The World's Largest Resource for the Cart, Kiosk, and Temporary Retail Industry
by David Alpert

Example of a potential retail cart from another city.Metro officials plan to solicit proposals from potential vendors to operate retail kiosks in at least twelve Metro stations, according to a presentation they showed the Riders’ Advisory Council last night. The plan is in its very early stages, but staff have identified a set of stations that have high enough ridership to potentially support retail, but also have enough space for at least one vending cart.

The proposed locations include the sidewalks outside Anacostia, Fort Totten, Branch Avenue, Glenmont, New Carrollton, Shady Grove, and West Falls Church; the Kiss-and-Ride at Branch Avenue and the short-term parking area at Vienna; areas inside the station but outside the faregates in Gallery Place, King Street, and Rosslyn; and inside the paid area of Gallery Place, Metro Center, and Vienna. Some stations include multiple potential locations, and Metro is also open to bidders suggesting other locations as well.
Since Metro prohibits eating in stations and on trains, the retail carts won’t serve coffee, bagels, or other food that people might eat during their trip. Metro did issue an RFP in May of 2006, but which prohibited any sales of food, beverages or tobacco, but received no satisfactory proposals. This RFP will allow packaged food and drink but will still prohibit tobacco. Cynthia Jachles, who is managing the project, is waiting to see what bidders suggest, but believes that in addition to non-food items, vendors could sell packaged food such as take-home dinners or lunches for riders to buy as they exit Metrorail.

RAC member Frank DeBernardo also suggested Metro reach out to the U.S. Postal Service, as his commute by bus and train from Greenbelt to Virginia does not pass by any post offices. Many riders might find it convenient to mail a letter or buy stamps while waiting for the train. Other members including Fairfax’s Evelyn Tomaszewski worried that despite the restrictions, this program might increase eating and drinking on Metro, which is still fairly common despite the rules.

Potential retail location at King Street.Jachles, who previously worked on retail concessions for New York City, talked with many other transit agencies about their experiences. Chicago and San Francisco, which also prohibit eating and drinking on their transit systems, have successful retail kiosks in some of their stations. Also, police officers in at least one other city feel that vendors have improved safety by adding “eyes on the street.”

Metro hopes to find one “master licensee” who can operate at least one kiosk at all twelve stations. That will ensure that retail serves all jurisdictions and simplify enforcement, such as cleanliness. However, Metro is open to individual vendors submitting proposals for single locations, either at one of the twelve stations or somewhere else.

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