BRT Service Coming to Crystal City Next Year

by ARLnow.com March 5, 2013 at 10:20 am 39 Comments

Future Metro 9X and 9S BRT linesNew Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service will be coming to Pentagon City, Crystal City and Potomac Yard next year.

Metro is planning to launch a new bus line, the 9X line, to run in dedicated transit lanes between parts of south Arlington and Alexandria. The Alexandria portion — to run from the Braddock Road Metro station to Potomac Yard via Route 1 — is expected to open in spring 2014. The Arlington portion — from the Pentagon City Metro station to the Crystal City Metro station to Potomac Yard — is expected to open in summer or fall 2014, according to Arlington County Senior Transit Engineer Matthew Huston.

At first, the line will travel in mixed traffic on 15th Street Pentagon City and Crystal City. Eventually it will utilize the extended and contiguous 12th Street. The line will travel south in new dedicated bus lanes along S. Clark and S. Bell Street, and north along Crystal Drive.

The bus lanes will take the place of an existing, standard travel lane. They will be reserved for buses and emergency vehicles only during the morning and evening rush hours, but will be open to mixed traffic during all other times. Street parking will not be impacted by the changes.

Future bus service at 12th Street and S. Hayes Street in Pentagon CityAs part of the still-evolving plan for what’s called the Crystal City-Potomac Yard Transitway, the existing 9S bus line will be extended to Potomac Yard and will run along the new dedicated lanes. The 9X and 9S will provide frequent service — every 6 minutes — and will serve a consolidated list of stops.

There will be seven new stops built in Arlington between Crystal City and Potomac Yard. Those stops will feature electronic information displays and other enhanced features. The buses will still serve on-street stops between the Crystal City and Pentagon City Metro stations.

The dedicated bus lanes will eventually be used as the right-of-way for the new Crystal City streetcar, though so far county officials aren’t providing a timeline for its eventual construction.

Rendering of a future BRT MetrobusPlanning, design and construction of Arlington’s portion of the transitway, which will also include the construction of new dedicated lanes between 26th Street and Glebe Road, is expected to cost the county about $17.5 million. Metro will pick up the tab for 13 new BRT-style buses, at a cost of about $650,000 apiece.

Metro is currently conducting an online survey about the design and branding of the buses. Possible names for the bus service include “Metro Beat” and “Metro Way.” It also asks about possible nicknames for the bus line, with options like: Crystal to Brad Line, Power House Corridor, City to the Yard Corridor, Potomac Yard Corridor, Tower Corridor, and Jeff Davis Corridor.

In an introduction, the survey emphasized that this would be Metro’s first BRT service.

Metro, in conjunction with Arlington County and the City of Alexandria will be introducing a new unique bus service to the region. Special stops and bus-only lanes will be introduced that will allow the bus to run on a very tight schedule. This corridor will be the first such service in the Washington region. Below is a map that shows the new route. The new service (sometimes called Bus Rapid Transit) will be different than anything the Washington region has seen before.

  • Patrick

    If this works well there will be no reason to convert the crystal city portion to a streetcar. Zimmerman is going to be pissed.

    • Gentrification

      No they’re going to pu the streetcar in because its cool. Just like the rest of DC people who don’t care about anyone. Meanest people on earth. I’m moving back to Portland, OR.

      • Ballstonian

        I have no idea what you are trying to say. Do you?

      • ArlingtonWay

        Enjoy getting panhandled by all the angry meth heads riding the max. Drizzly hipster paradise.

  • Nitin

    Why must they use two letters for different routes on this line (9X and 9S) that sound so similar out loud, especially where one would have to hear the distinction in high-ambient-noise situations (such as, say, on Route 1)?

    • VAgurl

      we brought that up in the focus group – apparently it didn’t bother Metro as much as it bothered the folks in the group lol

  • Arlington Chris

    Well, let’s not use “Jeff Davis Corridor”.

    It’s one thing to say that later he in life helped unify the country, so he is no longer officially a traitor — but let’s not forget that this was the guy fighting against Abraham Lincoln.

    • novasteve

      Yet we put U.S. Grant on money, honor his name everywhere, despite him having expelled Jews from an entire geographic area of the United States.

    • Buckingham Banidt

      Jefferson Davis was pardoned by executive order, so I don’t see any legal standing to your point about Jeff Davis. Not that I think we should name the system/route after him, but there’s no technical reason why his name MUST be withheld from consideration.

      • Ballstonian

        I don’t see anyone claiming that “his name MUST be withheld from consideration,” just that it shouldn’t be named after him.
        Abe Lincoln won an Oscar recently, and Jeff Davis didn’t even get any screen time – reason enough right there.

        • High Riser

          I agree. Fitting names for it running on top of Jeff Davis Highway would be the “Abolition Line or the Lincoln Line.”

          For any service planned for Lee Highway, the “Sherman Line.” would be great.

    • Mary-Austin

      I would much rather have “Jeff Davis Corridor” than “Powerhouse Corridor”

    • VaGurl

      dude, its Virginia, Jefferson Davis is part of the culture, and the road is called JEFFERSON DAVIS HWY. *smh

      • Arlington Chris

        I’m aware that the highway is called Jefferson Davis Highway, thank you.

  • Tom

    Wish they did this along Route 50 straight into DC – That would make a huge difference in commutes for people.

    • SteveP

      What part would you like to see done? Dedicate a lane to BRT during rush hour (probably a non-starter)? New buses? Continuing from Rt 50 to a specific destination in DC? On that last note there is the 4A and 4H that go as far as Rosslyn, allowing for connections to rail, the circulator, and the 38B. Not as convenient as a single bus of course. However, If you’re not far from Columbia Pike there are a couple of 16 buses that cross the bridges (16X and 16Y I think).

      • tom

        Route 50 just seems like a lot of land and residences unerserviced by the 4 bus, or buses leading to the Orange line. As for the 16 bus line, unless you live there, parking is limited.
        Agreed that taking a west bound lane from commuters would ignite a mutiny…but there are empty lanes heading west at rush hour. With investment significantly less than rail, ingenuity and know-how, i’m sure there’s a way to alter traffic lights to accomodate this. The tricky part is getting over over/under the Potomac, a broader issue that needs to be addressed.
        Yes, I realize we have the 4A and H, and if those could flow mostly unimpeded to Rosslyn, that may be a significant enough upgrade for people, but overall convenience (one bus straight to town) would invite more riders.

        • bemused bystander

          I dimly recall hearing somewhere that the third lanes on Arlington Blvd. were originally built as dedicated bus lanes.

      • #4 bus serice is woefully inadequate on Sundays. Want to go to Arlington Assembly of God on Sunday using the 4 bus? Fuggedhabouddit — it doens;t pass by there. (Yes it passes close by- about 3 blocks away, but not fun walking where there are few sidewalks) . Ditto for UUCA – you have to take the 10 or 23 and walk walk walk

        • SteveP

          I actually use the 4E (and rarely the 4B) as I go to the Courthouse, but yes, it would be nice to have increased service. On the weekends I would likelier use the 4A/4S. I’ll frequently metro to Ballston and walk the 1.5 miles home rather than exit at Rosslyn with the possibility of a 45 minute wait to catch the next bus.

          I can’t attend this weeks meetings on the 4 bus, but I did reply to the survey, suggesting that increased service on the weekends. Also, tangentially related, I mentioned that crossing Rt 50 to/from the stops can be dangerous and that if there was something that they could do increase safety that they should do it (not sure what they can do as many issues are related to a lack of attention, but who knows).

    • Buckingham Bandit

      Metro is having an open house on the 4-series buses tomorrow and Thursday.


      Make your voice heard.

  • seatleorpittsburgh

    The 9S doesn’t run on weekends now. I am assuming that at least the new 9X will run 7 days a week? This is good news for anyone without a car, as the weekend service to Potomac Yards from Crystal City is limited to the 9A bus which runs at 1/2 hour intervals. Now if only the Harris Teeter would reopen.

    • VAgurl

      the writeup that they reference in the article says 6am to 1am so yayyyyy.

  • Josh S

    Too bad they couldn’t have found/created an Arlington specific video.

    Also, I dig how the video producers hired the Sim City music guys……

  • Pokie H

    How exactly are they going to re-configure Crystal Drive to Glebe? Currently it spurs off of Jeff Davis going north and isn’t there already building plans for the land in between? (of course the National Gateway building has been sitting empty for quite a while so it’s a long while off before anything else gets built)

    • bemused bystander

      They’re not. The Arlington part of Potomac Yard was designed with dedicated transit lanes running along the east side of Crystal Drive/ Route 1 between EPA and Glebe Road, then along Glebe Rd to Potomac Avenue and thence into Alexandria.

  • Igor

    Great proof of concept for what they should do on Columbia Pike.

    • Josh S

      Not exactly. There isn’t room on Columbia Pike for the dedicated lane or especially the island stations. Geary Blvd and Van Ness Ave in SF are much wider streets with existing medians that can be changed into BRT stations along much of the way.

      Also, as far as I know, none of this is actually in place in San Francisco. So the video is hardly proof of anything. It’s still just a concept.

  • Becoming Indifferent

    I won’t ride this because buses are for smelly poor people. I want my expensive trolley now!!

    • No No it;s not the smelly poor people !! It’s the containers of uneaten Froyo that rolled under the seats several summers ago.

      • modallydifferent

        yeah, I mean no one rides buses that parallel metro lines, right.
        When folks are going short distances, the time to get to the underground station, enter and exit, etc can be significant. Short distance quick on/off service can be a good supplement, especially in a high density area, which is what this is supposed to become.

  • Buckingham Bandit

    Where are the Hayes St bike lanes in graphic 2? I’m assuming the omission does not imply that they will be removed.

    • CoPi Cowboy

      And where are the road-enraged people fighting it out with two-by-fours?

  • YAAY HURRAAY GREAT!! Only on weekdays? Should run 7 days a week. I logged on to the survey – it’s a nice little survey — takes just a few minutes

  • Not so fast my friend…

    Finally! A rapid mass transit connection between the Braddock Road metro station on the blue/yellow lines and the Crystal City metro station also on the blue/yellow lines! Those underground trains just 2 stops away were way too much of a pain.

    • VAgurl

      apparently you havent tried to get to Potomac yard on metro. the airport that is in between isnt walkable from the metro to Potomac yard. so thats not a valid “stop” really. its about 3 miles in between if not longer of those two stops that needed an infill – hence the Potomac Yard metro stop that will hopefully come in the near future as well.

      • Not so fast my friend…

        I don’t argue that an infill Potomac Yard metro stop is a good idea, but bus rapid transit from a stop on one side to a stop on the other sounds ridiculous, especially with the infill stop coming. The local buses today go from PY to Crystal City in 8 minutes. What’s this going to make it, 4?

  • Austin

    why all the worry about branding/design if this is just a placeholder for the streetcar?


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