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More Express Lanes Work Means More Free Bus Rides

By Potomac Local May 8, 2014 8:30 am

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WOODBRIDGE, Va. – More headaches for drivers is actually good news for bus riders.

The Prince William Metro Direct buses that run on Saturday between Potomac Mills mall and the Franconia-Springfield Metro station will continue to be free.

The free fares are subsidized by the state as a way to mitigate traffic delays as work to convert Interstate 95’s HOV lanes to express toll lanes continues, as well as add new lanes from Dumfries to North Stafford. The conversion has meant the frequent closure of the HOV facility and caused drivers major delays since construction began in 2012.

The free fares were expected to come to an end May 17, when construction crews anticipated the need to frequently close the HOV would diminish. Now, the bus riders will continue to be able to ride the Metro Direct bus free of charge.

Here’s a statement from the bus’ operator, Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission:

Virginia Megaprojects, which is a collaboration of the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, is paying 100% of operational costs for the Saturday Metro Direct bus service to encourage drivers to share their ride during weekends when the I-95/I-395 HOV lanes are closed for construction of the Express Lanes.

Previously, weekend closures of the HOV lanes were to end in the spring and Megaprojects intended to end its full funding for the bus service at that time. The PRTC Board of Commissioners had decided to continue offering the Saturday Metro Direct service but fares were to be charged and buses were to run less frequently starting on May 17.

However, Megaprojects recently informed PRTC that weekend HOV lane closures will continue throughout the summer, and as a result Megaprojects will continue its 100% support of the Saturday Metro Direct service.

Schedule brochures are being reprinted and will be available to the public as soon as possible. In the meantime, customers can find the most up-to-date timetables at PRTCtransit.org.

The Saturday Prince William Metro Direct bus service was introduced in September 2013 and has proven popular. The service’s high ridership mark was set on April 26 when 720 passengers used the service.

The HOV lanes between Dumfries and the Pentagon will close again this weekend from 11:30 p.m. Friday until 9:30 a.m. Saturday, and again from 11 p.m. Saturday until 4 p.m. Sunday as crews work to install new conduit, excavate, and erect new highway signs.

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