a computer, or an internet connection.

      • Justin Russo

        That’s what the library is for.

        • dynaroo

          So consider this kiosk a small library.

          • Vinh An Nguyen

            I consider it a waste of money when the real library is just up the street.

    • Burger

      Or heaven forbid you ask a WMATA employee or do research prior to your trip.

      • Rick

        have you tried talking to a station manager? If they were nicer we wouldn’t need buildings like this

  • MC

    The concept is well-intentioned, and serves a purpose. Unfortunately, in my observation, it isn’t really working:

    1. Commuter Store locations are infrequently patronized. It is really obviously with the van, but I’ve seen the same at the Ballston and Roslyn locations.
    2. ART buses, the main institution this scheme is intended to promote, is woefully under-patronized, with many near-empty buses running.

    The biggest value to residents of the Commuter Store is supplying bus schedules for non-Arlington jurisdictions such as Fairfax, if you need to take public transit there. But few commuters need to go there to buy Metro cards, and few need to get Arlington bus schedules if they have lived here a while.

    I think these kiosks would be better to expand the range of information they distribute to include timely information about other Arlington events and places of interest to people working in or visiting Arlington, as well as residents. Maybe fold in the visitor information brochures, or events listing for the Signature theatre or the Artisphere. Stop calling them Commuter Stores and make them more “Visit Arlington” information centers.

  • Narlington

    What a waste of money, is that what the county leadership is all about wasting money?

    • Burger

      Um… yes.

  • Aaron

    When I briefly commuted to work by bus (the shortlived B11 experiment), I used the Commuter Store to get the discounted bulk-rate bus tokens. I’ve also used it to buy a weekly MARC pass when that’s been a requirement (so that I didn’t show up at Union Station trying to figure out the MARC ticket kiosk at oh-dark-thirty for the first time ever). I assume these niche uses can be met often enough to cover the ridiculously low rents that Ballston Common or the Rosslyn Metro Mall surely command.

    Where I see a real potential value to the community would be a better outreach to all the Metrobus commuters I see who don’t have or use SmartTrip cards and therefore aren’t getting the advantage of the SmartTrip discount on fares. To be honest, I don’t know where a SmartTrip card can be refilled other than at the gates of a Metrorail station. I would hope that the mobile Commuter Store, the store at Shirlington MTC, and this new kiosk at Ballston are capable of performing this elementary function.

    You don’t have to be a dewy-eyed liberal to see that there’s something inherently wrong in structuring a subsidy program whose convenience is tilted in favor of those most able to afford to pay full fare. The discount is a good way to gouge tourists, not the residents of the less-developed neighborhoods in our county who rely on bus transportation to get from point-to-point and aren’t just using it as an extension of the subway.

    • krissyarl

      i agree they’re useful for all those reasons, including being able to buy the smart trip card to start. it just makes sense to be able to buy a smart trip card that close the metro station, since you can’t buy one IN the metro station.

      fyi though, you can also refill your smart trip card on the bus themselves. (just have to have cash, not credit card, but it’s doable and easy.)


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