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More Details about the Plan for Transit on Columbia Pike

More frequent and convenient premium bus service may be in place for Columbia Pike by the summer of 2018.

That’s according to a county staff presentation on Tuesday. The presentation was made during a County Board work session on Arlington’s Transit Development Plan,

Arlington County plans to launch its “Premium Transit Network” in 2018, with new transit stations along the Pike and other amenities added in phases through 2021.

From a county press release:

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.

Transit for Columbia Pike has been a hot topic for the past few years. There has been the controversy over the $1 million dollar bus stop on the Pike, the debate over the Pike streetcar project, and its cancellation in 2014. The extended planning process for a transit alternative to the streetcar, following its cancellation, has even become a campaign issue in the County Board primary.

(The County Board is scheduled to adopt its new county-wide Transit Development Plan, including the plan for upgraded Pike transit, in July.)

According to the Washington Post, the discussion on Tuesday also focused on the cost of the enhanced transit stations along the Pike.

“Originally budgeted at $12.2 million, the price for the stations has risen to $13.3 million,” the Post reported. “That increase didn’t sit well with board members who remember the public outcry three years ago when the county debuted a $1 million bus stop.”

With 23 stations, the per-station cost is now just north of $575,000.

Other features of the Transit Development Plan, to be in place by the summer of 2020, include:

  • “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”

“Transit is critical to Arlington’s economic and environmental sustainability,” County Manager Mark Schwartz said in a statement. “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.”

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