One person out of every four who shops in the downtown Woodward & Lothrop department store get there by the basement entrance directly connected to the Metro subway, a store official said yesterday.
Bill McDonald, Woodies vice president for marketing, also said that the opening of the Metro Blue Line in July had resulted in a 70 percent increase in customers in the downtown store.
Those were just two of the Woodies statistics and part of the good news Metro tried to tell along with the bad at a day-long meeting of area politicians, congressional staffers and federal officials at the Capital Hilton Hotel.
Since the recent opening of Woodies remodeled basement - right by the Metro entrance - sales in the "young contemporary lifestyle area" that was moved from an upper floor have increased 40 per cent. The Metro, McDonald said, is a primary reason Woodies is putting a $6 million remodeling program into its downtown store. McDonald said later that it was too early to tell if the increase in downtown customers had resulted in a decrease in suburban Woodies sales. "Of course," he said. "I don't know what it's doing to our competitors."
Woodies is located on top of Metro Center, where the Red and Blue lines interest. Another Woodies store - at Friendship Heights - will also have direct access to the Red Line when it goes there, an event now scheduled for July 1961.
Woodies paid for the extra construction costs of an entrance directly to Metro, but does not pay rent beyond that. There are similar arrangements at other Metro locations, such as the Crystal Underground at the Crystal City station.
The meeting yesterday was arranged yesterday by the Metro board to brief key officials on what Metro is doing, where it is going and what it's problems are. One officials likened it to a revival. "At the end of all the speaking," the official said facetiously, "we will ask people to come forward and make a commitment to Metro."
Francis White, chairman of the Prince George's County Council, pointed to the major industrial development Shell is planning around the New Carrollton station, which is scheduled to open in November. And Michael Volpe, a falls Church resident who has a car and can drive to work, told the crowd he takes the bus and subway because he believes it saves energy, is cost-effective in comparison with his car, and is reasonably convenient.
That was the upbeat part of the meeting.
Richard Page, administration of the Urban Mass Transportation Administration and a key aide of Transportation Secretary Brock Adams' on Metro issues, told the luncheon session that federal funds for Metro construction were limited and that not one mile beyond 64 would be constructed until the area's politicians commit themselves to a plan that would pay for building and operating more of Metro.
Page was restating an old message from the Carter administration, but Metro board chairman Joseph Wholey said he was pleased Page was willing to be involved personally and that he had set a constructive tone.
These are hard times for federal Metro relationshis, though. Montgomery County Executive James P. Gleason, who is fighting for federal approval for construction of the Red Line for Silver Spring to Glenmont, said he is convinced Page's agency is "trying to kill the system beyond 60 miles." That much is already funded.
Page said that a full 100-mile system is still possible, if all the financial details can be worked out. He also emphasized that the federal government would stick with its present ceiling on total Metro construction of about $5 billion. Present construction estimates run as high as $5.5 billion.
Leroy Hubbard, of the 14th Street Project Area Committee, told Page that his group had been planning on a Metro Line (the Greenbelt line from Gallery Place) as a spur for redeveloping the area after the 1968 riots. "What are we going to do about the promises we made to those people?" he asked.
Page responded: "I'm sorry if we implied that's a low-priority line. It is not our intention to make judgments the other."
page mentioned priorities on one other occasion, when Metro board chairman Joseph Wholey asked if the federal government would insist that regional jurisdiction rank the lines Wholey called such a requirement "destructive" and "vicious."
"I'm not going to insist on priority ranking," Page said, "if you tell me" that Metro's regional coalition "is going to bread down."