Arlington is looking to operate buses more frequently and expand service with more off-peak and weekend service.
These are just some of the recommendations that could be implemented as part of an overhaul of the municipal bus service, called Arlington Transit, over the next decade. The changes are part of an update to Arlington’s Transit Strategic Plan, which it is required to have by state law and update every six years.
As part of the update, Arlington County will be redesigning service in North Arlington and enhancing service along Columbia Pike, in Pentagon City and Crystal City, and around the under-construction Shirlington Transit Center. The proposed changes also include closing down some underutilized routes, adding service to community destinations such as Long Bridge Park, and ensuring schedules use easy-to-remember time intervals.
This update comes as ridership continues to recover from being slashed in half by the pandemic.
From July 2022 to this March, the most recent ART Bus ridership report available, monthly ridership increased from 130,299 to 164,516. Today, the highest concentration of riders is taking the bus north-south between Columbia Pike or Shirlington and the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor or east-west along Langston Blvd.
Still, there are gaps in service and barriers to bus use that this update is intended to address. In preparation for the strategic plan update, the county says it heard from users that their biggest asks are reliability, frequency and efficiency, as well as a better user experience.
“People want more direct routes with fewer transfers, taking less time to make their trips… [as well as] a better user experience (clean buses, safe and accessible waiting areas, and high levels of customer service and transparency) overall,” the county said.
Right now, reliability can depend on which route users take. ART bus data from March, for instance, shows that on-time performance is higher from Rosslyn to East Falls Church and from Crystal City to Courthouse but lower from Columbia Pike to Rosslyn and Courthouse. The Columbia Pike routes, however, see four to six times the number of riders.
Well, I was wanting to go to the #VisionZero open house at Arlington Mill rec center, but as usual, the 45 @ART_Alert is a no-show *twice in a row* from N Barton St near Courthouse. Been standing here waiting for 40+ minutes. Ironic, yes? pic.twitter.com/o7Xb6ZX3OE
— Theo in Arlington 🏘️🚴💛 (@TheoForARL) April 26, 2023
The county tracked where bus service and demand are mismatched, plus researched popular places people congregate and want to go to — but currently cannot get to easily by bus. County staff specifically looked at places with higher concentrations of people without cars, seniors and people with disabilities or limited English proficiency, among other socioeconomic factors.
It found the following communities, circled in the graphic, could benefit from expanded service.
New routes serving these identified neighborhoods include a new ART 43 providing a “one-seat ride” between Clarendon, Courthouse, Rosslyn and Crystal City — a potential time and cost-saver compared to Metrorail — and a new ART 85, linking Shirlington, Long Branch Creek, Aurora Highlands, Crystal City and Potomac Yard.
“We’ve looked at the proposed route changes in detail and have a bunch of recommendations, both for routes that need improved frequencies, as well as for routes that are overly meandering, duplicative and should not be a priority in this constrained fiscal environment where both buses and bus drivers are at a premium,” SusMo said.
The organization was critical, meanwhile, of the proposal to add a “microtransit” route connecting destinations such as the East Falls Church and Ballston Metro stations and Virginia Hospital Center, possibly using an app and electric vehicles.
“The existing connection to East Falls Church should be retained rather than moving forward with a Microtransit pilot that is unlikely to see more success than other cities’ past experiments with Microtransit,” the group said, adding that it “should not be a priority in this constrained fiscal environment.”
SusMo said a proposal for a route to Long Bridge Park and the aquatics center “is a definite win,” but criticized the way the county is going about it “by tacking it onto one of ARTs most inscrutable and meandering routes.”
A graphic summarizing the changes to North Arlington, Columbia Pike, Shirlington and Pentagon City and Crystal City is below.
Some of the changes would also dovetail with WMATA’s redesign of its Metrobus network, intended to increase frequency and reliability and simplify routes. This is part of its own bid to make taking the bus more attractive than driving and comes after significant investments in new infrastructure, such as the bus rapid transit connecting Arlington and Alexandria.
Through this Sunday, people can share feedback on the proposed changes online and in a half-dozen languages.
Shape the Plan for the Next 10 Years of @ART_Alert Bus Service!
Click on the routes you care about the most, see proposed changes, and tell us if they're helpful to you or if you were hoping for something different. https://t.co/TrcmoEKgcO
— Arlington County (@ArlingtonVA) July 18, 2023
Good Tuesday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
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Children’s Weekday Program (CWP) is a non-profit preschool rooted in a play-based philosophy. We focus on developing a love of learning and exploration, cooperation, empathy, and independence.
Our caring and experienced educators create opportunities for children 16 months to 5 years old to play, learn, and grow in a nurturing environment of child-centered and developmentally appropriate experiences.
Initially established more than 50 years ago in South Arlington, CWP continues to be a lauded program in the Northern Virginia area. We are extremely proud to have been recognized as a Best Preschool in Northern Virginia Magazine for the last 4 years.
Located now in North Arlington at 2666 Military Road, CWP offers a part-time parents day out and preschool program with options to extend care both before and after school. We offer a supportive and inclusive school community for children and parents alike and welcome all families to join our school!
The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 77th annual Christmas tree sale!
This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 24th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to 10 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garland, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.
100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.
For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at https://optimistclubofarlingtonva.org/.
Holiday Art Show featuring artists: Peter Fitzgerald, Claire Plante, Alanna Rivera, and Suzy Scollon. At the Barcroft Community House, 800 South Buchanan St., Arlington, VA. Dec. 8 from, 2 PM to 8 PM and Dec. 9 from 10 AM to
2023 Christmas Tree Sales Begin
Saturday, December 2
Get your holiday decorating off to the right start this year! We will be selling 150 Fraser firs, freshly cut and delivered from Sparta, North Carolina.