Greater Greater Washington

Transit


Photo: An actual bus running in the Route 1 transitway

This bus is not in service. But it is running in Alexandria's Metroway BRT corridor, presumably on a test run. It's pretty exciting to see the region's first BRT so close to starting.

The BRT opens for real on Sunday, August 24.


Photo by BeyondDC on Flickr.
Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for the Arlington County Department of Transportation. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives a car-free lifestyle in Northwest Washington. His posts are his own opinions and do not represent the views of his employer in any way. He runs the blog BeyondDC and also contributes to the Washington Post Local Opinions blog. 

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Oh my. A bus. Running.
Incredibly exciting indeed.

by St. Blase on Aug 12, 2014 2:28 pm • linkreport

A milestone of sorts, though I expect learning to drive in the dedicated ROW isn't as big a deal for experienced bus drivers as learning to operate the streetcars is on H Street.

by CrossingBrooklynFerry on Aug 12, 2014 2:43 pm • linkreport

It's not a bus.

It's a big bus.

by Crickey7 on Aug 12, 2014 3:00 pm • linkreport

It looks so easy, yet it's so hard breaking our addiction to the automobile culture.

by Thayer-D on Aug 12, 2014 3:09 pm • linkreport

Nice milestone!

But unfortunately, every part of US 1 looks like every other part of US 1. This could just as easily be Elizabeth, NJ.

by Frank IBC on Aug 12, 2014 3:31 pm • linkreport

Why the hell would a metro bus be running in NJ?

by RailRider on Aug 12, 2014 3:33 pm • linkreport

Is this just for the BRT buses, or will existing routes be shifted to run here as well?

by Frank IBC on Aug 12, 2014 3:33 pm • linkreport

@Frank IBC

I guarantee that this stretch of Route 1 does not look like every other part.

I do agree that most parts of Rte 1 make me want to gouge my eyes out...

by NikolasM on Aug 12, 2014 3:41 pm • linkreport

My prediction is that within the first few months there will be quite a few drivers who inadvertently end up in/on the transitway.

Aside from predictions, anyone else noticed the interesting bus signals? They're not red/yellow/green but rather different white bars - a vertical and a horizontal bar are what I noticed but I missed the replacement for yellow.

by Nostradamus on Aug 12, 2014 4:04 pm • linkreport

@Nostradamus
Those are European-style public transit signals:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_light_(traffic_light)#Lights_for_public_transport

by MLD on Aug 12, 2014 4:17 pm • linkreport

You got one of the rare NABI 40 footers that is not in the Metroway scheme. Glad to see this approaching fruition on schedule!

by Lord Baltimore on Aug 12, 2014 4:21 pm • linkreport

That stop does have benches, right?

by asffa on Aug 12, 2014 4:22 pm • linkreport

NJ does have a BRT plan for Route 1...

http://www.njtransit.com/tm/tm_servlet.srv?hdnPageAction=Project072To

The difference between the VA BRT plan and the NJ BRT plan is that the one in VA is actually getting built. But gas is much cheaper in NJ, and you don't even have to pump it yourself.

by renegade09 on Aug 12, 2014 4:50 pm • linkreport

Are there plans for barrier arms or hydraulic bollards to prevent unauthorized vehicles from accessing the lanes?

by ontarioroader on Aug 12, 2014 7:44 pm • linkreport

Good news that Alexandria has quietly done something to lead the region. Maybe in the future there will be fewer snide remarks about how retrograde and NIMBY Alexandria is.

by Willow on Aug 12, 2014 7:59 pm • linkreport

The Alexandria government's long-term plan is to eventually convert the BRT route into a streetcar line that links into Arlington's when both reach Crystal City. Alexandria would have begun with a streetcar line instead of BRT but for their intense desire to build a Metro station somewhere within Potomac Yard, which will cost megabucks. May we live long enough to see all this happen.

by John on Aug 13, 2014 7:41 am • linkreport

Yes, for all the glory Maryland seems to get,

We have BRT within a few weeks, and further expansion plans (Duke St Corridor and Beauregard Corridor).

I recently read about how recalcitrant the Wheaton mall has been; we're renewing the derelict Landmark Mall into a more integrated mixed-use development. We're also instituting TOD plans near the Van Dorn Metro (converting from industrial to residential) and doubling down on Braddock Rd Metro.

Not to mention, Potomac Yards is turning into one of the great brownfield development stories of our region. A former massive rail yard is slowly but surely being turned into a mixed-use, transit accessible, walkable site.

by Alexandrian on Aug 13, 2014 8:42 am • linkreport

@ Alexandrian - riding the Metro past Potomac Yards daily, I've seen the progress and it's pretty hard to fathom for those who haven't been following this mega project. If the commercial aspect of this ever takes off (vs just the 3-4 story residential), look out! It will be an amazing corridor from Old Town all the way up to Rosslyn.

by JDC on Aug 13, 2014 9:12 am • linkreport

Several years ago I got the proverbial wild hair and decided to take Route 1 from Alexandria to Richmond. I had a meeting and had some built in time.

Believe you me I thought about bailing on to I-95 but I was feeling determined, a kind of bucket list thingy. Mind-numbing. soul-sapping, to say the least, although once I cleared Fredericksburg, clear sailing.

by Jay Roberts on Aug 13, 2014 9:50 am • linkreport

Side note: Instead of Metro, what if VRE had a station at Potomac Yard? The freight tracks wouldn't need to move or if they did, it would be less expensive than moving Metro.

by Randall M. on Aug 13, 2014 11:50 am • linkreport

@Randall

VRE has stations at Crystal City and Old Town. The Metroway BRT will connect CC and Potomac Yards. No need for an expensive VRE stop, which would also increase travel time.

by Historian on Aug 13, 2014 12:28 pm • linkreport

@ Historian

Understood, Arlington is considering building a $250 million metrorail station at Potomac Yard. While it's a different sort of transportation than heavy rail, I would assume that it would cost less to construct VRE given that the CSX tracks are closer to the new development and already present.

by Randall M. on Aug 13, 2014 12:52 pm • linkreport

Randall

Perhaps, but what market would it serve? There are no major employers at Potomac Yards, and presumably most commuters would simply take the Metroway BRT to Crystal City and then connect to Metro (and when the PY Metro is completed, take it that way).

King Street VRE makes sense because there's employment down that way, along with being Alexandria's main transportation hub. Crystal City VRE makes sense because of its proximity to the Pentagon and other commercial space around there.

I just don't see what sort of ridership VRE would get at PY.

by Historian on Aug 13, 2014 1:11 pm • linkreport

Benches?! You want another million-dollar bus stop? ;-)

by Steve Dunham on Aug 13, 2014 1:14 pm • linkreport

@Historian

Not suggesting to just build a VRE station now and I understand that there is no development at Potomac Yard yet.

There IS a current plan to build a Metro station at Potomac Yard that would serve residents and businesses AS WELL AS the Metroway BRT/LRT. At around $250 million, the potential Metrorail station would likely be more expensive than adding a station for VRE.

I was wondering why city planners didn't consider a likely less costly VRE station at that location INSTEAD of Metro. While there are service drawbacks in that VRE currently doesn't run during the day or weekends and doesn't go where everywhere, there are plans to increase service, including allowing MARC to travel to VA especially when the Long Bridge is replaced.

by Randall M. on Aug 13, 2014 1:28 pm • linkreport

@ Randall

Because nobody would use it! They are building links to the CC VRE station in the form of the Metroway BRT. I don't see the need to expend so much simply to have a second station so close by. I'm sure the BRT will adaquetely cover whomever would ride the VRE/expanded MARC.

by Historian on Aug 13, 2014 1:36 pm • linkreport

I was wondering why city planners didn't consider a likely less costly VRE station at that location INSTEAD of Metro.

Because a VRE station is not a substitute for a Metro station. It would be less expensive to build, yes. But it also would be far, far less beneficial.

by Alex B. on Aug 13, 2014 1:39 pm • linkreport

To better understand why a VRE station has little benefit given the current service pattern, take a look at slide #5 here:

http://www.ctb.virginia.gov/resources/2014/may/pres/Presentation_Agenda_Item_2.pdf

You will see that almost no one boards a VRE train in the morning from any of the stations in the core of the system. The service pattern is solely focused on commuting into the city in the morning, and out of the city in the afternoon.

Given this pattern, the only way a VRE station makes sense is if Potomac Yard were to be a big jobs hub. And even then, the market for that kind of transit will be limited.

VRE and MARC have great potential to be upgraded to rapid transit kinds of service, but those upgrades will require a great deal of investment to realize - which kind of defeats the purpose of a VRE station as a cheaper alternative to an infill Metro station.

by Alex B. on Aug 13, 2014 1:58 pm • linkreport

Since there is mention of VRE why not build a station that can serve both is there is ever a desire like Franconia Springfield ?

If VRE wants service there in the future it can happen if not so what.

by kk on Aug 13, 2014 2:10 pm • linkreport

To all the Potomac Yards VRE supporters (this is the first I've ever heard of such a proposal), I still ask, who would ride to or from the PY VRE station?

by Historian on Aug 13, 2014 2:25 pm • linkreport

1-It's ugly looking.
2-Why is the lane up off the ground like that? Looks weird and dangerous. Not like what I've seen in Europe.
3-Never understood the need for this project....the Blue/Yellow lines already run just parallel to Rt. 1 behind the Potomac yards strip mall. Just add a "Potomac Yards" station right behind either the Regal Cinemas or the Target and call it a day. Cheaper, easier to access and shocker--it's already there---and then EXPAND route 1 to 4-5 lanes in each direction.

Makes no sense and is a huge waste of money in my view.

by LuvDusty on Aug 14, 2014 11:41 am • linkreport

@LuvDusty

1-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWdd6_ZxX8c

2-The lane is not up off the ground exactly. It is embedded into a median to isolate it from other vehicle traffic. Also, the lanes are specifically made of cement to weather heavy bus traffic better than standard asphalt lanes.

3-There are neighborhoods north of Braddock Rd metro, namely Del Ray and Arlandria, which are heavily residential yet are over a mile from a metro stop. While a potomac yard metro stop will add to the transit options for the area, it's till decades away. As for taking busses to metro, most buses along Rt 1 run every 30-60 minutes, even during rush hour. The BRT lanes will give many residents near Rt 1 a great option to quickly access Braddock Rd or Crystal City metro to continue their commute.

by M_Corn on Aug 14, 2014 6:07 pm • linkreport

Not to mention, Potomac Yards is turning into one of the great brownfield development stories of our region.

All of the existing development in the area (and there's been quite a bit already) has been *HIGHLY* car-centric. It might eventually shape up if they can plan for mixed uses (for real), but right now you'd have a tough time convincing me to live there, even given the plans that are currently on the books. It's bland beyond belief, even in contrast to other painfully-bland projects in our region.

by andrew on Aug 14, 2014 7:23 pm • linkreport

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