New Bus Lanes in Crystal City, Potomac Yard Open for Service

Published on April 17, 2016


  • Successful regional partnership with Alexandria, WMATA

  • Provides faster, more reliable bus service along Route 1 corridor

  • Supports growing Potomac Yard, Crystal City redevelopment

With a ceremonial ribbon-cutting, Arlington County today marked the completion of the Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway, the Washington area's first dedicated bus-only lanes.

The 4.5-mile route will provide faster, more reliable bus service along the  busy Route 1 corridor.

Arlington and the City of Alexandria jointly constructed the Transitway, which connects the Crystal City and Braddock Road Metrorail stations, and partnered with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to provide its new premium Metroway service on the dedicated lanes. Separating bus service from general traffic is expected to reduce travel times for bus trips from one end of the corridor to the other by up to 10 minutes, depending on direction and time of day.

"Along with our Alexandria and WMATA partners, we're excited to be the first in this region to bring new dedicated lanes that will speed bus service and make transit a more attractive choice for residents and employees traveling along Route 1," said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey. "As our region continues to grow, it is critical that we find cost-effective ways to improve transit options — we believe this transitway will serve as a catalyst for more improvements to bus routes in Arlington and throughout the region."

Garvey was joined at the ceremony by Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg and WMATA Assistant General Manager for Bus Services Robert Potts, who celebrated the regional partnership that brought the Transitway to fruition.

"The success of this project is a great example of the things we can achieve when we work together. This project is truly a joint effort by the City of Alexandria, Arlington County, and WMATA," said Alexandria Mayor Alison Silberberg. "We had a shared vision for the Crystal City Potomac Yard corridor, and worked together closely to ensure the implementation of that vision. This transitway would not have come about without that coordination."

"Since its opening, Metroway has attracted new riders and the route's on-time performance is the highest in the entire Metrobus network. With the Arlington segment now open, Metroway will continue delivering quality service and set the standard for bus rapid transit projects in the region," said Robert Potts, Assistant General Manager, Bus Services, WMATA.  "The partnership between Arlington and Alexandria is a model for jurisdictions coming together to build the transit infrastructure needed to encourage new development."

The project also represents a successful public-private partnership for the County, with property owners in Potomac Yard contributing land that made Arlington's dedicated bus lanes possible.

2-1/4 miles of new bus lanes and seven new stations

Construction for Arlington's Transitway section started in July 2014. The project included:

  • 3/4 mile exclusive bus lanes in Potomac Yard — These lanes are reserved for transit and emergency vehicles at all times.

  • 1-1/2 mile on-street rush hour bus lane in Crystal City - The lane on northbound Crystal Drive and southbound South Bell/Clark Street will be dedicated to transit vehicles and right-turning vehicles during peak travel hours (6 to 9 a.m. and 3:30 to 7 p.m. on weekdays only). All vehicles may use these lanes during off-peak times.

  • 7 transit stations — Bus service in Crystal City and Potomac Yard will be consolidated at the new stations that are designed to make transit easier to use, with displays showing real-time bus arrival information, a higher curb for easier vehicle boarding, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility, canopies for weather protection, seating, lighting and wayfinding information.

In January the Arlington County Board approved an ordinance establishing the rules for how the bus-only lanes will be used and enforced.

Arlington Public Art and Virginia artist Barbara Bernstein created the public art for Arlington's Transitway stations. The artwork on the station windscreen panels, entitled Connections, involves a simple line becoming an intricate, flowing interdependent pattern. Each station's artwork is rendered in a unique color family, making each a distinct landmark.

W.M. Schlosser Company, a Maryland-based firm, served as the construction project's general contractor. A combination of federal and state grants and a local dedicated transportation tax on Arlington's commercial properties funded the $10.5 million construction contract.

New infrastructure supports growth and planned development

The Transitway will not only attract more bus riders, it provides infrastructure that will support planned development in Crystal City and Potomac Yard. During the next 10 years, significant growth is forecasted for these areas, with the population living in Crystal City expected to increase 25 percent and Potomac Yard growing by 58 percent. Investments in transportation infrastructure, such as the Transitway, connect residents to jobs, shopping and the region, and support the smart growth that has allowed Arlington to add population while decreasing traffic volumes on its roads.