By Erich Wagner (File photo)
Business leaders already are touting the region’s first bus rapid transit service as a driver of economic activity and redevelopment.
Known as Metroway, the service connects Braddock Road Metro station with Potomac Yard and Crystal City by way of Route 1. Phase one of the project, which commenced operation last month, includes dedicated bus lanes along U.S. Route 1 between Potomac Avenue and East Glebe Road, a nearly one-mile stretch.
Phase two of the project will extend the bus-only lanes north into Crystal City and is expected to open next spring.
Fares on Metroway mirror those of standard Metrobus service: $1.75 per trip. The Alexandria portion of the construction cost around $22.5 million, paid for by more than $14 million in Federal Transportation Administration grants and an $8.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
John Long, president and CEO of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, said in the short term he expects the bus route to boost sales for retailers and make life easier for commuters.
“The opportunity for folks to be able to much more easily reach their business destination or for employees to be able to get to their [workplace] at a quicker, easier approach will benefit everyone in that area,” Long said. “The opportunity for folks to not have to go searching around for a parking space, that in itself is always helpful.”
Stephanie Landrum, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, said the Metroway has been a selling point, attracting developers and business tenants to Potomac Yard and the Oakville Triangle neighborhoods.
“If you follow commercial office and retail leasing in this region, you can see the majority of deals being done are all at transit locations,” Landrum said. “Adding an additional mode of transportation — and one that is kind of cutting edge and new and appealing and very convenient — should certainly help in commercial office leasing and attracting tenants.
“And the flip side is true as well, residents more and more are looking to be better connected and have access to these different modes.”
The bus lanes will help keep Alexandria competitive with other parts of the D.C. region that have seen recent transit upgrades, like Tyson’s Corner’s Silver Line and D.C.’s upcoming streetcar service, experts said.
“This region is already such a competitive place to do business and attract business,” Landrum said. “As investments like the Silver Line and the streetcar in downtown continue to connect places that previously didn’t have [transit] connections, the more we have, the better capable we are of competing [with neighboring jurisdictions].”