Prince William Co. to study bus, train synergy to speed US 1 commutes

Even as road widening projects continue through Virginia’s Prince William County, planners want to explore making travel convenient enough for commuters that they can be convinced to leave cars in driveways.

The Prince William County Department of Transportation is applying for a Federal Transit Administration grant to study expanding bus service and connections to Virginia Railway Express stations with the hope of reducing reliance on cars along the U.S. Route 1 corridor.

If the $250,000 grant is awarded, the study would initially look at potential transit connections between Dale City, The Landing at Prince William and North Woodbridge.

County transportation planning manager Paolo Belita told the Board of County Supervisors, who approved a $50,000 matching grant to apply for the FTA grant, that the study could pave the way toward consideration of bus-only lanes, or bus rapid transit, similar to what exists on Route 1 in Alexandria.

In addition, the study would look at how expanding bus service could connect neighborhoods to the Woodbridge VRE Station, Rippon VRE Station, future Potomac Shores VRE Station, and OmniRide Transit Center.

The county — and region — have been working to prioritize development around “activity centers,” which are accessible by bus and train service, to allow current and future homeowners to have the option of taking transit to work, shopping and entertainment.

In 2019, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments estimated Prince William County would want to add 70,000 new units of housing to keep up with job growth.

County supervisors asked planners to look for ways to increase transit use for future residents without dependence on emission-spewing cars.

“We’re trying to shift the focus on transportation as a whole, to not just road-building, but transit,” said Belita.

If granted, the 18-month study would begin early next year.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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