Photo by afagen on Flickr.
Alexandria is getting 8 Capital Bikeshare stations, and they can’t come soon enough. Greater Greater Wife and I travel to Old Town moderately often, and the sad fact is that getting there and getting around without a car is far too difficult.
The Metro will get you to Braddock Road or King Street at the edge of Old Town, but most of the destinations in Old Town, including the person we usually visit, are just enough farther east that a walk will take a while.
The DASH buses, unfortunately, have not proven to be a really workable option. Mid-days, most of them run every 30 minutes. There is not yet any real-time tracking, and buses don’t hew precisely to the schedule.
That means you could get to a bus stop just about the time a bus is supposed to arrive, wait 12 minutes, and have no idea whether you’d just missed a slightly early bus or are still waiting for a 15-minute late bus.
Sadly, this means we usually drive. Greater Greater Wife tried transit to get back from Alexandria last week, waited for over 10 minutes at the bus stop, then gave up and got a cab to the Metro. Just after she gave up on the bus, she saw the late bus pass by.
The Mount Vernon Trail is a great option for those who want a vigorous workout, but not everyone can do it. Plus, connections from DC to the trail need a lot of work. I’ve biked one way and then biked to the Metro a few times.
Capital Bikeshare will add many new options. For visitors to Alexandria like us, it can serve as the “last mile” connections from Metro to destinations in Old Town (and, in the future, other neighborhoods like Del Ray). The walkable parts of the city are large enough that sometimes that last mile really is a mile.
Besides stations at Braddock Road and King Street Metros, there will only be 6 other stations. Those will serve a number of Old Town destinations, but Alexandria leaders should also start budgeting for a second round of expansion, including more in Old Town and some in surrounding neighborhoods, as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the city also needs a better DASH system or at least some real-time tracking. It’s great that Alexandria has its own buses in addition to Metrobus, but the fact is that such an infrequent bus system without any real-time information is not a real option for those with a choice of other modes.