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Traffic & Transit

VRE on ‘S’ Schedule Monday, Changes to Local Bus Service

The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday will bring some changes to bus service.

Monday, Jan. 20, is a federal holiday and is when the nation will honor civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission announced the following bus schedule changes for Monday:

In observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, PRTC buses will operate as follows on Monday, January 20:

OMNIRIDE COMMUTER BUS AND METRO DIRECT – Modified Holiday schedule – limited service. See designated trips on schedules.


No counter transactions will be processed at the PRTC Transit Center on Monday, January 20.

There will also be changes to Virginia’s only commuter rail service – VRE – on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Trains on the system’s Fredericksburg and Manassas lines will operate on an S schedule on Monday.

The date is one of 10 federally observed holidays in which the transit system does not provide service.

*This story earlier incorrectly stated Virginia Railway Express would not provide service on Monday.

Crews Repair Several Pot Holes on I-95 in Stafford

[Photo: Mary Davidson]

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — It appears several large potholes have formed on Interstate 95 in Stafford County.

Those potholes caught the attention of highway crews and state police that were called to the Falmouth area to repair them and divert traffic, respectively.

More in a press release from the Virginia Department of Transportation:

Several large potholes have developed on I-95 south at Exit 133 (Rt. 17/Falmouth) in Stafford County closing one travel lane on I-95 south and the ramp acceleration lane to Route 17 towards Falmouth. The potholes are located on the bridge over Route 17.

Infrastructure Corporation of America (ICA), VDOT’s interstate maintenance contractor, is on scene to repair the potholes that range from 1 to 5 feet in diameter.

The repairs are expected to take several hours to complete.


New Years Holiday Brings Schedule Changes to Local Buses, Trains

121212 VRE

OmniRide and OmniLink buses in Prince William, Manassas, and Manassas Park will have limited service on Tuesday.

More from the operator of the buses, the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commissionv:


Regular service. PRTC will provide a few extra midday and early afternoon OmniRide buses to handle anticipated overflow. To avoid possible overcrowding you may consider taking Metrorail or other regional bus and transfer to a Metro Direct bus to complete your commute.



Virginia Railway Express will also have modified service next week leading up to New Years Eve.

More from VRE:

VRE will operate an “S” schedule on December 26th, 27th, 30th and on New Years Eve December 31st. VRE will not operate on January 1st. Regular service will resume on Thursday, January 2, 2014.

In Stafford County, there will be no FRED Bus Service on New Years Day (Wednesday).


Scites Killed after Motorcycle Crash

DUMFRIES, Va. — A Dumfries riding a motorcycle crashed and died from his injuries.

More in a police report:

Crash – Fatality – On December 23rd at 11:36AM, investigators from the Crash Investigation Unit responded to the 17800 block of Mine Rd in Dumfries (22026) to investigate a motorcycle crash.

The investigation revealed that the operator of a 2002 Yamaha 250 motorcycle was riding on an open field in the above area when he lost control and struck guide wires attached to a utility pole. No other vehicles or persons were involved. The operator returned to his residence where he died from apparent internal injuries later in the day.


The operator of the 2002 Yamaha 250 motorcycle was identified as Samuel James SCITES, 48, of Dumfries

Telegraph Bridge Reopening Planned, Will Reconnect Quantico with U.S. 1

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QUANTICO, Va. — A new bridge that will connect the west side of Quantico Marine Corps Base with U.S. 1 is nearly complete.

The reconstructed bridge carries traffic via Telegraph Road over Interstate 95 onto a portion of the base where the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is located, as well as the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

Work to rebuild the bridge began this past spring.

More in a press release:

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) announced that the new Telegraph Road Bridge, which crosses over I-95, near Marine Core Base Quantico (MCBQ) is in its final stage of construction. Crews are completing finishing work on the new bridge deck, as well as the fencing.

The bridge will remain closed to traffic until early February 2014 to accommodate a MCBQ construction project at the nearby Russell Knox Building. MCBQ will use the Telegraph Road corridor (specifically areas west of the bridge on Quantico property) for staging and the safe delivery of concrete beams to the construction site at the Russell Knox Building. Truck deliveries may occur 24 hours a day using Telegraph Road, Tallmadge Road and Russell Road, but will not be crossing the bridge.

Drivers will continue to follow current detour signs to U.S. Route 1 or Russell Road in order to access I-95 or Telegraph Road. Drivers should continue to expect an additional five to eight minute delay during peak travel times.

Construction of the new Telegraph Road Bridge began last April, at which time the old bridge was closed and demolished. The bridge spans over I-95 and the future new Express Lanes.

Lane Closures Lifted, HOV Changes for Christmas

Interstate 95 south at Dumfries [Photo: Uriah Kiser/Potomac Local News]

Starting a noon today, all regularly scheduled highway construction lane closures were lifted for Christmas. This will allow for easier travel on the state’s highways and Interstates, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The lane closures will resume Thursday.

There are also changes to the HOV lanes between Dumfries and the Pentagon.

More in a press release:


High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) restrictions on interstates 66, 95 and 395 will be affected by the year-end holidays.


Tuesday, Dec. 24: Normal HOV restrictions are in effect. Interstate 95/395 reversible lanes will remain southbound Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day.

Wednesday, Dec. 25: HOV restrictions on I-95, I-395 and Interstate 66 are lifted. I-95/395 reversible lanes will remain southbound until midnight Christmas Day and switch to northbound by 2 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 26.

Thursday, Dec. 26: Normal HOV restrictions are in effect.

New Year’s Tuesday, Dec. 31: Normal HOV restrictions are in effect. I-95/395 reversible lanes will remain southbound New Year’s Eve night and New Year’s Day.

Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014: HOV restrictions on I-95, I-395 and I-66 are lifted. I-95/395 reversible lanes will remain southbound until midnight New Year’s Day and switch to northbound by 2 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.

Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014: Normal HOV restrictions are in effect.

I-95 Express Lanes construction: VDOT will restrict lane closures on I-95 in the Express Lanes work zone from 5 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 24, until 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 26, and again from 5 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31, until 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.

Additionally, there will be no daytime lane closures in the 29-mile work zone during the weekends of Dec. 21-22, Dec. 28-29 and Jan. 4-5, 2014. All overnight lane closures must be reopened by 7 a.m. on these weekends in the general purpose lanes.


Limited Bus, Train Service for Holidays

Many of the OmniRide local bus routes that serve eastern Prince William County stop at the PRTC Transit Center in Woodbridge.

There will be limited bus service in Prince William, Manassas, and Manassas Park today and no service tomorrow, Christmas.

More in a press notice from the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission that operates OmniRide and OmniLink buses:


• OmniRide Commuter Bus and Metro Direct – Modified Holiday schedule-limited service. See designated trips on schedules. PRTC will provide a few extra midday and early afternoon OmniRide buses to handle anticipated overflow. To avoid possible overcrowding you may consider taking Metrorail or other regional bus and transfer to a Metro Direct bus to complete your commute.

• OmniLink Local Bus and Cross County Connector – Regular Service

NOTE: The PRTC Transit Center will be closed on Tuesday, December 24.

Virginia Railway Express trains will offer regular service today, but no service will be offered on Christmas Day.

Additionally, all trains will operate on an “S” schedule Dec. 28 through Dec. 30. Only trains with S marked on the schedule will operate. 


Students Injured in School Bus vs. Car Crash

(Photo: Prince William County Public Schools)

HAYMARKET, Va. — Some Alvey Elementary School students suffered minor injuries Thursday morning after riding on a school bus that collided with a car this morning.

More in a statement from Prince William County Public Schools:

Emergency crews responded to a minor accident after Alvey Bus #355 was hit by a car this morning. Some students complained of minor injuries, and two were transported to the hospital to be checked out. Injuries do not appear serious. Parents of all students aboard are being contacted directly.

A second bus was transporting the students to school.

Alvey Elementary School is located near Haymarket.

Icy Spots on Area Road This Morning

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — Road crews are working this morning to clear icy spots on area roads.

More in a press release from VDOT:

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews are patrolling Interstate 95 this morning in the Fredericksburg District, along with primary and secondary roads in Caroline, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties, to apply abrasives for isolated areas of ice. Motorists should proceed with caution as they drive this morning, especially on low-volume roads, bridges, interstate ramps and overpasses. Due to lower surface temperatures, or less traffic, these areas are more likely to develop ice.


Car on Embankment, Portion of Sudley Manor Drive Closed


MANASSAS, Va. — A car drove up an embankment at the Bull Run Shopping Center near Manassas.

Police, as well as fire and rescue crews were called to the scene near the intersection of Sudley Manor Drive and Ashton Avenue about 12:30 p.m.

A portion of Sudley Manor Drive in the direction of Ashton Avenue was closed following the crash.

It’s unclear at this time if there were any serious injuries.

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No Foul Play in Death of Driver Found Behind Wheel

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — It appears no foul play was involved in the death of a man found inside a car that ran off the Blackburn Road in Woodbridge.

Here’s the latest in an unedited police report:

Death Investigation – On December 12th, following an autopsy, investigators have reclassified this incident as a death investigation. The investigation revealed that the victim was involved in a crash in which his vehicle left the roadway however an autopsy performed this morning revealed no signs of trauma from the crash or foul play. Detectives have confirmed the identity of the victim as the man reported missing from Seat Pleasant, MD on Monday. The investigation continues as investigators await toxicology results from the Medical Examiner’s Office.


The victim has been identified as Frankie Neal STEWART, 57, of Seat Pleasant, MD


Car Hits Embankment, Driver Killed

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – The driver of a Chrysler 200 was killed Wednesday morning when his car ran off the road in Woodbridge.

More in a police report:

Crash Fatality – On December 11th at 7:17AM, police responded to the area of Jefferson Davis Hwy and Blackburn Rd for a crash. The investigation revealed that the driver, and only occupant of a 2013 Chrysler 200, was traveling southbound on Jefferson Davis Hwy in the above area when his vehicle left the roadway and crashed into the embankment.

The driver of the vehicle was pronounced [dead] at the scene. The driver’s identity will be released when positively identified by the Medical Examiner’s Office. Investigation continues.


The driver of the 2013 Chrysler 200 was identified as an adult male


Lanes Closing Tonight for Sign Crews

022112 sign removal

DALE CITY, Va. — Road crews along Interstate 95 in Prince William County will be working on highway signs. That means they’ll have close down some lanes to get the job done tonight.

Where they’ll be working:

Wednesday, Dec. 11 to Thursday, Dec. 12, drivers can expect overnight lane closures on northbound Interstate 95, eastbound Route 29 and Route 50. Crews will begin setting several full-span overhead sign structures and cantilever sign structures. Lane closures are as follows:

10 p.m. – 5:30 a.m.:

Northbound I-95 will close two of three lanes from Dale City to Cardinal Drive.

Crews will also be working in two areas of Fairfax County:

8 p.m. – 5:30 a.m.:

Eastbound Route 50 will close one of four lanes from the ramp to northbound I-495 to Fairview Park Drive.

10 p.m. – 5:30 a.m.:

Eastbound Route 29 will close two of four lanes from Summit Drive to the Fairfax County Parkway.

VRE Riders Can Bring Toys for Tots on Train Wednesday

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Manassas, Woodbridge train stations to also serve as drop off sites Dec. 14

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Riders who use Virginia Railway Express are urged to bring a new unwrapped toy with them tomorrow to the train station.

The commuter railroad in its annual “Toys for Tots” drive will collect those toys for needy children.

More in a press release:

Tomorrow, Wednesday, December 11th, we will hold our annual on board “Toys for Tots” drive. On that day only, all riders are invited to bring a new unwrapped toy with them on the train (morning commute only), and leave it on their seat as they detrain. VRE “elves” will collect the toys at the end of each run. Conductors will also collect checks and cash on that day for those of you who would prefer to let someone else do the shopping. (Checks should be made payable to: Toys for Tots).

Once toys, cash and checks are collected, the U.S. Marine Corps will collect all donations.

If you know you won’t be riding VRE on December 11th, feel free to drop off a toy during our Santa Train event scheduled for Saturday, December 14th.

Participating stations include: Fredericksburg, Woodbridge, Burke Centre, and Manassas.

We have participated in the Toys for Tots program for 17 years now and it’s been incredibly gratifying to know that our riders have helped so many families share in the fun tradition of opening new gifts during the holiday season.


Free Rides on Saturday Prince William Metro Direct Bus Extended into Spring

OmniRide bus operator Phill Robinson is one of many PRTC drivers who ferry riders to and from their destinations.

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Here’s some good news for those who take the bus from Woodbridge to the Springfield Metro station on Saturdays – the service will be extended, and it still won’t cost you a dime out of pocket.

The Prince William Metro Direct Bus that runs from Woodbridge to the Franconia-Springfield Metro station on Saturdays will continue providing free service on Saturdays only through May 17, 2014.

Bus fares are covered by the state as part of the Virginia Megaprojects program overseeing the construction of express toll lanes on Interstate 95.

Beginning in September, the Metro Direct bus, for the first time, provided service on Saturday – something bus riders in Prince William County had long requested. During its three-month trial period, the service has caught on.

“When Saturday Prince William Metro Direct service started in September, we were expecting that the service would carry about 300 riders per day at the three month mark. Happily, we’ve averaged about 400 riders per day, and the high ridership mark was set on Nov. 16 with 471 passengers,” said Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo.

The Saturday Metro Direct bus starts its day at 7:35 a.m. at the PRTC Transit Center in Woodbridge, then heading down Opitz Boulevard and then onto U.S. 1 north before merging onto Interstate 95. Its return trip from the Metro station stops at Potomac Mills Mall.

The last trip from the Transit Center leaves at 8:55 p.m., and the last trip from the Metro station is 9:25 p.m.

During the week, it costs $3.60 for a regular one-way fare, $2.90 for SmarTrip users, to ride Metro Direct.

While the Prince William Metro Direct is the only Metro Direct service to run on weekends, it is one of two PRTC Metro Direct buses that travel between Prince William and Manassas and Metro stations near the Capital Beltway. The Manassas Metro Direct ferries passengers from Manassas and western Prince William County to and from the West Falls Church Metro station.

OmniLink Bus will miss 4 Dumfries Stops Today

New OmniLink buses that serve Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park. The buses have a new look more aligned with the overall color scheme for the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission. [Submitted photo]

DUMFRIES, Va. — OmniLink buses in Dumfries today will miss some stops after a tree fell onto Fuller Heights Road.

According to the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, the following stops will be missed:

Missed stops:

–Fuller Heights before Kerill Rd. (northbound and southbound trips)

–Fuller Heights after Perry St. (Quantico Court Apartments)

–The Lofts at Little Creek

–Fuller Heights at Bethlehem Church Rd.

Alternate stop:

–Fuller Heights near Old Triangle Rd (7-11)


VDOT: Northern Virginia Roads will be ‘Treacherous’ Monday Morning

It will be a slick and icy commute for those headed to work tomorrow morning.

While the snow and sleet that fell during much of Sunday has cleared the area, the Virginia Department of Transportations says more precipitation – this time in the form of freezing rain – is headed our way.

Road crews have been out all day long treating the roads. School systems in Fairfax and Loudoun counties have already canceled classes Monday.

Here’s more on what to expect on the roads Monday morning in a press release from VDOT:

More than 2,000 salt trucks and plows are working to keep roads passable in northern Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Crews are plowing as well as heavily salting roads and will continue to do so through tomorrow morning’s rush hours.

While roads are passable, ramps, bridges and underpasses are treacherous and are likely to remain so until temperatures rise sometime tomorrow morning.

“We are urging folks to stay off the road today and to delay travel in the morning until conditions improve,” said Branco Vlacich, head of maintenance for VDOT in northern Virginia. “While crews are keeping up with the storm for now, we expect conditions to deteriorate as the snow turns into freezing rain.”

Here’s information from VDOT on conditions across the state:

T he Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews have been out in force through the weekend treating roads to keep them as safe as possible. Crews will continue to work through the night and early morning hours to treat icy areas with sand and abrasives.

Currently all major roadways are clear and open with minor to moderate conditions along the I-81corridor in the northwestern region, I-66 in the Culpeper region and I-64 in the western region of the commonwealth. There are also icy patches on portions of I-95 north of Richmond

Freezing rain is expected to continue overnight for the Salem, Staunton, Culpeper, Lynchburg, Northern Virginia, northwest Fredericksburg, and far west Richmond districts. This amount of ice may cause power line issues.

Commuters are urged to call 511 or visit before they get behind the wheel to get the latest information on road conditions.


PRTC Rolls Out New Passenger Info System, Works Out Minor Kinks

Many riders begin and end their commutes, or transfer to other PRTC buses at the agency’s Transit Center in Woodbridge.

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — A new system will provide real-time information for local transit buses.

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission on Nov. 19 deployed “Transit Now,” a new technology that replaces old tech that supported the “Rider Express” email notification system that sends service alerts to passengers. The new system will be used in the same way but is directly tied into the computer aided dispatch system used by the commission’s OmniRide and OmniLink buses.

PRTC spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo states the system is used for various of reasons:

We send a variety of messages through Rider Express. Most messages deal

with issues that affect the daily commute, such as delays because of an

accident or missed bus stops because a road is closed. Here are a few

other examples of messages that are sent through the system:

–ESP in effect because of winter weather or another type of emergency

–Holiday notices

–Public hearings about the PRTC budget

–Notification about transit studies that could impact our service area

Signing up for Rider Express is free. Those who were already registered for the Rider Express service will continue to receive notifications. 

The Cedar Rapids, IA-based company Trapeze, contracted to provide the Transit Now service, is still working out the kinks. A limit on the number of characters that could be included in a message needs to be relaxed. And, those using the Internet Explorer browser to use the Rider Express System will be prompted to download Java, according to PRTC documents. These modifications were expected to be made by Dec. 5.

The transit agency sent out the following notice to passengers informing them about the change and urging them to customize their accounts for more pinpointed information: 

Am I Still Registered to Receive Messages?

If you signed up for Rider Express messages in the past, you are now registered in the new system to receive messages for all routes and categories. However, if you subscribed only a phone number and did not provide an email address, you will still receive messages but you will not be able to log on to the new system to customize your account. In order to customize and take advantage of new features, those who subscribed only with a phone number should send an email to (type Rider Express in the subject line) and list the phone number you previously registered and the email address that you would like to add to your account. PRTC will contact you once your account has been updated.

What do I Need to Do Now?

PRTC recommends that you customize your account to receive messages only about the routes you use. This will also allow you to take advantage of some new features that are now available! Please visit the Rider Express page on our website and follow these instructions:

• On the user login page, click “Generate New Password.” (Your password was not saved in the old system and therefore, could not be exported to the new system.)

• Enter your previously registered email address and click “Submit.”

• Open the email that will be sent to the address you previously registered and use the computer-generated password to log on to the new Rider Express site.

• Click the “Change Login Credentials” icon and follow instructions to change your password.

• NOTE: If you previously registered more than one email address, you now have more than one account and will need to follow these steps to register each email address.

• After establishing a new password, you can customize the types of alerts you want to receive and the time periods when you receive them.

• If you bookmarked the old Rider Express page, you will need to do so again to capture the new page.

Why was the Rider Express System Changed?

Because eventually, this new system will provide you with real-time data so you can more efficiently plan your trips and know exactly when your bus will arrive! PRTC anticipates that real-time data features will be available by Fall 2014.

What New Features are Available Now?

• Find the identification numbers for the bus stops you frequently use – If you know the identification number for your bus stop, you can set up alerts and get information about that location. If you don’t know the identification number, simply enter an address or nearby intersection and you will see a map with information about all nearby bus stops.

• Receive stop-based alerts – Let’s say you want to catch a bus at 4:05 p.m. at a particular bus stop. If you activate an alert for that bus stop, you will receive an email and/or text message at 3:55 p.m. reminding you that your bus is scheduled to arrive in 10 minutes. The alert also will inform you of the scheduled arrival times for the next two buses serving that bus stop. At first, this feature will be based on scheduled arrival times; later, when real-time information is available, the alerts will be based on up-to-the-minute data.

• Get information on all routes that serve a particular bus stop – From the main Rider Express page, you can select the bus stops you use most frequently and see a listing of all buses on all routes that serve that location, including scheduled arrival times.

• See links to PRTC’s Service Updates – When you visit the Rider Express page on our website, not only will you see the features already discussed, but you also can have easy access to the most-up-to-date service advisories at a glance in the panel on the right side. Eventually this feature will also push out real-time alerts about your preferred routes via email and text message.

Virginia’s New License Plate Law Benefits Military, RV & Motorcycle Owners

Va. 610 at I-95 in North Stafford. (Mary Davidson/

A new law taking affect Jan. 1 will allow drivers to keep license plates on recreational vehicles, as well as those that are not driven all-year-long.

Before the law, drivers had to surrender license plates for vehicles not in use.

More in a press release from Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Starting January 1, 2014, customers who operate Virginia-registered vehicles for only part of the year may temporarily deactivate their license plates and cancel the insurance without having to surrender the plates to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This new law will be beneficial for owners of seasonal vehicles such as motorcycles and RVs and active duty members of the military on deployment, if the vehicle is not being used.

Customers can easily deactivate and reactivate license plates online at or by calling DMV at (804) 497-7100.

To reactivate the plates, customers must:

• have no outstanding tax obligations on their motor vehicle

• provide insurance policy information or pay the unisured motor vehicle fee

• pay a $10 reactivation fee (if the registration has not expired)

“This new law will be of tremendous benefit to thousands of Virginians, including our military men and women deployed overseas,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb. “It will save customers a trip to DMV by allowing them to simply go online and deactivate their plates without having to surrender them to DMV. Customers can retain their plates and reactivate them when they are ready for the vehicle to be used.”

Customers should contact DMV when vehicle liability insurance is canceled during the registration period or may face stiff penalties if the vehicle is subsequently found uninsured.

For more information, visit


Renting a Car for Thanksgiving Travel? It’ll Cost More in Our Area

Long lines of cars streamed down U.S. 29 in Gainesville on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, as many travelers were headed out of town to reach their Thanksgiving destinations. [Uriah Kiser / Potomac Local News]

GAINESVILLE, Va. — The Thanksgiving breakaway is underway. In Gainesville this early afternoon, U.S. 29 south is increasingly congested as drivers make their way from Interstate 66 onto the thoroughfare that runs to Charlottesville and to points further south.

Today is widely considered the busiest travel days of the year in the U.S. AAA Mid-Atlantic estimates 960,000 people in the Washington area – nine out of 10 — will travel by car to their holiday destination. A recent round of winter weather for the Northeast, and rain for our area, hasn’t made the trip any easier.

But for traveling using a rental car, many were in for sticker shock as car rental rates were up as much as 40% at area airports this Thanksgiving. Drivers are expected to pay an average of $71 in weekend daily rental rates, up $22 from last year.

All of this comes as rental rates in other areas across the country actually cost less than they do here. Here’s more in a press release from AAA Mid-Atlantic:

After all, the size of the nation’s car rental fleet grew to 1.85 million vehicles during 2012, according to market research by auto rental analysts. That’s on par with 2007, before the industry was beset by the Great Recession, and the industry’s inventory of cars, vans, SUVs and luxury cars shrunk. Mid-way through the Great Recession, the car rental industry, which was reeling from the economic downturn and “yo-yo spikes and decreases in fuel prices,” trimmed its fleet. The industry sold more than 400,000 vehicles to the used car market in 2009, according to news reports. That, in turn, spawned a shortage in the available rolling stock of rental car units, causing caused rental prices to increase.

Last year, the traditional car rental industry staged a comeback as operators added new inventory, and is now a $24 billion a year business in the United States, industry bloggers say. Yet the big three car rental behemoths “control about 95 percent-plus” of the car rental marketplace across the United States, industry watchers say. Savvy travelers will always shop around for the best possible rental rates, and so should you, advises AAA Travel. In fact, “the number of car rental operators increased sharply by 10% in 2012, driven by low-priced independent operators,” industry analysts say.

Overall, AAA Mid-Atlantic says renting a vehicle can make some holiday trips easier, and they’ve provided some tips on how to save some cash in the process:

• Book early and research any available discounts. Don’t wait until the last minute.

• Shop around by visiting websites and talking to a travel agent to find the best rental rates.

• Look for pre-paid rate offers that may save you on the daily rate.

• Factor in both the base rate and total price, including all taxes and fees.

• Use a discount coupon and specify discount memberships and other non-standard car rental options.

• Do your homework on car insurance options.

• Take a deep dive into your car rental contract. Look out for hidden costs in the fine print.

• Return the rental vehicle with a full tank. so you are not assessed any extra charges.

• Before driving away from the car rental site, inspect your rental car and note any existing damages such as dents, scratches and any broken items.

• Take advantage of one-way car rental options that let you pick up and drop off a car at different local and airport locations, including different states.


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