From the Washington Post:

Nick Zaiac, a fellow in commercial freedom at the R Street Institute, said he wasn’t surprised to see so much ire raised by a gift shop.

“When people see any effort that is not put toward running more trains, they’re not looking at it from the perspective of, ‘We can do that, and we can do this, too,’ ” Zaiac said.

Still, Zaiac said, he’s a fan of Metro’s efforts to experiment with ways to increase revenue, and to drum up some rah-rah feelings about the transit system.

“It’s a low-cost way of adding to the quality of the Metro experience,” Zaiac said.

He wants to see Metro pursue other ideas for generating revenue, such as repurposing Metro parking lots on weekends to serve as a venue for open-air markets and community events, or to more aggressively pursue outside retailers interested in setting up shop inside stations.

“A little retail on station mezzanines could go a long way,” Zaiac said. “There are a lot of underused nooks and crannies.”

Zaiac said the agency has an uphill battle to counter the negative images that come to mind when people think of Metro — single-tracking and extended delays, fires, derailments and deaths.

“But just as much as the negative stuff, there is a positive brand, too,” Zaiac said. “There are going to be people who are skeptical about Metro, and the struggles are well documented. But that doesn’t mean that people don’t find images of these trains and stations compelling.”

Featured Publications