ALEXANDRIA, Va. (FOX 5 DC) — The summer shutdown continues at several stations on the blue and yellow Metro lines south of Reagan National Airport.
Recently, a survey came out showing that as many as one-in-four businesses are losing money due to the loss of riders, most of them in the popular Old Town area.
Old Town is a popular summer hang out spot and the survey, conducted by the Chamber of Commerce and others, showed while businesses close to the water were even or ahead of last year, ones within walking distance from the Metro say they are more concerned about their bottom line.
“The Metro is a huge asset to the region and to Alexandria. You cant close the Metro without it having some impact. So, not surprisingly, the businesses closest to Metro were most affected,” said Tom Kaiden.
Since Memorial Day weekend, construction work has taken over the tracks and Metro riders using the King Street-Old Town station have had to wait in line to take a bus instead. It’s one of six Metro stations along the blue and yellow lines south of the airport closed until Labor Day.
“Even when I look down the street and don’t see anybody walking, I get chills,” said David Martin.
David Martin's jewelry store Gold Works has lasted for 32 years on upper King Street but he says ever since the summer shutdown sales have been down as much as 30 percent.
A manager at Hard Times Café next door says the same thing.
“We are missing all the tourists, nobody is walking in to make incidental purchases,” said Martin.
Tom Kaiden with Visit Alexandria says a survey of 150 businesses shows around four in 10 are losing money because of the Metro shut down.
To help mitigate impacts, the city has offered free trolley rides, part of their proactive plan started in January.
“The big issue for us was to make sure folks knew easily how to get back and forth from Alexandria, the airport and D.C. and we also wanted to make sure regional residents knew that Alexandria was thriving and ready to welcome them with events and discounted night and evening weekend parking, so, fortunately, those things seem to be working,” said Kaiden.
“The early read is that on average business is down zero to five percent this year, that’s considerably better than we had anticipated based on some early research,” he continued. “The stations were in need of repair. Alexandria is the first of a series of areas that will undergo improvements over the next several years. So if we are pioneering this process. There will probably be elements of learning for other communities in the metro system in the upcoming years.”
Meanwhile, Martin says he's taking out a microloan to hold him over.
Work is still on schedule to be done by Labor Day.