Bus Rapid Transit Considered Best Option on Route 1 Corridor | Securities



Expanding a bus rapid transit line along the Route 1 corridor in Prince William County would be more cost effective than Metrorail to reduce traffic congestion, but more dense development is needed to boost traffic. ridership, according to transportation planners.

These preliminary findings from a year-long study by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation of improved transit options along Highway 1 in Fairfax and Prince William counties were presented at ‘a meeting on Tuesday evening.

The study explores five options: extend the yellow Metrorail line from Huntington to Triangle, extend the blue line from Franconia-Springfield to Triangle, create a rapid transit line (BRT) from Fort Belvoir to Triangle, increase service from express buses throughout the Route 1 corridor, and a slight increase in Virginia Railway Express service in addition to the improvements already planned.

A draft report with recommendations will be completed next month and the final report will be submitted to the General Assembly by December 1.

The BRT option, which planners said was analyzed as an extension of the Richmond BRT highway slated for 2029 to Fairfax, would continue south along Route 1 from Fort Belvoir to Triangle, only deviating to the west only for a series of stops at The Landing in Prince William, Parkway Crossing and the Potomac Mills area.

Overall, the study finds that the Metrorail and BRT alternatives achieve the best results in terms of ridership potential, regional accessibility and congestion alleviation. But while BRT has performed well in terms of profitability – just behind the express bus option – the metro options have proven to be the least profitable in terms of dollars spent by new transit riders. Overall ridership would be highest on the BRT alternative, although more new riders would use public transit rather than driving with one of the Metro options.

Planners said additional density and different levels of transit-oriented development around all stops would be critical to sustaining BRT or Metrorail ridership, particularly south of Potomac Mills, where the study shows that shipments would be the lowest.

The study team recently added a series of ‘sensitivity tests’ to the alternatives, which showed the potential impacts of increased land use changes in the corridor, varying levels of telecommuting and truncated routes on the options. BRT and Metro.

“There are a lot of things that counties, especially Prince William County, can do with using the land around potential stations to make Metrorail in the county more feasible, efficient and cost effective, if it was. the direction the county decided to go, ”said Dalia Leven of Cambridge Systematics, the study’s consulting team.

Tom Harrington, also of Cambridge Systematics, warned that before Metro plans to expand to Prince William, the capacity of the rail system’s tunnel under the Potomac River would have to be increased. Additionally, there would be legal hurdles to overcome to add Prince William to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority‘s Metro contract.

Planners said an increase in telecommuting would have a much bigger effect on Metrorail options than on BRT.

“The [potential] Subway rides tend to be longer and they tend to be more work trips to the office, so people go to the district, head to the Pentagon and other places like this, ”he said. said Leven. She added that BRT trips tend to be for jobs like retail or education that require in-person presence or for shopping or other non-business purposes.

Planners said BRT would experience the biggest drop in ridership from a shorter route ending in downtown Potomac rather than Triangle. Some metro riders would likely still drive to the nearest station, while many potential BRT riders at the southern end of the route would be lost.

Senator Scott Surovell (D-36th), among lawmakers pushing to fund the study, joined the remote presentation.

“If you look around Northern Virginia, all the construction cranes are around subway stations. This is where the growth is; that’s where the jobs go; this is where the future lies, ”he said during the call. “We need to get more people off I-95 and we need to keep making these long term plans to set the stage so that when we have the money, we can build these types of projects.”

Planners barely discussed the express bus option on Tuesday night and said the improved ERV service alternative scored low in terms of increased ridership and other metrics, as most of the gains were already part of the Transforming Rail in Virginia plan. Leven said planners were anticipating a roughly 80% increase in ridership due to the improvements already planned.

The study’s ERV alternative would increase the frequency of trains during peak periods from already scheduled 20-minute intervals to 15-minute intervals.

After the presentation, Occoquan District Supervisor Kenny Boddye agreed on Twitter that an extension of BRT could be good proof of concept for Metro, but that these improvements should happen quickly.

“Our traffic corridor is of national importance and has the most congestion in the United States. 2050 is too late,” he wrote. “With the right state, local, federal and private partnerships, we can – and must – do it over the next decade and change. “


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