County Board Receives Draft Plan to Improve Countywide Bus Service

Published on May 31, 2016

  • Extensive community input shaped bus service recommendations

  • Plan includes more frequent service, new direct connections

  • Premium bus service planned for Columbia Pike, Pentagon City, Crystal City

The Arlington County Board held a work session today on a plan to improve bus service Countywide over the next 10 years.

"Transit is critical to Arlington's economic and environmental sustainability," Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz said. "This Transit Development Plan is our proposed blueprint for improving a bus network that already offers many options for residents, workers and visitors to get around the County and to make connections to the regional transit system. As our population — and that of our entire region — continues to grow — it is essential that we continue to attract more people to transit by offering outstanding service and reliability. We believe this plan will significantly improve transit across the County."

The Commonwealth of Virginia mandates that every transit operator in the Commonwealth have a Transit Development Plan and update it every six years. Arlington's proposed plan calls for adding, expanding or realigning bus routes and creating easier transfers to maximize accessibility to regional and local activity centers.

Extensive community input shaped bus service recommendations

To develop the 10-year proposal, the County surveyed Arlington residents about how they currently use transit and where they want to see improvements. Feedback on the draft recommendations, presented to the community in February, showed strong support for additional off-peak and weekend service and new direct connections to activity centers. This feedback, along with extensive technical analysis of the County's current bus service, helped shape the final recommendations. Route-by-route details for the recommendations are available on the County website.

The plan recommends implementing the following bus service improvements by summer 2020:

  • A new north-south connection between Rosslyn and Shirlington

  • More frequent service from Dunn Loring to Ballston, via Arlington Boulevard

  • More frequent service along Glebe Road

  • A new connection between Crystal City, National Airport and Shirlington

  • A new connection between Buckingham and the County's Department of Human Services facility at Sequoia

The plan also proposes innovative on-demand services to maintain connections in neighborhoods where bus ridership is low and demand does not warrant fixed route service. To be fiscally responsible, the draft TDP calls for converting some Metrobus routes to lower cost Arlington Transit (ART) service and consolidating or shortening some bus routes.

Premium bus service planned for Columbia Pike, Pentagon City, Crystal City

A major feature of the plan is the creation of a Premium Transit Network connecting Columbia Pike, Pentagon City and Crystal City. The premium network would offer bus service that is fast, frequent, reliable and easy to use, with features including simplified bus routes, increased weekday and weekend service, and a new one-seat ride from Skyline to Pentagon City-Crystal City.

In addition to new service, this Premium Transit Network would include new transit stations along Columbia Pike that provide near-level boarding, longer platforms, real-time bus arrival information and off-vehicle fare collection. The new premium service would start in summer 2018, with transit stations and other amenities implemented in phases through 2021.

Next steps

The County Board is expected to formally review and adopt the 10-Year Transit Development Plan (TDP) recommendations at a hearing during its July meeting. Also in July, the County Board will adopt a new Capital Improvement Plan, which will include any capital projects needed to implement the bus service improvements.

The community will have more opportunities, beyond those already provided, to give feedback on the final bus service recommendations at the County Board's hearing on adoption of the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) on June 22 and at the Board's hearing on adoption of the TDP on July 19.