The management of Landover Mall, responding to complaints from mall merchants of theft and parking lot damage, has asked that Metrobus service to and from the mall's entrances be discontinued as soon as possible.
Three Metrobus lines have stopped at various mall entrances since 1974, and the buses now carry more than 600 riders a day to and from the stop, according to Metro's statistics. Metro officials estimate that the system would lose $32,100 annually if the profitable line were discontinued or rerouted.
But Landover Mall manager Fred Hauff says the mall's merchants can no longer tolerate the crowds of commuters waiting for buses who, he says, have pilfered items from stores, destroyed mall landscaping and caused repeated disruptions.
In addition, Hauff said, the heavy Metrobuses are causing the mall's parking lot to crack at the present stop, allowing water to leak into movie theaters below.
Metro has scheduled a hearing on the matter for Nov. 27 at Kenmoor Junior High School.
Metrobuses serving the Landover Mall stop continue to Glendale Hospital and Potomac Avenue during the day. During rush hour, one bus is routed to Glendale Hospital and two end their routes at Stadium-Armory, where the Metro Blue Line subway begins.
Riders at the bus stop, many of whom use it as a transfer point on daily commuter trips to work, expressed dismay yesterday at the prospect of the stop's elimination.
"The majority of people in my neighbor can't drive out here," said Leatrice Ford of Washington Heights, who takes the bus to Landover Mall to see her doctor. "If they stop the bus we won't have any way to get out here."
Metro officials say that if service to the mall is rerouted, commuters would have to walk six-tenths of a mile along a highway and through a long, uphill parking lot without shelter to reach the mall entrances.
"I know it's going to cause some people hardship," said Hauff, the mall's manager. "I have people on my maintenance staff that ride the bus here every day. But I have to worry about the hardship this bus stop has been on the 130 merchants and 4,000 employes in this mall."
Hauff said that in the last two years he has had the bus stop moved several times because of merchants' complaints. When the buses stopped in front of a mall entrance to a bank, he said, merchants worried about making deposits while large crowds waited for the buses.
When the bus stop was moved to another entrance outside the Woodward/Lothrop department store, Hauff said, the store complained of thefts and disruptions by commuters. And now, with the stop outside a third mall entrance near a movie theater, the theater owners have complained that the buses' weight cracks the parking lot pavement and allows rainwater to seep into the theater below.
Hauff said he is not worried about the mall's potential customer loss if bus service is halted. "We might lose some customers at first," he said."But look, anybody who really wants to come here will get here. Let them walk up the parking lot. It's not that far."
"Besides," he added, "most of the people who use the bus are teenagers - not that I have anything against teenagers."
"They evidently don't know who their customers are," said Mary Childress, who rides between Washington Heights and Landover Mall every day on her way to work, and often stops to shop. "Let them stop it, and everybody will stop coming and buying in those stores. Then they'll see what they're missing."