Axios D.C.

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Today's newsletter is 958 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: 🌇 Downtown's office uptick

A chart of office occupancy rate

Data: Kastle. Chart: Axios Visuals/Axios

The Washington region saw a post-Labor Day bump in workers returning to offices.

Why it matters: D.C. leads the nation in working from home, but the city’s downtown is hoping more office workers will return to rejuvenate restaurants and retail.

By the numbers: Office occupancy in the D.C. metro area rose to a pandemic peak of 44% after Labor Day, according to Kastle Systems swipe card data provided to Axios. That rate has stayed steady through last Wednesday.

  • The region is below Kastle’s 10-city national average of 47.3%.

In downtown D.C. specifically, Tuesday, Sept. 13 saw 50.33% office occupancy, the first day over 50% since March 2020, according to the DowntownDC Business Improvement District.

What they’re saying: BID’s team “has also observed what appears to be increased pedestrian foot traffic and general daytime activity, anecdotal evidence that suggests more workers are coming back,” BID president and CEO Gerren Price told Axios in a statement.

  • “Lunch time is hit or miss,” restauranteur Ashok Bajaj told Axios. He owns power-lunch spot The Bombay Club, in addition to Rasika, Modena, and more.
  • He's seen an uptick in traffic on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. That tracks with hybrid workers who are returning to the office three days a week.
  • “But it’s not enough for us to say lunch is back. The energy isn’t there yet,” he added.

What we’re watching: Metrorail ridership has increased 10% since Labor Day, even as it struggles with bringing back the 7000 series, the Washington Post reported last week.

  • Recently the rail service hit 290,000 daily trips. That’s a pandemic-era high, but 44% of pre-pandemic times.

2. 🚌 Trying the Yellow Line workaround

Signs in front of a closed Metro station.

Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

Hey, Paige here! I'm once again trying out alternative transportation options during the six-week shutdown of the Metro lines south of Reagan National — we’re just over two weeks in, but who’s counting?

Late last week I ventured to Alexandria from L’Enfant Plaza using Metrorail and then a Yellow Line shuttle. I found planning the trip to be a bit complicated and my go-to transit app, Citymapper, only gave options that didn’t include the shuttle. Metro suggests using its own trip planner tool.

Here’s a closer look at the journey:

  • I took the Blue Line from L’Enfant Plaza to Crystal City.
  • At Crystal City, there were multiple people and signs available to guide riders to the shuttle’s stop, which is right outside the station.
  • The shuttle, which was a massive and very clean charter bus with leather seats, came about ten minutes after I got to the stop, but the shuttle waited for another six minutes after that. 
  • Once we took off, we traveled the short distance to the Braddock Road Metro station to the sounds of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, which I enjoyed but it is weird to hear the radio playing while riding public transportation.
  • The entire journey took about an hour, which is at least 25 minutes longer than it would’ve taken on the Yellow Line. 

The bottom line: I likely won’t use the shuttle again — riding the bus is easier and faster —  but it’s certainly better than no transportation at all for folks who don’t have other options.

3. And speaking of Metro....

The new WMATA Metrorail map.

Image courtesy of WMATA

Metro released a new map that includes the Silver Line's six upcoming NoVa stations from Reston Town Center to Ashburn.

  • The new map includes the upcoming Potomac Yard Station in Alexandria. 

Be smart: While the signage rollout is happening now, the long-awaited Silver Line extension might see additional roadblocks before it finally opens. 

During last week's board meeting, Metro CEO Randy Clarke called on regulators to put more trains back into service in order to maintain service frequency and open the new Silver Line stations, which will give Metrorail riders access to Dulles.

4. 🚀 Around the Beltway: It’s a bird, it’s a plane…

Illustration of a bass drum, a snare drum, a conga drum and a hi-hat, playing.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🚀 No, it wasn’t a UFO. A SpaceX rocket was visible in D.C. on Saturday night after it was launched from Cape Canaveral. Did you see it? (NBC4)

🚨 D.C. boxing legend and community activist Arthur "Buddy" Harrison, Jr. was shot and killed in Southeast on Saturday morning. Police are on the lookout for three suspects. (Fox5)

🎬 Award-winning actor and D.C. native Taraji P. Henson yesterday bought out a Regal Theater in Northwest to give residents a free screening of “The Woman King,” starring Viola Davis. (WUSA9)

🐶 Thirty animals evacuated from Puerto Rico following Hurricane Fiona were brought to Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Arlington and are now available for adoption. (WJLA)

🏈 Quote du jour: “He needs to sell.”
— An anonymous NFL team owner told the Washington Post of Commanders owner Daniel Snyder. There’s a growing effort among owners to get Snyder, who’s jumped from one controversy to the next, to sell the team or to vote him out, which would require 24 of the 32 NFL owners to be on board.

5. 🎶 Tweet du jour: Lizzo at the Library

A screenshot of Lizzo's tweet.

Screenshot: @lizzo; @LibnOfCongress/Twitter

Queen Lizzo will be at Capital One Arena tomorrow night for "The Special Tour," but she might also put on a special concert at the Library of Congress using President James Madison’s crystal flute.

Stay tuned…

New jobs to check out

💼 See who’s hiring around the city.

  1. Senior Associate, Client Success at Axios.
  2. IT Governance Senior Business Analyst at AE Strategies.
  3. Vice President for Communications and Strategy at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
  4. Manager, Legislative Affairs at American Academy of Family Physicians.
  5. Business Development Strategist at Olympic Media.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a Job.

6. 🧠 Quiz: Test your neighborhood knowledge

A GIF of neighborhood boundaries being drawn

Kavya Beheraj/Axios

D.C. is a city of neighborhoods. But have you ever quibbled with friends over where one ends and another begins? Think you know our city better than other Axios subscribers? Here's your chance to prove it.

Axios' visual storytelling team came up with a game to guesstimate the boundaries of our neighborhoods and compare your answers to others.

How it works: Follow this link to play the game.

Don’t forget: You can download images of your results to share them with friends and on social media, letting people know where you think your neighborhoods are.

💙 Like what you see? Share this newsletter with a friend. See you back here tomorrow!

Today's newsletter was edited by Kayla Sharpe and copy edited by Patricia Guadalupe.