Nearly a year after Metro’s “SafeTrack” maintenance blitz wrapped up, Arlingtonians still haven’t returned to the transit system, new data show.
An ARLnow analysis of figures compiled by WMATA and released to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission shows that ridership at Arlington’s 11 Metro stations fell by about 4.1 percent in the first three months of 2018 when compared to the same time frame last year.
Back in early 2017, WMATA was right in the midst of SafeTrack, with large sections of Metro lines closed temporarily and substantial headways for passengers, even at rush hour. But the ridership numbers suggest that any Arlington riders dissuaded from hopping on Metro during the heavy maintenance work have yet to embrace the rail service once more.
ARLnow’s analysis also shows Metro ridership in the county has dropped by about 13.4 percent compared to the same time frame in 2016, before SafeTrack work began.
Metro officials and county leaders say they’re not overly disturbed by these numbers, noting that WMATA ridership as a whole only fell by 1 percent when comparing the first three months of this year to 2017. Yet they also acknowledge that other transportation options are steadily luring riders away from Metro, and that these declining ridership numbers may be a symptom of problems in the county beyond WMATA’s woes.
“This really indicates how our transportation network is being disrupted in ways not just associated with Metro,” said Christian Dorsey, the vice chair of the Arlington County Board and a member of the Metro Board of Directors, while adding that “we’re not going to overreact to the numbers we see in one quarter.”
Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly wrote in an email that ridership in Arlington generally “reflects the ridership trends systemwide.” She says Metro has broadly found that “peak periods are performing less poorly, however off-peak (especially evening) ridership is down much more steeply,” after SafeTrack.
WMATA leaders “are confident that by providing safe, reliable service, Metro can win back riders who may have changed their travel patterns during SafeTrack,” Ly added. Yet she did acknowledge that a handful of different factors have prompted large ridership drops at several Arlington stations this year.
Metro observed one of the largest declines in riders at the Ballston station in the first three months of the year, with a more than 8 percent decline from the same period last year. Ballston also recorded a nearly 20 percent drop in ridership from 2016 to 2018, the largest of any Arlington station over the same time period.
Ly believes that’s largely due to ridership dropping on weekends, “when service is truncated from Wiehle-Reston East to Ballston for track work,” a frequent occurrence for Silver Line riders.
Along the Blue Line, however, there could be more systemic problems.
Sexual Assault Suspect Was Maintenance Worker — The man arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a woman in her apartment in Rosslyn last year worked as a maintenance worker for an apartment building in D.C. Police say he posed as a maintenance worker in the Rosslyn building to get the victim to open her door, before forcing his way into the apartment. [NBC Washington]
New Uber Pickup at DCA — “If you are planning to take an Uber, Lyft or other ride-share service from Reagan National Airport, you’ll need to head to a new spot to be picked up. Airport officials have moved the pick up zone to the ticketing level (upstairs) at Terminals B and C.” [Washington Post]
Spotted: M.J. Stewart at NFL Combine — Former Yorktown football star M.J. Stewart, who was also a standout defensive back at the University of North Carolina, was among those working out at the NFL Scouting Combine over the past week. [Twitter]
Rosslyn Hyatt Sold — The Hyatt Centric hotel in Rosslyn has been sold to a subsidiary of publicly-traded hotel operator Sotherly Hotels for $79.7 million. The hotel was recently renovated. [Seeking Alpha]
LiveSafe Helping to Keep SXSW Safe — The South by Southwest festival is utilizing the mobile safety app produced by Arlington-based LiveSafe to help with event security this year. SXSW kicks off on Friday in Austin, Texas. [DC Inno]
Nearby: Alexandria Residents Oppose Beer Garden — “Residents of a townhouse development next to a proposed beer garden in Del Ray are opposing the business, saying it will create ‘noise and safety issues’ and ‘negatively affect our community.'” [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Duluoz Me
The woman was driving a male passenger in the Bluemont area early Sunday morning when the man touched her inappropriately and then got out of the car and fled on foot.
More on the incident and the suspect from Monday’s daily ACPD crime report:
SEXUAL BATTERY, 2017-09240025, 5200 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 1:12 a.m. on September 24, police were dispatched to the report of a sexual assault that had just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that while operating as a rideshare driver, the female victim was inappropriately touched by a male passenger. Following the assault, the male suspect exited the vehicle and fled the scene on foot in an unknown direction. Officers canvassed the area with negative results. The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 5’7-5’8 tall with a thin build. He has blonde hair, a red beard and was last seen wearing a white shirt and light colored shorts. The investigation is ongoing.
(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) Arlington County Police are investigating an indecent exposure incident that happened in a rideshare vehicle Thursday morning.
A man exposed himself and masturbated during the “pool” ride, in view of a female passenger, around 9 a.m., according to an ACPD crime report. It was not immediately clear with which ride-hailing service the vehicle was associated; scanner traffic referred to it as both an Uber and a Lyft ride.
The driver stopped near the intersection of Lee Highway and Spout Run Parkway, and police were called, after the female passenger witnessed the suspect in the act. After the ride stopped the male passenger then got out of the car and fled the scene, police say.
The suspect is described as an Asian man “in his mid-20’s, with a partially grown out buzz cut, wearing a black t-shirt, dark blue shorts, with a black backpack.” Police searched the area but were unable to find him.
“The investigation is ongoing,” police said.
Advanced Towing Lobbied Hard for Bill — Advanced Towing spent $10,000 on lobbyists and made a $1,500 donation to state Sen. Barbara Favola while successfully pushing for a state bill to override Arlington’s second-signature towing requirement. Supporters of the bill say it passed and McAuliffe ultimately signed it because it had the support of the business community. Advanced is one of the largest towing companies in Northern Virginia and has drawn the ire of many local residents for its ruthless efficiency at trespass towing from private lots. [NBC Washington]
Russian Military Jet Flies Over Arlington — Yesterday an unarmed Russian military jet flew over the Pentagon, CIA headquarters, and the U.S. Capitol “as part of a longstanding treaty that allows the militaries of the United States and Russia to observe the other from the air.” [CNN, Axios]
Arlington Still Hiring Teachers — Arlington Public Schools is still hiring teachers for the upcoming school year. “A total of 280 full- and part-time contract positions were unfilled as of Aug. 1… as the school system continues to process applicants,” the Sun Gazette reported. [InsideNova]
Uber, Lyft Make Mark on Local Restaurant Biz — Although readers were skeptical in a poll late last year, the Washington City Paper reports that Uber and Lyft are having a significant impact on the local restaurant industry, drawing customers from a wider area geographically than would have visited before the ride hailing services existed. It’s also bringing more customers to hot non-Metro-accessible restaurants. And it’s not just hipster-y D.C. restaurants drawing customers from around the region: Lyft said Clarendon’s Don Tito was its most visited bar in the D.C. area in 2016. [Washington City Paper]
A new report says Arlington County should use ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to supplement under-performing ART bus routes and better connect residents with Metro stations.
Graduate students at George Mason University’s Schar School of Government and Policy compiled strategies to improve transit in the county, and concluded that using ride-hailing is one way to do so.
The report says the current fixed ART bus system is a disadvantage to some areas that are highly populated due to overcrowding, while there are service gaps for areas that are less densely populated. Based on their research, the ART 41 route from Columbia Pike to Courthouse is the busiest, while the 53, 62, 74 and 92 are all underused and failed to recoup much of their operating costs through fares.
The solution of using the likes of Uber and Lyft to supplement buses on routes that are underutilized is based on a similar program in Pinellas County, Florida called Direct Connect. Through the program, the county pays for half of a commuter’s Uber fare if it begins and ends at certain points and stays within a specific area.
A similar partnership can improve connections to the county’s Metro stations, GMU students concluded. While the report gives Arlington credit for the use of car- and bike-sharing with the likes of Capital Bikeshare and Car2Go, it says partnering with ride-hailing companies could be helpful for those who right now struggle to integrate Metro into their commutes.
“Mobile networks play a vital role in day-to-day life and real-time tracking of services has become a necessity for busy commuters,” the report says. “Developing this tool as a mobile application would create greater convenience for commuters.”
The report also said that the county could benefit from talking to the community. It suggests facilitating a two-way dialogue between riders and county staff, and using strategies like surveying riders at Metro stations and other major transit hubs.
“Arlington County, if it were to embrace advances in information technology and extend its history of community engagement even further, could implement cost-effective yet innovative transportation solutions in its neighborhoods,” the report says.
Gutshall Running for County Board — As predicted, business owner Erik Gutshall is running for County Board this year, seeking the seat being vacated by Jay Fisette. Gutshall says on his website that his candidacy will be announced at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting on Wednesday. Gutshall unsuccessfully challenged County Board member Libby Garvey in last year’s Democratic primary. [Erik Gutshall for County Board]
Oscars Flub Involved W-L Grad — Warren Beatty is back atop the national consciousness, after an envelope mix-up led to perhaps the worst mistake in Oscars history, with Beatty and Best Picture co-presenter Faye Dunaway at the center of the fiasco. As many long-time Arlingtonians remember, Beatty spent his teenage years in Arlington, reportedly living on N. Huntington Street. He graduated from Washington-Lee High School and, as noted in a yearbook photo, was a star football player and the senior class president. [InsideNova]
Arlington Elementary Schools Top Rankings — In new rankings of D.C. area public elementary schools, Arlington elementary schools tallied a sweep of all the top 10 spots. [Niche, Washington Business Journal]
ACPD Trying Out Uber Lane — This past weekend in Clarendon, the Arlington County Police Department set up a designated rideshare pickup lane to improve safety for those using Uber and Lyft to get a ride home from the bars. The police department described the action as a “pilot program” that was the result of “creative problem solving.” [Twitter]
Arlington’s ‘Segregation Wall’ — A new historic marker notes the significance of a 1930s-era wall in north Arlington. The wall was built by white residents of the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood to provide a physical barrier between them and the historically black Hall’s Hill (High View Park) neighborhood. [InsideNova]
Loan for Affordable Apartments Approved — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $7.4 million loan to help build 125 new affordable apartments at the Berkeley on S. Glebe Road. Nonprofit developer AHC is expected to seek another loan for the redevelopment, from the county’s affordable housing fund, next fiscal year. [Arlington County]
Per-Student Spending to Rise — Under a new budget proposed by Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy, per-student spending would rise 2.9 percent to $19,521. APS has been straining to keep up with rising enrollment, issuing bonds to build new schools and renovate others. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Police say the incident happened around 7:40 p.m. on the 2700 block of Clarendon Blvd, near the Whole Foods store.
“The victim was a rideshare driver and, following a verbal altercation over the phone regarding the pickup location of the fare, the suspect assaulted the driver,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
More from this week’s ACPD crime report:
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2017-02110254, 2700 block of Clarendon Boulevard. At approximately 7:40 p.m. on February 11, officers responded to the report of a fight in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that a male victim rolled down the window of his vehicle to speak to the male suspect, when the suspect began assaulting the victim through the driver side window. The suspect then fled the scene on foot. Medics arrived on scene and treated the victim. Warrants have been obtained for malicious wounding. The investigation is ongoing.
The rest of the past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.
A temporary staging area meant for the drivers of Transportation Network Companies — like Uber and Lyft — headed to Reagan National is causing some confusion and traffic headaches in Crystal City.
Some residents have complained about the airport’s “TNC waiting area” at 26th Street and Crystal Drive. Reagan National recently designated the area as a place for drivers to park while it puts the finishing touches on a new lot, according to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs.
Dozens of Uber and Lyft drivers were spotted idling, parking and honking their horns in the area when an ARLnow reporter visited earlier this morning.
Although the waiting area is only slated to remain in use until March, it has upset some locals. Peeved residents have taken to Twitter to complain about drivers creating traffic jams and dangerous situations.
In response, the airport has created an entrance and exit in the lot to “reduce the likelihood of bottlenecks,” increased police patrols “to ensure that TNC drivers are not causing backups,” and has started closing the the lot when it is full “to mitigate unnecessary congestion,” Gibbs said.
Additionally, the airport has asked residents to report parking complaints by calling the Airports Authority Police at 703-417-2400.
Taxi drivers already have a place at the airport to queue up, but that lot is often completely full with cabs.
— Kara Westercamp (@KaraWestercamp) January 6, 2017
— MWAA (@dcairports) January 7, 2017
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) January 7, 2017
Even though Arlington doesn’t have any large, centrally-located New Year’s Eve celebration — like New York City’s ball drop in Times Square — local police are getting ready for a busier than usual night on Saturday.
Scanner traffic indicates that today officers are stopping at businesses that are holding celebrations tomorrow night. Police are doing preemptive safety checks, asking management about things like how many people each business expects for its celebration and how many employees or additional security staff will be present.
There are no known, specific threats to public safety in Arlington, according to police spokesman Capt. Bruce Benson, but ACPD will have extra officers in the Clarendon area on Saturday evening. Extra officers will also be on duty throughout the county to patrol for drunk drivers.
“We really want everyone to enjoy the New Year celebration in Arlington,” says Benson. “We certainly have some great restaurants and bars and invite everyone to take advantage of them, but we also ask everyone to be responsible and get home safely. There is no excuse to drive drunk.”
Police encourage everyone to pay attention to the message of the half-police cruiser, half-taxi Chooser Cruiser, currently stationed in Clarendon: Take advantage of the many safe options available for post-party transportation or you might find yourself in the back of a police car. Some options include using a designated driver, a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft, the free SoberRide taxi program (1-800-200-TAXI), and the free Metrorail and Metrobus rides after midnight Saturday.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) December 30, 2016
County Backtracks on Uber Story — Arlington County is in the early stages of considering a plan to replace low-ridership ART service with some sort of partnership with ridesharing services, like Uber. However, the county is backtracking on an official’s statement that the service would be subsidized. “A recent press account quoted a County staff person as saying, incorrectly, that we will be subsidizing this service,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. “No such decision has been made at this preliminary stage of analysis.” [Arlington County]
Advisory Group: Change Name of Jeff Davis Highway — An advisory group appointed by the City of Alexandria has recommended changing the name of Jefferson Davis Highway. Alexandria’s “Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Confederate Memorials and Street Names” says the Confederate president’s name should be removed from Route 1 in the city. [Patch]
Ultimate Frisbee Vote — Arlington Public Schools is now the first school system in Virginia to make ultimate frisbee an official school sport. The Arlington School Board voted Thursday night to implement ultimate as a sport in middle and high schools, on an initial countywide budget of $90,000. [WTOP]
New ART Bus Route Launching Monday — The new ART 54 bus route will begin serving Dominion Hills, Madison Manor and East Falls Church on Monday. The new bus will run every 24 minutes on weekdays, during the morning and evening rush hours. [Arlington Transit]
Medicine Dispensing Exercise — Arlington residents are being encouraged to participate in the county health department’s mass medication dispensing exercise on Saturday. Volunteers are needed to form a crowd seeking medication (the county will be dispensing two types of candy during the exercise.) [ARLnow]
United Bank Purchasing Cardinal Bank — Two regional banks are coming together to form what may be the “most dominant community bank” in the D.C. area. United Bank, which has four Arlington branches, is purchasing Cardinal Bank, which has five Arlington branches. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
County Considering Rideshare Subsidies — Arlington County is studying a plan that would subsidize rides on Uber and Lyft for residents who live in “more remote residential areas of the county where bus service to Metro stations is limited.” The plan, if implemented, would “replace some fixed bus service in north Arlington.” [Washington Post]
APS SOL Results — The results of the Virginia Standards of Learning tests are out. In response, Arlington Public Schools released a press release with the title “APS Continues to Make Progress in Closing the Achievement Gap.” It says: “In 2016, the APS met or exceeded the state passing rates on 28 of 29 assessments, across all grade levels and subjects. APS exceeded the state passing rates by 5 to 13 percentage points on 16 of the assessments.” [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova, Washington Post]
APS Doesn’t Make Newsweek List — Updated at 2:05 p.m. — Newsweek is out with its annual list of the top 500 public high schools in the country, and no Arlington public school made the list. In fact, only four Virginia high schools made the list. In 2010, every APS high school was on the list. APS says it has not been submitting stats to Newsweek over the past few years. [Newsweek]
Boxing Coming to Arlington This Weekend — A nine-card boxing bout will take place at the Crystal City Hilton hotel Friday night. [Fight News]
ACPD Wreath-Laying Ceremony at ANC — Arlington County Police brass laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday. [Instagram]
Lost Dog On the Pike — A woman is trying to find her lost chihuahua, which was last seen near the intersection of Glebe Road and 9th Street S., near Columbia Pike. [Twitter]
A two-vehicle crash toppled over a streetlight and an attached traffic signal in Pentagon City today.
The wreck happened around noon, at the intersection of Army Navy Drive and S. Hayes Street, near the Pentagon City mall.
The exact circumstances of the crash were unclear, but one of the vehicles, an SUV, suffered seemingly minor front end damage while the second vehicle, a sedan with an Uber sticker in the window, suffered heavier damage. The damage to the sedan included a windshield apparently smashed by the light pole.
No injuries were reported. One travel lane on both Hayes and Army Navy, as well as part of the sidewalk, was blocked while crews worked to turn off power to the damaged pole and clean up the damage.
Hungry Arlington residents and workers can now use the UberEATS app to order food from local restaurants. Users can order off the full restaurant menu, rather than having to choose between a few select items.
“Uber is partnering with over a dozen restaurants in the Arlington area and working to add more every week,” said Uber spokeswoman Kaitlin Durkosh. “Depending on your location, you can also order from restaurants in D.C., too.”
The service is offered from 9 a.m. to midnight daily and, Uber claims, can deliver food in as little as 10 minutes. There’s a flat $4.99 delivery fee, plus the cost of the food.
The bad news is that there’s a limited delivery area. The Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, plus Pentagon City and Crystal City, are included. Some western, northern and southern portions of Arlington, including East Falls Church, Shirlington and Fairlington, are excluded. (See map, above.)
Uber announced the Arlington expansion of UberEATS in a blog post Thursday.
The incident happened just before 11 p.m. on Washington Blvd near Columbia Pike. It started, police say, after the driver picked up six passengers, then later noticed that they were drinking alcohol from open containers inside the vehicle.
“The driver could smell alcohol,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
The driver asked the passengers to stop drinking; when they refused, the driver pulled over to the side of the road near an I-395 on-ramp and “terminated the fare,” forcing all six to get out, according to Savage.
A verbal confrontation ensued. At one point, three of the passengers — all 20-something men from Woodbridge, Va. — approached the vehicle again to retrieve property they had left inside, Savage said. At that point, one of the men punched and shattered a passenger-side window, and another man struck the driver in the face with a beer bottle, police allege.
The men also allegedly tried to take the keys out of the vehicle ignition, breaking them in the process.
The three men then split with the other three passengers and walked away, Savage said. Police, working with the driver and witnesses, obtained a description of the men. A short time later, police officer on scene noticed three men in an approaching taxicab. The officer pulled over the cab, identified the men and took them into custody.
“Justin Allen Norconk, 26, of Woodbridge VA, was arrested and charged with malicious wounding and assault by mob,” according to an ACPD crime report.” Lance Daniel Ingram, 25, of Woodbridge VA, was arrested and charged with assault by mob. Jeffery Eugene Rowe Jr., 26, of Woodbridge VA, was arrested and charged with destruction of property. All three suspects are being held without bond.”
The Uber driver was treated on scene for cuts to his face.
Update at 6:05 p.m. — Uber says the two riders who split the fare for the ride have been deactivated from the platform pending an investigation. “We’ve been in touch with the driver-partner and stand ready to assist the authorities with their investigation,” said a spokeswoman.
“We are deeply committed to the safety of drivers on the Uber platform,” the company said. “Drivers benefit from many of the same transparency and accountability features that riders do, such as providing feedback and ratings for every trip, which deter bad behavior from passengers.”