Arlington County Looks to Premium Bus Service for Columbia Pike

by Dan Lesniak

bus-147224_640When you build an urban village, like the Orange Line, the resources for residents and infrastructure are in continual review, needing to be updated regularly to help rather than hinder community connections. Columbia Pike is no exception. As one of the largest urban neighborhoods in the county, Columbia Pike is full of diversity blending housing, local retail stores and an array of restaurants representing cuisine from around the world. Considered by many to be Arlington’s “Main Street,” this neighborhood has the busiest bus transit corridor in the state. With more than 17% of Arlington County’s population living in Columbia Pike, it is time to review the needs of our public transit for this area, and the county is ready to begin.

Arlington County recently announced it will begin studying the possibility of Premium Bus Service coming to Columbia Pike. If implemented, premium services would make for better, faster commuting by public transit. There are several options for the county to consider, any of which could be approved to be included in the state-mandated Transit Development Plan later this year. The main options under consideration include:

  • Creating dedicated bus lanes
  • Near-level boarding platforms
  • Traffic signal priority for buses
  • Off-board fare collection stations
  • Express service and limited stops
  • New connections to Crystal City and Fairfax County

The Metroway service that is already in place in Crystal City will serve as a local model to study for the feasibility of premium services along Columbia Pike. Dedicated bus lanes, signal priority and near-level boarding platforms all aid in faster boarding with shorter stops. There is already infrastructure in place to make these changes with the 23 new transit stations that were planned as part of the now defunct Street Car project. On the budget front, these new stations are expected to cost 40% less than the $1 million Super Stop prototype, which was built at the corner of Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive. As a prototype, the stop cost more due in large part to initial design and construction costs that won’t be needed in the additional stops.

Any new transit plans for the Columbia Pike will need to be approved by the state. Arlington County is hopeful for the green light on the premium bus services they will present. New additions such as dedicated bus lanes and express services will enhance what is already in other Arlington County transit corridors. The study is expected to be completed and approved by the county board by May. With our urban village life in mind, it will be interesting to see how our transit options change over the next coming years. If Premium Bus Services are implemented, we will be poised to provide even better transit, making our urban village more accessible and enjoyable for everyone. When you are ready to buy or sell your home, myself and the Orange Line Living team, are here to provide you with our unique and specialized services, so you can turn your dreams into reality. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us directly at 571-969-7653 or at [email protected]

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