Stephen has previously written on DC Metro’s potential to make money by leasing its valuable real estate to vendors, but Metro officials have now further entrenched the organization against making efficient use of its property. WMATA denied a weekend farmers market use of the parking lot at the Naylor Road station. The Washington Post reports, “Angela Gates, a Metro spokeswoman, said it is against WMATA rules to allow the sale of food and drink on its property.”
In this instance, it sounds as if the Temple Hill, MD residents who proposed the market were not intending for vendors to pay Metro to use the parking lot; however, suggesting a user fee for the parking lot space could have made much more sense than outright prohibiting potentially profitable endeavors on Metro property.
The Post continues:
Officials say the market falls in line with the transit-oriented development envisioned for the area.
Renee Sprow, director of the Maryland Small Business Development Center Network, said the group has not given up. Informal discussions continue. And Funn said a formal request for reconsideration will be submitted.
Assuming that Metro remains opposed to vending in stations, WMATA could at least revisit the issue in its parking lots given its dire fiscal condition. Riders often shop for food adjacent to stations and carry food purchases onto trains in other locations around the city. At the Clarendon Metro, a farmers market already operates directly outside Metro escalators.
While Metro remains completely opposed to using its valuable real estate to benefit its finances and its customers, the Chicago Transit Authority is taking the opposite approach. Recently, CTA hired Jones Lang LaSalle as a property manager to undertake improvements at its vacant properrties available for lease. In the last two years, CTA made about $32 million from leasing its retail and office space.
Given WMATA’s staggering operating deficits, the agency should look to imporving profitability without harming riders in any way it can, particularly with solutions that could draw increased ridership.