ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Like a rail line rolling on rubber, a game changing bus service is coming to Northern Virginia. The Crystal City/Potomac Yard Transitway, featuring bold blue Metroway buses, is expected to begin service Aug 24.
“We’re really excited. This is the first regional transitway in dedicated travel lanes in this area,” says acting Deputy Director for the City of Alexandria, Sandra Marks.
Initially, Metroway buses will connect the Braddock Road and Crystal City Metro stations with multiple stops between the two. The transitway eventually will extend to Pentagon City.
Service will run every 12 minutes Monday through Friday and every 20 minutes on weekends. Buses will run until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.
Fares will cost the same as rides on Metro buses and at first they’ll be paid using coins or SmarTrip cards.
Over the next year equipment will be installed at stations to allow riders to pay fares before boarding buses using either a SmarTrip card or a kiosk that works much like a multi-space parking meter that provides paper receipts.
“It’s the honor system,” Marks says.
Metro police will work the route with handheld devices to confirm payment by SmarTrip card or ask to see a rider’s paper receipt.
Marks says Metroway will function much like any other part of the regular Metro system.
“There will be kiosks at each of the stations, so if you don’t have enough money on your SmarTrip card you can refill it,” Marks says.
The service in Alexandria includes travel lanes built exclusively for buses on U.S. 1 in Potomac Yard from Potomac Avenue to East Glebe Road. On some less busy portions of the Alexandria route buses will share travel lanes with regular commuters.
For now Metroway buses in Arlington will share the road with regular traffic.
Groundbreaking for construction of dedicated transitway lanes in Arlington is Friday.
“The first phases of construction will be in Potomac Yard, then work moves up to Crystal City,” says Eric Balliet with Arlington County’s Department of Environmental Services.
But there will be some growing pains.
“Drivers should know that during construction there will be some lanes closures along Crystal Drive, but it will never be completely shut down, and two-way traffic will be maintained,” Balliet says.
There will be no Crystal City road work from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Construction in Arlington is expected to conclude in the spring 2015.