Support
An ART bus and driver (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Metrorail riders could soon enjoy free transfers to Arlington Transit (ART) buses.

The Arlington County Board this Saturday is set to consider covering bus trips for SmarTrip card users who start their one-way trips on the Metro.

This move is part of a broader effort by the county, the region and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to recover ridership rates, which plummeted during the pandemic.

Ordinarily, transfer trips cost $1.50 rather than the full $2. Individual jurisdictions get to decide whether to offer a discount.

“The WMATA Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget includes an increase of the rail to bus transfer discount from $0.50 to $2.00,” notes a staff report to the County Board. “If adopted by Arlington County, the increase in the discount would result in rail-to-bus transfer fare on ART of $0.00 and would align with the WMATA transfer discount.”

Arlington County Transit Bureau Chief Lynn Rivers tells ARLnow that her department supports these free rides because they are a “win-win” for the county, where users need a blend of rail and buses to navigate its Metro corridors and suburbs.

“The more that people are on rail, the better it is for us,” she said. “We really endorse people to use public transit other than single occupancy vehicles. This is another way of doing that — by making another portion free.”

Ridership in Arlington plummeted from 49.5 million bus and rail trips in the 2019-20 fiscal year to 16.1 million in the 2021-22 fiscal year, which ended in June, per the report. This year, Arlington launched two pilot programs to increase ridership while offering reduced rates to low-income riders and students.

The free rides would cost the county $242,000, but Rivers said the tradeoff is that the program could generate more paying Metro customers.

The free transfers, if approved, would go into effect on Oct. 1.

The transfer discount is not the only opportunity for free rides on ART buses this fall. Arlington’s transit service has started testing out zero-emission buses (ZEBs) from several manufacturers as part of a pilot program, and is offering free fares to those who happen to board.

The battery-powered buses will tackle some of ART’s most challenging, hilly routes. The pilot program started Monday and is expected to continue into early 2023.

“The pilot will allow ART to collect data and assess vehicle performance during actual operation in the County,” according to a press release from the county. “Operators will drive ZEBs to test battery performance, range and response to Arlington’s geographic features including steep hills.”

A battery-powered bus by GILLIG (via Arlington County)

In-service test buses will have signs indicating the route and the free fare. Passengers are able to provide online feedback on their ridership experience on these battery-powered buses.

The schedule for this month’s test rides is as follows:

A schedule of free bus rides via a pilot program during September (via Arlington County)

On Friday, the GILLIG battery electric bus will be parked on the 2100 block of 15th Street N. from 1-3 p.m. so people can see it, ask questions and learn more about the pilot program.

Arlington will repeat these pilot rides with two to three additional manufacturers this fall and winter.

Transitioning to zero-emission buses would help the county meet its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, the press release says. Arlington is also working to use renewable electricity for all of its government operations by 2025.

0 Comments
An ART bus and driver (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Middle and high school students at Arlington public schools will soon be able to ride Arlington Transit buses for free.

The new free ride program will begin next week, with the start of classes on Monday.

Students will need to obtain an iRide SmarTrip card to take advantage of the free rides, and a county press release notes that “due to supply chain issues, iRide cards are available on a first-come, first-served basis.”

Previously, students could ride ART for a discounted, $1 fare.

The full county press release is below.

Beginning this school year, middle and high school students from Arlington Public Schools (APS) will be able to ride free anytime on Arlington Transit (ART), the County’s bus transit system, with an iRide SmarTrip card.

Students with existing iRide cards will automatically receive the free transit access when classes begin on Mon., August 29, with no additional actions required.

APS students who don’t have an iRide card can obtain one for free by contacting their School Transportation Coordinator or by visiting one of Arlington’s Commuter Store locations with their student ID. Due to supply chain issues, iRide cards are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Students who cannot obtain a card in time for the start of the school year can anticipate new inventory in October.

The free rides on ART expand on Arlington Transit Bureau’s pilot program to provide transit service to APS students who have limited travel options to school. With this latest program, students can ride free anywhere, not just take trips to school and back home.

Previously, students could ride ART for $1 — half the regular fare — with a registered iRide card. The iRide card can also be used to pay fares on Metrobus, Metrorail and other regional transit systems, and provides valuable ridership data to the Transit Bureau for use in decision-making.

About ART Bus

Arlington Transit’s (ART) 16 routes operate within Arlington County to provide cross-County neighborhood routes as well as regional connections to Metrorail and Virginia Railway Express. Visit the ART website to find maps, schedules, and plan a trip.

0 Comments
Kitten rescued from ART bus (photo via AWLA/Twitter)

A kitten was rescued from the engine compartment of an Arlington Transit bus last Friday.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington posted a video to social media last week highlighting the Aug. 12 rescue in Ballston, showing the grease-covered rescuers cradling the tiny kitten, who later received veterinary care after being fed and thoroughly washed.

“The bus was stopped at N. Randolph and Wilson Boulevard,” AWLA’s Chelsea Jones tells ARLnow. “The bus driver spotted Artie running across the street and then up under the bus!”

Artie, of course, was the name given to the kitten after the rescue, in honor of the transit agency’s assistance in getting him safely out of the engine compartment.

“Artie is doing well and is loving all the attention he’s getting from staff and volunteers!” AWLA said in a Facebook post. “He will need surgery to repair a hernia, but because of your support, he’s going to get all the care he needs!”

https://twitter.com/AWLAArlington/status/1559258661922430976

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Parkour in Gateway Park in Rosslyn before the rain (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Beyer Wins 8th District NominationUpdated at 9:50 a.m. — “Rep. Don Beyer, a Democrat, has fended off a primary challenge from Victoria Virasingh in the 8th Congressional District. Beyer will face Republican Karina Lipsman, who won a Republican convention last month… With 177 precincts of 182 reporting, Beyer leads, 77.82% to 22.18%.” [WTOP, Fox 5]

Statement from Beyer — “I am grateful to voters in Northern Virginia for again making me their Democratic nominee to represent Virginia’s 8th District… This is a challenging moment for the Democratic Party, and I look forward to throwing myself into that fight and making the case for equality, shared prosperity, and progress.” [Twitter]

Singing Challenger’s Praises — From Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti: “Thank you to @Victoria4VA for running and raising important issues in our community. It’s never easy to step into the arena and, win or lose, we should all be grateful to those who do. I am sure we have not heard the last of Victoria!” [Twitter]

Man Drowns in Four Mile Run — “No foul play is suspected in the drowning death of a 52-year-old man in Four Mile Run, according to Alexandria Police. Police were called around 2 p.m. on Monday, June 20. Rescuers found the man in the stream near the 3900 block of Richmond Highway.” [ALXnow]

Neighbors Want Public Garage — “County, regional and state officials descended on Shirlington Road on June 15, ceremonially kicking off construction of a much-awaited and oft-debated maintenance facility for the Arlington Transit (ART) bus fleet… But the proposal still calls for using a parking garage on the parcel exclusively for staff use. ‘Given local parking challenges, a little creative thinking would open sections of the garage for public use, too,’ Stombler said.” [Sun Gazette]

Acquisition for Arlington Company — “Leonardo DRS Inc., the Arlington subsidiary of Italian defense and space contractor Leonardo SpA, said Tuesday it has agreed to merge with Israel’s Rada Electronic Industries Ltd. in an all-stock deal that will create a new public company.” [Washington Business Journal]

Storms Possible Today — From the Capital Weather Gang: “Heads-up for Wednesday afternoon + evening: HEAVY RAIN threat for parts of region and possibility of flooding. * Storms — possibly numerous — between 3 and 10p * It won’t rain the whole time but some areas could see multiple bouts of heavy rain — evening may be busiest.” [Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Rain and storms in the evening and overnight. High of 86 and low of 69. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Wilson Blvd in Ballston on a rainy day (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Some 7000 Series Trains Return — “Metro today completed final review of its plan to return eight 7000-series trains to passenger service. Customers can expect service to start [on Thursday]… The popular 7000-series trains will first appear on the Green and Yellow Lines.” [WMATA, DCist]

Shuttle Buses to Run During Major Metro Work — “Starting Saturday, Sept. 10, Metro will begin work to connect the future Potomac Yard Station with the mainline rail system and to rehabilitate the Yellow Line tunnel and bridge between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations. The projects will impact Blue and Yellow line service in two phases over eight months, and free shuttle bus service will be available for customers throughout the duration.” [WMATA]

Groundbreaking for Bus Facility — “Arlington’s ART transit system is now rolling toward a much-anticipated destination: a new centralized Operations and Maintenance Facility for its buses. County officials, joined by regional transportation administrators, advocates and community leaders, broke ground Wednesday, June 15, 2022, on the 3.5-acre site in the Green Valley neighborhood.” [Arlington County]

Shirlington Eatery Makes ‘Top Taco’ List — “Graham Bartlett [of Taco and Pina in Shirlington] calls it a deconstructed chile relleno, but his taco is more an abstract take on the Puebla dish, kind of like the final drawing in Picasso’s bull series, in which the beast has only a passing resemblance to the real thing… It’s a brilliantly conceived taco, which would mean nothing, of course, if it weren’t also delicious.” [Washington Post]

Foundation Awards Scholarships — “Arlington Community Foundation (ACF) awarded new college scholarships totaling nearly $600,000 to 92 students who will attend college next year. An additional 116 scholarships were given to renewal students. More than 60 scholarship funds support these student awards, each with their own eligibility criteria, with many of them designed to support students facing significant financial barriers to higher education.” [Arlington Community Foundation]

Contamination Pushes Up Trail Cost — “Unexpected levels of contaminated soil are pushing the cost of a trail-connection project ever higher. Arlington County Board members on June 18 are expected to approve an increase from $559,000 to $939,000 in the contract for the Potomac Yard-Four Mile Run Trail connection project… The funding was designed to provide a new 10-foot-wide concrete trail connector between the two existing trails.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Thursday — Rain and storms in the morning and also later in the evening. High of 86 and low of 70. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:37 pm. [Weather.gov]

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Post-it Notes on the office building at 1600 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, congratulating a graduating H-B Woodlawn student who’s noted for her Post-It Note art (courtesy photo)

School’s Out for Summer — Today is the last day of high school for Arlington Public Schools students. Tomorrow is the last day of middle school and Friday is the last day of elementary school. [Arlington Public Schools]

Meetings Planned for Route 1 Changes — “Two upcoming online forums will look at Virginia Department of Transportation proposals for U.S. Route 1 through the Crystal City corridor. On June 15 at 7 p.m., the Livability 22202 Route 1 Working Group and VDOT proposals will be presented and feedback sought… On June 21 at 6:30 p.m., VDOT will host a public-information meeting on the proposal.” [Sun Gazette, VDOT]

Yorktown Girls Win State Soccer Tourney — “A season that began with a loss ended with no other setbacks and a state championship for the Yorktown Patriots. The girls soccer team won the Virginia High School League Class 6 state tournament by nipping the Kellam Knights, 1-0, in the June 11 title game.” [Sun Gazette, Washington Post]

DJO Softball Wins State Title — “The [Bishop O’Connell] Knights capped a dominant campaign with their 26th Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association state title over the past 28 seasons. Katie Kutz tossed 235 strikeouts and went 17-0 while batting .482 at the plate en route to Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and VISAA player of the year nods.” [Washington Post]

Groundbreaking for Bus Maintenance Yard — “Arlington County will host a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning for its new Arlington Transit (ART) operations and maintenance facility. The public is invited to attend. The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. at the site of the future facility at 2629 Shirlington Rd. in Arlington in the Green Valley neighborhood.” [Patch]

School Board Absences — “The board, whose schedule of meetings is approved at the start of each fiscal year, has had a tough time gathering all five members on the dais at one time in recent months. Goldstein frequently has been absent, and at the May 26 meeting Priddy was gone. (On May 26, Diaz-Torres was not attending in person but did participate remotely from Puerto Rico, Kanninen said at the start of that meeting.)” [Sun Gazette]

More Bad Driving on I-395 — From Dave Statter: “This is a new one. Driver just stops at the end of the gore partially blocking the left lane until they can figure out their next move.” [Twitter]

Gov. Proposes Three-Month Gas Tax Holiday — “In Arlington, Virginia, the cost of regular gas is around $5.29. As gas prices continue to climb, CG Green says he’s pumping the brakes on unnecessary trips. ‘Look at it, it’s crazy,’ said Green. ‘It’s $5.29 for gas. I have to rethink where I’m going.’ Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin says he is in favor of temporarily suspending the commonwealth’s gas tax.” [WUSA 9]

It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 86 and low of 68. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:37 pm. [Weather.gov]

0 Comments

Several items before the County Board on Saturday would tee up an Arlington Transit bus facility construction in Green Valley — to the chagrin of two communities.

The Board will consider approving the use of the new bus facility for commercial parking, temporarily relocating about 30 ART buses to a Virginia Square site during construction, revising a lease to accommodate the temporary storage, and making contract amendments.

Construction on the project off Shirlington Road, which is budgeted at $97 million, is set to start in late spring, per a board report.

The Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association is concerned with the county’s plans to use the approximately 6-acre “Buck site” along N. Quincy Street for temporary bus storage. The association claims the property isn’t zoned as a bus dispatch and storage site, and it would be disruptive to the neighborhood.

County officials said in December that property is the only available and affordable site zoned for vehicle storage. Ahead of construction, 29 buses will go to the N. Quincy Street site, while 12 will move to a bus site on S. Eads Street, which opened in 2017 near Crystal City.

“Other sites were considered, both County-owned and private facilities, but these did not meet all the suitability criteria needed to maintain service delivery to our transit riders,” county spokeswoman Jessica Baxter said in a statement. “If the Board approves the application for the use permit, the County has committed to being a good neighbor to minimize impacts to the largest extent possible and be responsive to concerns that may arise from this temporary use.”

Layout of the county-owned 1425 N. Quincy Street site with the temporary Arlington Transit (ART) bus storage (via Arlington County)

Currently, the county uses the site across from Washington-Liberty High School to park some fire and police vehicles, as well as a portion of the Arlington Public Schools vehicle fleet. An item before the Board this weekend would amend its lease with the School Board to move those vehicles to another part of the site.

The local civic association, however, is opposed to the plan.

“Our neighborhood — like any other in Arlington — should shoulder its fair share of uses that benefit the broader community, even if that sometimes means greater noise, traffic, and pollution,” BVSCA President James Rosen said in a statement. “But placing buses on the Quincy site fails to meet the standard for a good — let alone lawful — use of land the County paid over $30 million to acquire in 2017, of which the County has since written off $5 million.”

Before the county purchased the property, which is zoned for light industrial uses, it was home to family establishments like Jumping Joeys and Dynamic Gymnastics. The county, facing a shortage of land for school and government operations, saw the purchase as a possible school bus facility, which the surrounding community also opposed at the time.

“The noxious effects of the operation of ART buses… will not only put our health and safety at risk, but will compromise the livability of our neighborhood, and put our students and visitors in dangerous situations,” Rosen said.

Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services previously said the peak times of the high school and bus dispatches aren’t the same so it doesn’t think that student safety will be an issue.

Projected route activity for the temporary bus facility on N. Quincy Street (via Arlington County)

Through 2025, buses will be parked at and dispatched from the N. Quincy Street site on weekdays, with a majority of movement happening between 4 a.m. and 9 p.m., according to the board report. The buses parked on the site would serve six ART bus routes, mostly in north Arlington.

Maintenance and refueling activities would not occur on-site but buses may leave to be maintenanced at other county facilities on weekends.

Green Valley facility

As ART has increased its routes and hours of service over the last decade, and anticipates continuing to increase service over the next 20 years, the operations and maintenance facility in Green Valley is needed, according to a board report.

Read More

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Pigeons hanging out in Rosslyn’s Freedom Park (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Bus Crash in Front of Hospital  — “At approximately 1:52 p.m., police were dispatched to the report of a two vehicle crash involving an ART bus in the 1600 block of N. George Mason Drive. The driver of the other involved vehicle has been transported to the hospital for medical evaluation. Police remain on scene investigating the cause of the crash.” [Twitter]

Civ Fed Proposes Board Changes — “A task force empaneled by the Arlington County Civic Federation has proposed a somewhat radical reconfiguration of County Board and School Board elections… The TiGER proposal, which seeks to expand membership on each body to seven, would have four County Board members and three School Board members elected in a given year, followed by a gap year, followed by three County Board members and four School Board members elected. After another gap year, the process would repeat.” [Sun Gazette]

New Lounge Arriving at DCA — An American Express Centurion Lounge is under construction at Reagan National Airport. [Twitter]

Free Soccer Programming Pilot — “The Arlington Soccer Association is teaming up with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to provide free soccer programming. The eight-week pilot program recently kicked off and brings soccer programming to families who live in APAH’s more than 2,000 affordable apartments throughout Arlington County. The programming is offered once a week at local parks and elementary schools for children as young as 3 years old.” [Press Release]

Throwback to Metro Groundbreaking — “We recently rediscovered a scrapbook from the early days of NVTC. June 18, 1971: Ceremonies to mark construction of the Rosslyn Metro station, ‘first in the D.C. suburbs.'” [Twitter]

Buses Gone Wild on I-395 — From Dave Statter: “I’ve shown you lots of amateur drivers trying to navigate I-395S Exit 8C/Route 1. Let’s see how the pros handle it.” [Twitter]

Car vs. Bakery Near Fairlington — “No one was injured after a car smashed through a front window of Great Harvest Bread (1711 Centre Plaza) in Fairlington Centre on Tuesday night (May 10). The incident occurred at around 7 p.m., which is after the bakery is closed.” [ALXnow]

It’s Friday — Overcast throughout the day with some patchy fog. Showers likely, with thunderstorms also possible after 2 p.m. High of 70 and low of 59. Sunrise at 5:59 am and sunset at 8:13 pm. [Weather.gov]

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Pastel colors in the skies over the National Mall during peak bloom weekend, as seen from Arlington (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Traffic Restricted on Deteriorating Bridge — “As a result of a bridge inspection today, Friday, March 25, engineers closed the existing southbound lane of the West Glebe Bridge between Arlington and Alexandria due to further degradation of structural beams.  The northbound lane of the bridge over South Four Mile Run will remain open, making the bridge one-way to traffic and requiring a detour for southbound automobiles. The bridge’s maximum load rating of 5 tons will remain in place with a critical need for heavier vehicles – primarily buses and dump trucks — to comply for public safety.” [Arlington County]

Graupel Covers Fields, Prompts Tweets — An ice pellet downpour covered the ground in parts of Arlington on Saturday afternoon: “Well that was wild… heavy downpour rain and graupel swept through near Clarendon.” [Twitter, Twitter]

The Story Behind the Pentagon Chicken — “The Pentagon Building Operations Command Center initially considered using on-staff pest control to capture the chicken. But the pest control staff wasn’t scheduled to come on duty for another hour. The Building Operations Command Center, or BOCC, then came up with the idea to contact the emergency number at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.” [Patch]

Bullying Incident at Middle School — “After a bullying incident involving her 6th grade son with autism, an Arlington mother asked the school board Thursday night to do more to create an environment where such incidents don’t happen to any child. On Friday both mother Kathleen Clark and her son Colton described what happened to 7 News, and Kathleen talked about changes she hopes Arlington Public Schools makes to help children better know how to relate to others who are different from them in some way.” [WJLA]

Seventh Grade Hoops Team Goes Undefeated — “An Arlington Travel Basketball girls teams capped an undefeated 16-0 season in the Fairfax County Youth Basketball League with victories in postseason tournament-championship games. The seventh-grade girls squad, coached by John Lomas, won the Division I championship game, 51-42, over Lee-Mount Vernon.” [Sun Gazette]

Lease Above Courthouse Metro Extended — “Chickasaw Nation Industries, Inc. (CNI) extends federal services division office lease in Arlington, VA. Represented by Edward Saa and Timothy Jacobs, CNI Federal experienced explosive growth in the 2020-2021 government fiscal year in awarded contracts necessitating a 10,000-SF office presence to service customers.” [Press Release]

More Afternoon ART Buses — “More of a good thing: Midday frequency gets a boost for ART 52 and 75 bus weekday routes starting Monday.” [Twitter]

Nearby: Stabbing in Seven Corners — “Fairfax County police officers arrested and charged a 21-year-old Falls Church man after two men were stabbed just before 2 p.m. yesterday (Thursday). Police were called to Seven Corners at Arlington Boulevard and Patrick Henry Drive for an assault and determined a man was involved in two separate assaults that escalated when he stabbed both men, police said.” [FFXnow]

It’s Monday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 37 and low of 28. Sunrise at 7:00 am and sunset at 7:29 pm. [Weather.gov]

0 Comments

In the next couple of months, Arlington County will launch a campaign encouraging transit use and thanking people who rode Metro and the bus during Covid.

The campaign, aimed at restoring transit ridership rates to pre-pandemic levels, should kick off later this spring or early this summer and will last at least one year, says Department of Environmental Services Director of Transportation Dennis Leach.

“This is an ongoing effort,” he said. “It’s going to take a couple of years to rebuild transit ridership.”

Metrorail use plummeted in March 2020 as large swaths of federal and private employees were directed to work from home. Since then, rail ridership has picked up in fits and starts, most recently recovering by 33% in the fall before the Omicron variant hit. Leach predicts a long recovery for Metro that will depend in large part on federal return-to-work guidelines.

Local bus ridership rates, meanwhile, fell to 50% of pre-Covid rates, as many essential workers continued to take the bus, and had also been recovering quickly before Omicron, he said.

Rates for both modes were ticking up in late February as more people seem to be out and about, as well as commuting to the office, he said. With ridership creeping up and Covid cases remaining low, Arlington County, the Northern Virginia region and the state are all embarking on efforts to further boost public transit use.

Arlington will focus on promoting bus ridership and encouraging Metro trips for accessing entertainment and cultural sites. Targeting Metrorail is paramount, he said, as the lion’s share of Arlington’s pre-pandemic transit riders used Metro, and work-from-home may be around for good.

The county will be seizing on historically high gas prices — fueled by a host of supply issues, most recently the Russian invasion of Ukraine — as a reason to choose public transit.

In Arlington, a gallon of regular gas costs an average of $4.19, up from $2.80 per gallon in 2021 and $3.05 per gallon last month, according to the pump price watch group GasBuddy.

https://twitter.com/GasBuddyGuy/status/1501920976958803969

“Any time gas prices really spike, it’s an opportunity to promote transit as an affordable way to get around,” Leach said. “The ART bus and Metrobus are $2, we offer free transfers from the bus to Metrorail and Metro has introduced a lot of discounts to promote the return to rail.”

Locals can expect to see and hear messages on social media and on Spotify — targeting commuters who listen to music and podcasts — and promotions on buses and in Metro stations.

“Spotify has been helpful in the past for Arlington Transportation Partners to localize where those listeners are and target them where they are,” DES spokeswoman Claudia Pors says. “Hopefully, people are still listening to podcasts on their commute to the living room.”

The local effort is part of a push by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission to encourage transit ridership. NVTC used a one-time, $500,000 state grant to launch a campaign and asked the jurisdictions in its borders to each contribute to a 20% match, or $100,000.

Arlington is contributing $10,000, which the Arlington County Board approved on Saturday. Other participating localities include Fairfax and Loudoun counties, the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church, and entities such as Virginia Railway Express and OmniRide.

NVTC’s effort and Arlington’s plans dovetail from a statewide transit recovery marketing initiative, for which the Commonwealth has set aside $2 million, and are geared toward an already well-connected region.

“We’re the most transit-centric part of the state — about 70% of state transit ridership is in Northern Virginia,” Leach said. “At the state level, they’re much more focused on commuting. In Arlington, that’s important, but you’re going to see us pivot to transit for lifestyle and using transit to do multiple things.”

Virginians can expect to see the state and region promoting public transit in various news outlets and on social media.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

0 Comments
Yellow Line Metro bridge over the Potomac (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Local officials are concerned that major work on the Yellow Line, starting in September, will cause significant problems — and are asking Metro to come up with solutions.

Last week, WMATA announced that the Yellow Line tunnel and bridge crossing the Potomac will shut down starting September 10 for up to eight months due to much-needed rehab work.

Additionally, for six weeks, rail service south of National Airport will also be shut down to continue work on the new Potomac Yard station.

The shutdown announcements were not unexpected. About a year ago Metro said its plan was to fast track the work, warning that the bridge was “beyond its useful life.” In October, Metro said riders should expect the shutdown to happen by fall 2022. At the time, though, timelines and the duration of the shutdown wasn’t entirely clear.

Now, we know that Metro is expecting seven to eight months of severely-reduced service. The Yellow Line won’t return to full operations until at least April or May 2023.

While Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) concedes that the work is very necessary, he’s concerned the long shutdown will cause major delays and disruptions for local commuters, as he wrote in a statement last week.

Announcements of the upcoming completion and opening of the Potomac Yard station and the Silver Line Extension are both good news for the region, and will bring substantial benefits to Northern Virginia.

The construction work needed to finish the Potomac Yard station and the closure of the Yellow Line tunnel over the Potomac for safety maintenance will result in major commute disruptions for many of my constituents beginning in September. I am especially concerned for those who commute through the Huntington and Eisenhower Ave. stations, and increased bus service from WMATA and its regional partners will be key to minimizing the impacts on these riders. I urge WMATA to maximize Blue Line service to the extent possible to help compensate for increased traffic as Yellow Line riders shift their commutes during this work.

Capital projects and infrastructure maintenance are important to provide safe, reliable service to the region, but especially given the recent disruptions from the pandemic and 7000 series car issues, it is vital that WMATA do everything possible to look out for riders affected by this work.

Christian Dorsey, County Board Vice-Chair and former WMATA board member, said in a statement to ARLnow that he’s asking WMATA for solutions, in particular requesting the agency to work with Arlington Transit to provide bus alternatives to train service.

WMATA’s closure of the Yellow Line between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations in September reflects both valuable and necessary investments in our transportation infrastructure and a tremendous disruption to transit riders. The shutdown will come at a most unfortunate time as our region attempts to return to our pre pandemic normal. WMATA must increase Blue Line service to the greatest extent possible, but even then, the capacity limitations of the Rosslyn crossing mean that the transit experience to the Pentagon, our National Landing activity centers, and to National Airport will be degraded. To mitigate these impacts, we need WMATA to provide sufficient increases in bus service crossing the Potomac and to work with transit providers like Arlington Transit (ART) to offer comparable alternatives to the vital service the Yellow Line provides.

Both Metro and Arlington Transit tell ARLnow that they are working together to “develop travel alternatives,” but specific plans will not be announced until the Yellow Line construction plans are finalized.

More information isn’t expected until “early summer,” according to Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors.

In 2021, an average of more than 10,000 riders used one of the four Arlington Yellow Line stations (Reagan National Airport, Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Pentagon) on a daily basis, according to Metro statistics.

Arlington’s neighbor Alexandria is also preparing for the shutdowns, particularly as it relates to the new Potomac Yard station on the Yellow Line. Service is supposed to start in the fall, but Metro’s announcement noted that work to connect the tracks to the rest of the rail system will take until the end of October.

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list