Metro's foray into adding retail to its stations has stumbled and may not get resurrected.
Last summer, the transit agency planned to add vending machines for DVD rentals inside 10 stations. But a year later, not a single box has appeared.
The transit agency had a contract with a company to provide the video boxes, and another with Old Town Trolley Tours, in deals expected to raise $880,000 for Metro over eight years. Old Town Trolleys added a kiosk at the Smithsonian stop, but the DVD company did not follow through.
"Unfortunately, the company didn't have sufficient resources to complete it," Metro spokeswoman Caroline Lukas said. "So that contract was terminated."
Now, she said, the agency has shelved plans to add DVD rentals because officials believe more people are watching movies streamed online instead of renting discs.
Metro's board of directors has talked about adding retail to Metro stations for years as a way to increase revenue in light of unstable public funding. Officials even toyed with the idea of adding food sales so riders could pick up dinner on the way home, despite the agency's ban on eating and drinking inside the system. But few business owners bit once the agency chickened out on selling even frozen chicken pot pies.
Various other transit systems have dipped into partnerships with private companies successfully, though. Food and other goods are sold in New York's and Boston's subway stations. Prague and Toronto have offered virtual grocery shopping in their stations.
Also, entire stations have been for sale. Last month, Chicago's subway system sought to sell naming rights at 11 rail stations. Station sponsorships have been sought in Philadelphia, Madrid and New York.
Metro has said no to selling naming rights in the past, though, meaning no "Burger King St - Old Town" in the near future. The board has had a hard enough time choosing names on its own for stations.
And Metro has no other plans to seek any other forms of retail in its stations either, Lukas said. "Not at this point. That's not to say we may not revisit it," she added.