Bus riders along Columbia Pike will see significant service changes starting Sunday (June 24), as part of the long-awaited “premium transit network” planned for the corridor.
Metrobus will soon offer five streamlined routes along the Pike, down from 11, and offer more frequent service across all of those routes, Arlington transportation officials told the County Board Tuesday (June 19).
The changes will move in tandem with some other Metrobus service alterations recently approved by WMATA’s governing board, and bring the county closer to delivering on its promise to improve transit options along the Pike after abandoning the contentious streetcar project four years ago.
“You may not necessarily move through the corridor faster, but you won’t have to wait as long for a bus to take you somewhere, particularly during the peak hours,” said Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey.
Lynn Rivers, the county’s transit bureau chief, noted that Metrobus will offer 30 additional hours of service across all the different routes on the 16 line, with the ultimate goal of running buses once every six minutes along the most crowded stops on the Pike.
The county has also kicked off the process of finding a contractor to build 20 new bus shelters along the Pike.
Dennis Leach, the county’s transportation director, told the Board that the county started soliciting bids for the project last Wednesday (June 13). By July, he expects the county will know how much each shelter will cost, a key point of interest for Board members after the Pike’s “$1 million bus stops” prompted community outcry years ago.
Yet Rivers believes the more noticeable change for riders right away will be the alteration to Metrobus routes along the Pike. She noted that buses won’t be changing where they drop off and pick up riders, but Metrobus will be tweaking how it describes its various routes to be less confusing.
“The idea was to streamline that to make it easier not just for those who are using it, but also bring more people onto the system,” Rivers said.
Moving forward, the five routes on Columbia Pike will be known as 16A, 16C, 16E, 16G and 16H. Rivers added that 16Y service will still be available as well during peak hours, though only to Farragut Square, and service along the 16X route to Federal Triangle will still be available during peak times as well.
While these changes came as good news to Board members, John Vihstadt did point out that “our communities have been frustrated with the pace” of the county’s work to implement bus service changes along the Pike. Rivers believes this first phase of improvements is the equivalent of starting off “with a bang,” but she did acknowledge there’s lots of work left to be done.
Eventually, the county and Metro plan to offer nonstop bus service between the Pike and Crystal City, and extend the Transitway, or dedicated lane bus service, out to Pentagon City — the latter effort just won some new regional funding as well.
“This is just the beginning of many more phases,” Rivers said.
The new tolls on I-66 inside the Beltway may be steep, but new data suggest they have yet to convince people to turn to Arlington’s public transit options instead of driving.
The rush hour tolls have been in place on I-66 between Rosslyn and the Beltway since December, but a new report by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission does not show any substantial increase in Metrorail or local bus ridership around Arlington.
The regional transportation planning group’s researchers did find some upticks in express bus ridership in Fairfax and Prince William counties, which benefits from fewer rush hour traffic delays on I-66 post-tolling. Yet NVTC staff stresses that there is currently no clear evidence that the tolls, designed to convince commuters to carpool or turn to public transit to ease congestion on the highway, are having their desired effect broadly.
“While public transportation systems transport significant numbers of commuters from the Washington, D.C. suburbs to downtown, overall transit ridership in Northern Virginia has shown a gradual decline, which is influenced by employer transit benefits, transit service reliability, telework, and real estate development, among others,” the NVTC report reads. “However, new commuter and express bus services supported by the I-66 Commuter Choice [tolling] program have demonstrated stable demand and are expected to grow.”
The group examined ridership data on Metro’s Orange and Silver lines, running between stations west of the Ballston stop and Ballston itself, as well as between Ballston and stations east of it. For the month of February, the NVTC found that ridership increased by about 4 percent from the same month in 2017.
However, staff noted that could be due to the transit system’s recovery from its “SafeTrack” maintenance program, noting that “it is difficult to discern the influence of I-66 tolling from these statistics.”
The NVTC also found that bus ridership in the I-66 corridor declined from a similar time period a year ago, particularly in Arlington. Staff found that Arlington Transit routes along the corridor dropped by a total of 12 percent when comparing February 2018 to the same month last year, and Metrobus ridership in the area fell by 10 percent.
The new tolls helped local bus services run some buses more frequently along the corridor, but the group found declines in ridership on those routes too. For instance, ART started running buses on its 55 route once every 12 minutes during rush hour starting in June 2017, yet ridership fell by 7 percent when comparing February 2018 to February 2017.
Similarly, 2A Metrobuses now run every 10 minutes instead of every 15 during periods of peak ridership — and the route saw a 10 percent drop in riders, the report found.
However, the NVTC noted that bus ridership “declines persist before and after the I-66 tolling,” not only in Arlington in recent years, but also across the region and even the country.
They’re also hopeful that commuters are still taking time to adjust to the beefed up transit options, and are merely taking time to adjust their schedules accordingly.
“The public transportation service capacity added in FY2017 through the I-66 Commuter Choice program has met with stable demand,” staff wrote. “A ramp-up in demand is expected in the coming years.”
File photo. Charts via NVTC.
Metro is making some changes to a handful of its bus routes around Arlington, in a bid to make service more efficient and save a bit of money.
WMATA’s Board of Directors approved a series of changes to Metrobus routes across the region on Thursday (June 14), including adjustments along six routes in the county. All of the alterations will take effect on July 1, and they mark the latest in a slew of recent changes to Metrobus service in Arlington.
The biggest change will be the elimination of the 22B route, which currently runs from the Ballston Metro station to a stop at the intersection of S. Four Mile Run Drive and Columbia Pike in Barcroft.
Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly notes that “alternate service is available on routes 22A and 22C,” and that buses once running the 22B route will be used to provide more service between Pentagon City and Shirlington. Eric Balliet, a spokesman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services, added that the “majority of the 22B is redundant with the 22A and C” and suggested that the change will complement the county’s planned expansion of dedicated-lane Transitway service in Pentagon City.
“The public reaction was neutral, and the change nets $108,000 per year in savings,” Balliet told ARLnow via email.
Another significant change approved by the WMATA board is the truncation of the 10E route, which currently runs from the Rosslyn Metro station to Hunting Point in Alexandria. Now, the route will end at the Pentagon instead of continuing on to Rosslyn.
Balliet said county transit officials have planned on making the change since July 2016, noting it’s redundant with Metro’s Blue Line and some Arlington Transit routes. In all, he expects the change will save about $232,000 each year.
Other changes include increasing the time between buses on routes 7A and 7F between the Pentagon and Shirlington, and a series of changes along Columbia Pike to account for bus service improvements designed to take the place of the abandoned streetcar project. In all, Metrobus will tweak the schedule of buses on routes 16A, 16B, 16C, 16E, 16G, 16H, 16J, 16K, 16P and 16X.
Finally, Metro will rearrange the schedules of routes 4A and 4B between Pershing Drive and Arlington Boulevard, eliminating 4A buses in the middle of the day in favor running 4B buses more frequently.
Hot Day Ahead — Anyone spending time outdoors today should hydrate frequently and take proper precautions. The heat index is expected to climb into the 90s or even the low 100s. An air quality alert is also in effect. [Twitter, Twitter, National Weather Service]
Energy Rebate Program Ending — Arlington’s energy rebate program, which provides rebates to homeowners who add high-efficiency HVAC or water heaters, or who perform other energy-saving work, is ending due to county budget cuts. The last day to apply is today, June 18. [Twitter, EcoAction Arlington]
Rosslyn Bus Tunnel to Open — “A long-delayed bus tunnel in Rosslyn that is expected to help ease traffic in the area and significantly speed up bus trips has now been turned over to Metro, and should formally open within weeks. Metrobus and Arlington’s ART routes are expected to begin using the street-level tunnel June 24 through a glitzy new building between N. Moore Street and N. Lynn Street.” [WTOP]
GOP Beyer Challenger Courts LGBT Voters — “Thomas Oh, the Republican candidate embarked on an uphill quest to unseat U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th), is reaching out to a constituency often left untapped by local Republican candidate. ‘I proudly support the LGBT community. I firmly believe in providing equality for every American,’ Oh said as he marched with the Capital Area Young Republicans in the recent Capital Pride Parade in the District of Columbia.” [InsideNova]
County Board Approves DARPA Changes — “Citing its desire to retain DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency headquartered in Ballston, the Arlington County Board today unanimously approved adding 1,265 square feet to its building for a secure screening and visitor check-in facility.” [Arlington County]
Graduations at Arlington High Schools — Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown high schools help their respective graduation ceremonies last week. Said Wakefield’s class president: “Just because this chapter of our lives is closing, we will prevail and go on to do great. The thing is, don’t think of this as a ‘goodbye,’ but a ‘see you later.'” [InsideNova, InsideNova, InsideNova]
Photo courtesy @TheLastFC
Arlington County’s bus service has recorded a hefty drop in ridership over the course of the last year, according to figures released to regional transportation planners.
In all, Arlington Transit recorded about 696,500 passenger trips in the first three months of 2018. That’s a 17 percent drop from the same time period last year when the service registered more than 836,000 trips, according to a new report from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission on May 3.
The numbers show riders increasingly turning away from the bus service over the past few months, as the latest ridership figures also represent a 6.2 percent decrease from ART’s numbers in the last three months of 2017.
For context, ART recorded just under 783,200 passenger trips in the first three months of 2016, according to the NVTC’s figures. That means the bus service saw an 11 percent decrease in ridership in the same time period from 2016 to 2018.
Eric Balliet, a spokesman for Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services, which manages ART, wrote in an email that ART officials believe this drop is a result of several factors. Commuters are returning to Metro “now that rail service has stabilized in Northern Virginia,” he said, and increasingly choosing ride-sharing services instead or simply telecommuting more frequently.
“We don’t have a way at this time to quantify each of the above changes,” Balliet wrote.
The Arlington County Board recently voted to cut a pair of bus routes when it passed a new budget, citing a lack of demand from riders. The county is also preparing to shutter several lightly used bus stops along Washington Boulevard, and renovate dozens more.
ART is certainly not the only bus service in the area to see a dip in passengers.
Metrobus service in Northern Virginia has also seen a decline in riders over the last year — NVTC figures show that the service recorded about 4 million passenger trips in the first quarter of 2018, compared to about 4.5 million in the same time period last year. That works out to a decline of roughly 11 percent.
The numbers track closely with a nationwide decline in bus ridership. An analysis by the New York-based TransitCenter advocacy group found that bus ridership fell by 5 percent last year across 35 major metropolitan areas.
(Updated 12:25 p.m.) Some big changes are on the way for bus stops around Arlington, as county workers kick off plans to shutter several lightly used stops and renovate dozens more.
The county is starting construction work this spring on a whole host of changes to its Metrobus and Arlington Rapid Transit stops along Washington Boulevard from Sycamore Street in East Falls Church to the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Route 50 in Lyon Park. In all, the county plans to add new amenities to busy stops and make every stop along the corridor more accessible for people with disabilities, according to a news release.
While the county is still waiting on some final approvals from local landowners, transportation officials are hoping to relocate some stops, and add new shelters, benches or trash bins to others.
In all, the county is planning on closing stops at eight locations around Arlington, due to a lack of riders:
- 3rd Street N., westbound
- N. Stuart Street, westbound and eastbound
- N. Utah Street, westbound and eastbound
- N. Frederick Street, westbound and eastbound
- N. Inglewood Street, westbound and eastbound
- N. Kenilworth Street, westbound
- N. Kentucky Street, eastbound
- N. Nottingham Street, westbound
The county expects construction work on the stops to continue through the summer of 2019. Arlington is funding the project using some of the county’s share of revenue generated by the new tolls on drivers on Interstate 66 inside the Beltway during the morning and evening rush hours.
Full details on the planned construction across the county are available on Arlington’s website.
ACFD Battles Kitchen Fire — Arlington County firefighters last night extinguished a kitchen fire in an apartment building on the 1900 block of N. Calvert Street, just north of Lee Highway and east of Spout Run. No injuries were reported. [Twitter, Twitter]
Taylor P.E. Teacher Pleads to Drug Charge — A second former P.E. teacher at Taylor Elementary School has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a drug bust in December. Michael Diaddigo, 28, will reportedly “serve 1 of a 12-months jail sentence if he follows probation, which includes a $500 fine and substance abuse treatment.” [Twitter]
Central Place Bus Tunnel Still Closed — “A bus tunnel in Rosslyn critical to many commuters — which Metro said more than a year ago would open in days — remains closed due to outstanding construction concerns, WTOP has learned.” [WTOP]
Lanes Closures in Crystal City Tonight — The lanes of certain roads around Crystal City will be closed for about two hours tonight to accommodate the first of the annual Crystal City 5K Friday races. [Arlington County]
Residential Parking Permit Applications — “It is now time to renew your Residential Permit Parking Program permits and passes for the new program fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018. Remember enforcement continues throughout the year, so new passes/permits must be displayed by July 1st, 2018.” [Arlington County]
Actor Says No to WJLA Interview — Amy Schumer has turned down an interview with Arlington-based TV station WJLA (ABC 7) because it is owned by Sinclair, the broadcast station owner under fire for making its anchors read a script denouncing “biased and false news” from other outlets. [Buzzfeed]
An Alliterative Arlington Agency Announcement — Per the Dept. of Environmental Services on Twitter: “Monumentally massive municipal mulch mounds must move momentarily. Mooch munificent mobile masses. Magically metamorphosing. More message…” [Arlington County, Twitter]
Arlington to Participate in Drug Take-Back Day — “On Saturday, April 28, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Arlington County Police Department, Arlington County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its 15th opportunity in seven years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.” [Arlington County]
Claremont Neighborhood Profiled — “In the quiet community of Claremont in southwest Arlington, Va., there is little turnover in homes — one of many indications of how much residents love living there.” [Washington Post]
Tenth of Metrobus Fleet Pulled From Services — “Metro has temporarily removed from service 164 buses – representing approximately 10 percent of its fleet – following two incidents in which the engines cut off at low speed… The 164 buses were manufactured by New Flyer in 2015 and 2016. The buses are all 40-foot compressed natural gas models that operate out of Metro’s Bladensburg Bus Division in Northeast DC and Four Mile Bus Division in Arlington.” [WMATA, WTOP]
ARLnow Featured on Disqus Blog — ARLnow is one of the publishers selected to provide direct feedback to the product managers behind the commenting system we use, Disqus. We were also just featured on the Disqus blog for our annual reader survey, which was cited as a way for other publishers to “get to know your engaged users.” [Disqus]
Most roads in Arlington have become snow-covered throughout the course of the morning as the D.C. area’s first — and likely last — big snowstorm of the season continues.
A look at traffic cameras in various parts of the county shows light traffic and — for the most part — snowy but still drivable roads. Drivers are, however, having difficulty getting up and down some hilly streets.
Authorities have been urging those who do not absolutely have to get somewhere to keep their cars parked today.
Mass transit is still running, but at reduced service levels. WMATA made the following announcement around 10:30 a.m.
Due to deteriorating weather conditions, Metro is announcing the following service changes, effective as of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday:
Metrobus service is transitioning to a Severe Snow Plan, which will further limit service to major roadways only. Due to current road conditions, buses are subject to significant delays systemwide, and customers should travel only if absolutely necessary. For details about the Severe Snow Plan, visit: https://www.wmata.com/rider-guide/weather/bus/severe.cfm
MetroAccess service is no longer accepting “outbound” trips due to current weather conditions. Service will continue to be provided only for customers who need to be transported back to their residences.
Metrorail continues to operate on a modified schedule. Trains are operating about every 12-15 minutes on each line. There are no issues to report on the rail system at this time.
Arlington Transit buses, meanwhile, are also operating at “severe service” levels.
More via social media:
UPDATE: Traffic is light and most roads around Arlington appear to be snow-covered, though major arteries are being treated
Some 40 County trucks plus more than a dozen contractors continue to treat Arlington roads as the snow continues and they won't let up until well after the storm has passed. Please give them plenty of room. #ArlWX https://t.co/DIL3oSabSW pic.twitter.com/OPVcP7Xkw4
— Arlington DES (@ArlingtonDES) March 21, 2018
— Carlos Martinez (@cmartinez400) March 21, 2018
— Kenneth Edward Piner (@kennethpiner) March 21, 2018
— L Novak (@lkn6731) March 21, 2018
Video (above) by Dwayne Stewart
(Updated at 8:05 a.m.) Those waking up expecting a winter wonderland were instead greeted by icy but mostly snowless roads and sidewalks this morning.
Still, local governments, agencies and schools are taking no chances as snow starts to ramp up in the metro area.
Arlington County government offices, courts, community centers and other facilities are closed today and the county is urging residents to “stay off the roads as the snowstorm enters the area.”
Schools are also closed and all parks and rec programs and activities are cancelled. Trash and recycling collection has been bumped back a day.
Trash & Recycling collection for today, March 21, 2018, has been cancelled. Service will resume tomorrow with the collection schedule shifting by 24 hours. Wednesday collection will occur Thursday, Thursday collection will occur Friday, Friday collection will occur Saturday.
The federal government is closed today, the Office of Personnel Management announced. Along with federal agencies, Joint Base Myer Henderson-Hall is also closed. Emergency and telework-ready employees must follow their agency’s procedures, OPM said.
VRE and MARC service is cancelled, most Amtrak service is cancelled, and Metrobus and Metrorail is operating on a modified service schedule. Arlington Transit buses, meanwhile, are also operating on a reduced schedule.
“Expect snow today 8AM-8PM. Metrobus avoiding hills & narrow streets. ART will provide limited service as conditions permit,” ART said via email.
VDOT is urging drivers to “avoid being caught in hazardous conditions such as limited visibility and slick or snow-covered roads, as well as to allow crews plenty of room to work safely.”
For those who must drive, HOV restrictions have been lifted on local highways.
High occupancy vehicle (HOV) restrictions are lifted on I-66 (inside and outside the Beltway) and on I-395 (from Edsall Road to D.C.) for the morning and afternoon rush hours today. Because HOV restrictions are lifted, tolls on the 66 Express Lanes inside the Beltway will also be suspended today. Please also be aware that shoulder lanes on I-66 and I-495 may be closed through the day to allow crews room to treat.
Even before the bulk of the snow arrives, issues are being reported on the roads. As of 7:10 a.m., firefighters were responding to a report of two vehicles that spun out and off the road along the GW Parkway near Roosevelt Bridge.
More weather updates via Twitter:
Crews have been pretreating roadways ahead of the expected heavy snow, set to arrive around dawn and last through most of the day. @ArlingtonVA government @APSVirginia and federal government closed Wednesday. #ArlWX
— Arlington DES (@ArlingtonDES) March 21, 2018
Wednesday am update: Snow is falling! Winter weather is expected today into this evening. Confirm the status of your flight with the airline prior to coming to the airport. Many airlines are waiving rebooking fees for travel today – check with your airline for details
— Reagan Airport (@Reagan_Airport) March 21, 2018
6:00 AM: A band of heavy snow is lifting northeast that will quickly make travel hazardous. Temperatures are below freezing in most locations, so exercise caution even if precipitation is light. pic.twitter.com/yWoXFqzqYG
— NWS DC/Baltimore (@NWS_BaltWash) March 21, 2018
The East Falls Church Metro station could get more bus stops in the future, if the Virginia Department of Transportation agrees to an Arlington County plan.
The Arlington County Board voted unanimously Saturday (December 16) to ask VDOT to redraw a limited access line for I-66 next to the Metro station’s park and ride lot, and make it parallel to the highway.
The highway’s limited access lines restrict uses on some of the land that surrounds it, which is intended to make the highway safer and easier to maintain. The land in question bounded by the line is currently used as a park and ride bus loop.
Metrobus and Fairfax Connector are planning more bus service connecting the station to Seven Corners, while Alexandria is exploring a bus rapid transit service to Tysons Corner, with a stop at the East Falls Church Metro station. Staff said the growth of bus service means this change is necessary.
“It is because of these myriad transit pressures, as well as ongoing coordination with VDOT related to moving more people more efficiently, that the County is requesting a change in the limited access line to allow for more land that can be used for purposes other than highway needs at the East Falls Church Metrorail Station,” staff wrote in a report. “By enacting this shift now, the County can feasibly plan, with its partners, for future bus-to-rail transfer capacity at the East Falls Church Metrorail station on land that is now used as a park and ride facility, and that will be used as a park and ride facility for the foreseeable future.”
Because VDOT owns the land, it has the final say on any line shifts.
Photo (top) via Arlington County, (bottom) courtesy Elvert Barnes
Sunday is the 33rd annual Army Ten-Miler race, part of which takes place in Arlington.
The race begins at 7:50 a.m. on Route 110, and the course takes runners into the District before returning to Arlington in the I-395 HOV lanes. The race ends in the Pentagon north parking lot.
The following road closures will be in effect in Arlington:
- Route 110 between Rosslyn and Crystal City will be closed in both directions at 5:00 a.m. (Use the George Washington Memorial Parkway as an alternative)
- I-395 HOV northbound from Crystal City to the 14th Street Bridge will be closed at 6:00 a.m.
- Eads Street from Army Navy Drive into the Pentagon/northbound I-395 HOV lanes will be closed at 5:00 a.m.
- I-395 southbound HOV exit to S. Eads Street / Pentagon south parking lot will be closed at 5:00 a.m.
- Route 27 in both directions from George Washington Memorial Parkway to I-395 will be closed at 7:00 a.m.
- Army Navy Drive from S. Eads Street to S. 12th Street at 8:00 a.m.
- 12th Street from S. Eads Street to Long Bridge Drive at 8:00 a.m.
- Long Bridge Drive will be closed from S. 12th Street to Boundary Channel Drive at 8:00 a.m.
All roads should reopen by 2 p.m.
The Pentagon north parking lot will be restricted to “Authorized Vehicles Only” from 4:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Pentagon employees and visitors to the Pentagon Memorial can park in the south parking lot, which is accessible by Columbia Pike and S. Fern Street.
Runners and spectators are encouraged to use Metro, which will open two hours early, at 6 a.m., for the event. Metro offers the following tips for traveling to and from the race on Sunday:
- While the closest Metrorail station to the start of the race is Pentagon Station on the Blue and Yellow lines, to avoid crowds, riders are encouraged to consider using Pentagon City instead.
- Pentagon Station will be available for “exit only” from 6 a.m. until 8 a.m.
- In the event of crowded conditions at Pentagon Station, trains may temporarily bypass the station. (In the event of crowding, some customers may be directed to use Pentagon City instead.)
- Please take note of service changes on the Red Line.
- Additional Blue Line trains will run between Franconia-Springfield and Stadium-Armory from 6 a.m. until 8:40 a.m., and from 11:15 a.m. to 12:50 p.m.
- Metro recommends purchasing a SmarTrip card in advance loaded with enough value for the entire day to avoid long lines and speed your trip. SmarTrip cards can be purchased at fare vending machines located at station entrances.
All Metrobus service that usually runs to and from the Pentagon will be diverted to Pentagon City until about 2 p.m.
County Board Stalls on VRE Decision — The Arlington County Board, at a Tuesday meeting that stretched into early Wednesday morning, declined to endorse one of the options for a proposed new Virginia Railway Express station in Crystal City. VRE officials, county staff, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and Arlington’s Transportation Commission backed Option 2, which places the station closer to the Crystal City Metro station and transit center. Some local condominium residents and the Planning Commission, citing concerns about noise, wanted Option 3 — which places the station behind an office building — to be considered as well. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Michelle Obama Stops By Arlington for Salon Opening — Former first lady Michelle Obama and her Secret Service entourage were among “a crowd of about 40 VIPs” who came to Arlington Tuesday night for the opening of a new salon. The business, Aesthetics Salon, is owned by stylist Yene Damtew, who was part of Obama’s “glam squad” while she was in the White House. Aesthetics Salon is located at 2412 26th Road S. in the Long Branch Creek neighborhood just south of I-395. [Washington Post]
Clarendon Day Closures — Expect lots of road closures in central Clarendon on Saturday for the annual Clarendon Day festival, which is taking place from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. On Sunday morning Wilson Blvd will be closed from Clarendon to Rosslyn for the Clarendon Day 5K, 10K and Kids Dash races. [Arlington County, Arlington County]
More on Proposed Columbia Pike Bus Revamp — “Recently Metro unveiled the latest proposed changes to the Metrobus network which includes a major restructuring to the 16 series bus lines on Columbia Pike in Arlington. The long-awaited restructuring is aimed at simplifying and improving bus service in the corridor.” [Greater Greater Washington]
County Seeking Pike Bus Feedback — While WMATA continues to collect feedback on the proposed Columbia Pike bus changes via an online survey, a public meeting is scheduled tonight (Thursday) to discuss the changes in person with residents. The meeting is taking place at the Arlington Mill Community Center from 6-8 p.m. [Arlington County]
Local Nonprofit Lender Steps Up Loan Volume — “Arlington-based Capital Impact Partners said Wednesday it provided $75 million in private financing in the second quarter of 2017, the largest quarterly loan volume in its history. The nonprofit community development financial institution backs projects that support increased access to health care, education, affordable housing and healthy food in the United States.” [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok
Metro is seeking feedback on proposed changes to numerous bus lines, including the plans for new Columbia Pike service as well as other services that run through Arlington County.
Under a series of proposed changes put forward for Metrobus in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, Metro has put forward a plan to “restructure” service on Columbia Pike, in keeping with Arlington’s transit plan for the Pike.
A so-called “Premium Transit Network” is planned for the Pike and is set to open next summer instead of the cancelled streetcar. It will offer limited-stop service and “new or enhanced connections between Crystal City, Pentagon City and Skyline City.”
The buses are set to have a unique look, have additional service in Arlington to keep up with demand and consolidate all current Metrobus routes — the 16A, 16B, 16G, 16H, 16J, 16K and 16P — under the new network.
Other proposed changes to bus lines that run through Arlington are:
- 4A, 4B (Pershing Drive to Arlington Blvd)
Provide additional 4B trips in response to ridership, with the 4A operating only during weekday rush hours, with weekday midday and evening service eliminated. The county has proposed the 4A become a local ART bus route in FY 2020.
- 7A, 7F (Lincolnia to North Fairlington)
Modify service to operate via Pentagon City between the Pentagon and Shirlington to serve Pentagon City. New timetables will reflect an increase in the time between buses of approximately five minutes to accommodate additional travel time between the Pentagon and Pentagon City.
- 10E (Hunting Point to the Pentagon)
Eliminate 10E service to Rosslyn, and have the route operate between Pentagon and Hunting Point in Alexandria only.
- 22A, 22B (Barcroft to South Fairlington)
Modify Route 22A to operate via Pentagon City between the Pentagon and Shirlington to serve Pentagon City. New timetables would reflect an increase in the time between buses of approximately five minutes to accommodate additional travel time between the Pentagon and Pentagon City. Route 22B would be eliminated, with alternate service on Metrobus 22A and 22C.
Service would be every eight minutes during rush hour between Pentagon City and the Braddock Road Metro station on all trips to better match Metro’s Blue and Yellow lines.
Per a Metro press release, there are several ways community members can have their say:
- Complete an online survey.
- Fill out a paper survey and drop it in collection boxes located near the fare gates at Metrorail stations closest to the impacted routes. There is no need to take multiple surveys.
- Provide feedback to outreach staff September 6 – September 21, at designated times and locations on-board buses or at Metrorail stations.
- Attend an open house Tuesday, September 26, 2017, beginning at 5:30 p.m. followed by a public hearing from 6 – 7 p.m. Speaker registration is onsite only. Venue: Metro Headquarters Building (600 Fifth St. NW, Washington, DC 20001)
The deadline for providing feedback is 9 a.m. on Monday, October 2.
(Updated 2 p.m.) Some changes are coming to several Metrobus routes through Arlington County next year, as the county prepares for the Columbia Pike “Premium Transit Network.”
At a work session with the Arlington County Board on Thursday, county staff put forward a plan that would end seven lines that run through Arlington in FY 2019, which begins on July 1, 2018, and save the county $5.8 million:
- The 4A between Seven Corners and Rosslyn
- The 16B, E and P along Columbia Pike
- The 16G, H, K along Columbia Pike
A spokesman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services said the changes along the Pike would help make way for the so-called “Premium Transit Network,” which is projected to cost $6.9 million and launch next summer after delays. The various routes would be consolidated under that network, which the spokesman said would “result in more bus service in the county, not less.”
The new bus system was put together after the Columbia Pike Streetcar project was cancelled in 2014, with Board members at the time promising a system that would be just as good, if not better.
To try and lessen the impact of the service cuts, staff proposed improving the frequency and hours of the 4B that largely overlaps the 4A, and similar efforts for the 16A on Columbia Pike. Those improvements would cost just under $850,000.
The 4B would then be discontinued as a Metrobus route in FY 2020, saving the county $1.7 million, and made an ART route.
The 16X service from Columbia Pike to Federal Triangle in D.C. via the Pentagon would have its hours improved, at a cost of $3.2 million to county coffers. The 15K and 15L routes between the East Falls Church and Rosslyn Metro stations would also be realigned.
All told, the various service reductions and increases will cost the county just over $2.6 million more in its Metrobus subsidy, bringing that figure to $40.5 million in FY 2019.
The possibility also exists that the 22A, B and C routes through Barcroft and South Fairlington could be converted into locally-run ART routes. That would save $2.4 million in the county’s Metrobus subsidy, but would require funds to be made available through ART instead.
Cuts had been planned for FY 2018 under the county’s Transit Development Plan approved last year, but were pushed off to FY 2019. The county did not cut any Metrobus routes for FY 2018, and improved the frequency of the 2A route between the Ballston and Dunn Loring Metro stations.
That came in part due to funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s “Transform 66” project to widen I-66 from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston.
Metro staff will analyze the actual costs and savings from the various changes, and bring forward a proposal to the agency’s board of directors. The board would then take public comment on any proposed changes region-wide before making a decision next year.
Image via county staff presentation