When Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation announced two new routes for its popular Breeze inter-city bus service, the first thing I noticed was a dot on a map noting a potential new bus stop in Gainesville.
Since the Virginia Breeze launched two years ago offering service from Blacksburg to Washington, D.C., there have been no stops in Prince Willliam County.
However, a new stop in Gainesville is not a certainty. Here’s a portion of a press release from DRPT explaining the two new routes that will compliment the Blacksburg to D.C. route:
Starting in spring 2020, the new routes will connect Danville to Washington, D.C., and Martinsville to Richmond. Buses on the approximately 250-mile route from Danville to Washington Union Station will travel along U.S. Route 29 and Interstate 66, including potential stops in Lynchburg, Charlottesville and at Dulles International Airport. In addition, buses along the approximately 190-mile route between Martinsville and Richmond will have potential bus stops in Danville, South Boston, Hampden Sydney and Farmville. Exact routing and stop locations are still in development.
The potential bus stops mentioned in the press release, and the potential bus stop in Gainesville along Route 29, is dependent upon the results of a request for proposals DRPT sent asking bus private companies to bid on operating the new routes. In short, these potential stops are something DRPT would like to see, but it’s up to the private firms to say whether or not they’re serviceable, Emily Delross, DRPT’s statewide program manager told me on Tuesday.
The more stops along the route, the longer the trip for bus passengers, added Delross. The purpose of the Breeze buses is to connect rural areas of the state to inner-city bus hubs, where passengers can make connections to other destinations outside the state. The more links the state makes to bus service hubs, the more funding it gets from the Federal Transit Administration to offset the cost of operating the service, said Delross.
A 2013 study showed the need for inter-city bus service along the I-81 corridor. Private provider Dillons Bus Service is the contractor operating that line.
A 2019 study showed the new for the newly proposed routes between Danville and Washington, D.C., and Martinsville to Richmond.
Currently, there is no inter-city state bus service planned for the I-95 or I-64 corridors, which link the state’s two most populous areas: Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. “We have to look at where there is the greatest need [for service],” said Delross.
It’ll be another three to four years before DRPT conducts another study to determine where new inter-city bus service is needed.