Retailers Blame Metro for Drop in Business

Metro says weekend track work is on schedule

Tuesday, Sep 8, 2009  |  Updated 8:10 AM EDT
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Retailers Blame Metro for Drop in Business

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Metro's holiday weekend closures may not be causing too many travel nightmares, but some retailers seem to be suffering.

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WASHINGTON -- Metro said its track work on the Blue and Yellow lines this weekend is proceeding on schedule.

The three stations that have been closed for the overhaul are expected to open on time Tuesday -- at 5 a.m.

The Reagan National Airport, Pentagon City and Crystal City stations have been closed all weekend. Track workers are replacing switches, 2,000 feet of rail and more than 700 ties. They're also installing cable for better cell phone service and making other upgrades.

The Reagan closure in particular upset many, as travelers tried to get away for the summer's last holiday weekend.

Airport authority officials said this holiday weekend isn't especially busy for air travel, Metro said. The transit agency chose this weekend to save $1 million in late-night maintenance and 150 days of single-tracking.

Labor Day usually is a low ridership day, according to Metro. Last year, only about 227,000 people rode Metro on Labor Day.

There has been little demand for service to National Airport so far, according to Metro.

"Word didn't get out as early as it should have," Metro Board Member Chris Zimmerman told WAMU from the finish line of the eighth annual 9/11 Memorial 5K race, which cuts right through the affected area of Arlington, Va. "But I think at this point people understand."

But while travel nightmares seem to be at a minimum, some retailers are suffering. Employees of stores at The Fashion Centre in Pentagon City, which is right above one of the closed stations, did see a significant drop in customers, WAMU reported.

Metro operated free shuttle buses to help riders get around the closed stations. Through Sunday, more than 48,000 people used the shuttle buses.

Metro employees and transit police guided customers to the shuttles. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police officers offered assistance at National.
 

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