SILVER SPRING — Henrik Sturve, a Silver Spring resident and regular commuter through Glenmont Metro station, picked up an order of groceries for his family when he got off the train Wednesday.
Sturve is participating in a month-old pilot grocery delivery service to Metro riders launched by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA/Metro) and Peapod by Giant Food Stores. Besides Glenmont, the service is being tried out at the Fort Totten station in the District of Columbia and the Vienna station in Virginia.
“I think the service is great… we are regular customers of Giant and we have a card membership there and since it was something that was offered and we just wanted to check it out,” Sturve said.
The Metro-Giant experiment will run for five more months on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 4 and 7 p.m.
Here is how it works: customers can place orders to Peapod online or through their mobile phones and simply pick up their groceries from a Peapod attendant at one of the three stations on the way to their cars or connecting buses.
Just about any item on Giant shelves can be delivered, including frozen and refrigerated products.
“We keep freezer items on dry ice and chilled items on gel packs,” said Marilyn Howard, a Peapod attendant at Glenmont Station.”Once we get and check the orders, we use an infrared thermometer to take the temperatures of every product.”
If customers are driving, they can pull up to one of Peapod’s reserved spaces and receive help with carrying their groceries to their vehicles by attendants like Howard.
“In addition to the 53 existing Peapod pick-up locations in the Washington area, we wanted to provide a new option for busy commuters.“ said Peapod spokeswoman Elizabeth Psaros. “The new locations associated with the Metro are meant to serve as a time-saver for those who travel through these Metro stops.”
Metro and Giant chose the three stations to encompass the entire Washington region and because “there was a large ridership at all three locations, and there was a significant amount of commuter parking utilized at each station,” Metro spokesman Richard Jordan explained.
The relationship between the growing online grocery service and WMATA has been in the works for months since Metro and Peapod both have been looking for ways to increase revenue and improve customer convenience.
During this trial phase, however, only Peapod will be making a profit, according to Metro officials. However, both Metro and Giant will be assessing the merits of continuing the program on a long-term basis.
“We will be considering the service’s potential impact on alternative source of farebox revenue, traffic flow in and out of the stations, as well as customer reactions,“Jordan said.
Sturve is a fan of the obvious convenience the service boasts and could see himself as a long-term customer.
“I think it’s a good initiative, you can pick it up off the Metro,instead of wasting time, money and fuel,” he said. “Of course, it really depends on how satisfied I am with the service; so ask me again in six months.”