A long list of new transit services or significant enhancements slated to come online in the Washington region over the next few years were highlighted at a recent gathering of transit agencies and operators from across the metropolitan area.
The Transportation Planning Board's annual transit forum, which was held this year on June 9, brought together more than 30 public and private transit providers, including private taxi, paratransit, and bus services providers. One primary aim of the annual forum is to give providers an opportunity to share updates on major improvements that are in various stages of planning and implementation.
Some public-sector providers were able to point to new services and major improvements that have just recently been completed or become operational, including the District of Columbia's new Circulator bus route on the National Mall, a major restructuring of bus routes and schedules for the Fairfax Connector to better serve the new Silver Line, the launch of a new mobile-ticketing app by Frederick County, and the installation of bike racks on all of Prince George's County's TheBus vehicles.
Scheduled to be complete by the end of 2015 are new transit centers in Maryland that will consolidate several existing bus stops and provide shelter and safer pedestrian connections for bus riders. One is the long-awaited Silver Spring Transit Center. The other is the Takoma/Langley Transit Center, a portion of which is being paid for with funding under a federal TIGER grant awarded to the TPB in 2010 to promote more reliable bus services in the region.
More: Region Using Federal TIGER Funding to Improve Reliability and Convenience of Bus Transit
Other improvements coming online later this year include more dedicated lanes for Metroway, the new bus rapid transit service between Arlington and Alexandria that opened last August, and delivery of more of the new high-tech 7000 series railcars for Metro.
Looking a bit further into the future, the Maryland Transit Administration is evaluating the potential for bus-on-shoulder operations on I-270 from Frederick County to the Capital Beltway. The Potomac and Rappahannock Transit Commission (PRTC) will soon break ground on a new bus storage facility in northwestern Prince William County which will enable it to increase commuter bus services connecting communities in the county to job centers in Tysons Corner, Arlington, and the District of Columbia. And the City of Alexandria will soon begin environmental studies in preparation for constructing a new Metro station at Potomac Yard on the Yellow and Blue lines.
Finally, one of the other major transit enhancements currently being planned is increased bus service to operate on new express toll lanes on I-66 in Northern Virginia. VDOT proposed the new lanes earlier this year. The agency envisions increased commuter bus frequency as well as new mid-day and reverse-commute buses connecting major Activity Centers in the corridor. VDOT, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, and several local jurisdictions in the corridor are working together to plan possible routes and schedules, and to identify the infrastructure needed to support the new service.
The TPB's recent transit forum also included discussions of the rising demand for Metro's MetroAccess paratransit service, new grant opportunities under the TPB's federally funded Enhanced Mobility program, the challenges and opportunities presented by the introduction of Uber, Bridj, and other private "microtransit" providers in the region, and a briefing on the TPB's recent commuter bus parking and layover study.
The regional transit forum was organized by the TPB's Private Providers Task Force, which brings area transit providers together periodically to discuss key regional challenges and opportunities. The annual forum is an opportunity to highlight major events and issues and is another example of the role the TPB plays in convening area agencies and providers to discuss plans, share best practices, and identify and tackle common challenges.
More: Agenda and Materials from TPB's Annual Transit Forum on June 9, 2015