Alexandria is currently looking to expand trolley service outside of Old Town, with several proposed routes in Del Ray.
Abi Lerner of the city’s Department of Transportation and Environment Services briefed the Del Ray Citizens Association on Monday about some potential routes in Del Ray and Carlyle.
The motorized trolley currently runs free passenger service from King Street Metro station down to the waterfront along King Street.
Lerner identified four alternative routes under examination. The first would start at Braddock Road Metro station, move north on Mt. Vernon Avenue and then loop down Commonwealth Avenue by Cora Kelly School and back to Mt. Vernon along W. Reed Avenue.
A second alternative would start at Braddock Metro, run north into Del Ray and Arlandria on Mt. Vernon Avenue and finish with a loop on Four Mile Road, Old Dominion Boulevard and Executive Avenue before heading back south on Mt. Vernon.
Another proposed route would start at King Street Metro, head east on King Street then north on West Street to Braddock Metro. From there, the trolley would make its way up Mt. Vernon Avenue.
A proposed Carlyle route would begin at King Street Metro, snake down Jamieson Avenue to Eisenhower Avenue past Hoffman Center and terminate at the DMV on Mill Road.
City Council “is likely to give the recommendation to expand to Del Ray and not Carlyle,” Lerner said.
The city sees trolley expansion as an opportunity to encourage and increase the use of public transit and to connect commercial areas. Lerner said the trolley can also help with economic development and tourism.
According to statistics from the city, the Del Ray area contains about 105 more businesses than Carlyle and about seven more restaurants. Carlyle has two hotels while Del Ray has none.
Lerner said the service hours of the expanded routes would be about the same as the King Street trolley, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. The feasibility of expanding service hours of the new routes might be examined at a later date. The city has allocated about $510,000 to spend on geographic expansion of the trolley for fiscal year 2012, according to Lerner.
On Wednesday, the Waterfront Work Group discussed the possibility of transportation linkages between the Old Town waterfront, Del Ray and the King Street Metro as a long-term goal.
Work group member Bert Ely said he was troubled by the vagueness of the current language being discussed while Nate Macek, another work group member, said he didn’t think the idea “opens the barn door for street cars.”
The group debated whether to maintain the foot of King Street as a turnaround area for the trolleys and did not reach a firm conclusion. Some said they might recommend that the area be reserved as pedestrian-only.
They also discussed whether to increase the frequency of the King Street trolley again.
Ely expressed concern that the King Street trolley was taking away business from King Street merchants.
“I think the city should have a conversation with merchants [about the impact],” he said.
In the public comment period at the end of the waterfront meeting, King Street business owner David Martin, who said he has operated a store there for 23 years, said trolley riders are passing by stores that they may stop in if they were walking.
“I see packed standing room only,” he said, adding that the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association “loves it so much” but “what is it doing for the middle of the block people?”
He suggested that the trolley should stop more often, offering the opportunity for riders to get on and off and so be exposed to more stores nearby.
There are currently four motorized trolleys in operation on King Street. In January, the city will receive five diesel-electric trolleys through federal money.