The Chron’s This Week section had an article on the Universities Line decision last week. While there wasn’t much there that we didn’t already know, this bit from a business owner on Richmond got me thinking.
Manager Avelino Diaz of the Taqueria La Tapatia, 1749 Richmond Ave. at Dunlavy, one of several hundred businesses fronting the approved University Corridor, is less enthused.
He said he and other owners and managers of businesses next to the line predict a decline in their customer base and diminished access to their businesses during construction, and perhaps less patron parking space afterward.
“Our sales will go down during construction. If construction goes through as it is planned, it wouldn’t allow left or right turns into the restaurant. People would have to go two to three blocks,” said Diaz of the restaurant that has been in existence for 11 years.
“They anticipate making another lane on each side of Richmond. That’s another whole parking area for us,” Diaz added.
His restaurant brings in about 100,000 customers each year, he said — the rewards of management’s purchase four years ago of an adjacent flower shop to double space and remodel.
“It was like opening another restaurant,” he said. “After the corridor is finished, we could build up the (number of) customers again and have a good chance of picking up sales slowly, but I have my doubts about that.”
I’m sure he’s right about his business being negatively affected during construction. It’s hard to imagine otherwise. Numerous suggestions have been made about how Metro and the city can help mitigate this loss for businesses in the interim, and I hope they are aggressively pursued, and any promises made scrutinized closely for compliance. But one suggestion that I don’t believe I’d seen before came to me recently – while I was riding the train, as it happens – and so I thought I’d present it here.
It occurred to me that unlike every other rail system I’ve been on, Metro trains don’t have any advertising in them. I’m not sure why this is, but why not allow it? In particular, why not let any interested business that’s about to affected by rail construction on Richmond (and elsewhere as needed) advertise for free for a period of time on the Main Street line, and then again on the Universities line once it’s done? That would be of value to the businesses, and might help ease some negative feelings they have about Metro and the idea of rail transit. It would also help them reach the market they’ll be getting as their businesses become convenient for people who might otherwise drive past them without even knowing they’re there.
Now of course none of this will help any business that folds before the line is built, so again it’s incumbent on Metro to do what it can to make the transition as smooth as possible, and on all of us to hold them to that. But unless there’s some reason why Metro is forbidden to sell ads on the trains, I don’t see why this wouldn’t be helpful for all involved. What do you think?