Metro touts a bus ride every 6 minutes on 'cool' Crystal City transit system

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Metro announced six-minute wait times and a "cool" blue design for the Washington area's first bus rapid transit system, scheduled to open in Northern Virginia next spring.

The five-mile corridor between the Pentagon City and Braddock Road Metro stations will have four miles of lanes dedicated exclusively to the buses, as well as 20 stops with seats, art, arrival information and machines to pay fares before boarding.

Two bus lines will operate on the corridor --one along the entire five miles between Braddock Road and Pentagon City, and another between Crystal City and the Potomac Yard shopping center. The buses will come as quickly as every six minutes during rush hour, every 12 minutes during off-peak hours and every 15 minutes on weekends, Metro staff said.

Arlington and Alexandria are footing most of the bill for the project, paying $38 million for the dedicated lanes, stations and buses.

"I'm really happy to be here at this day," said Metro board member Mary Hynes, who also serves on the Arlington County Board. "I think this is a good example of the kinds of partnerships that we will need as we move forward."

Metro also unveiled the design for the buses -- blue with vertical lines and the name "MetroWay" on the sides. Metro asked residents and nearby businesses what they thought about potential brands before they selected the bus design, including about 3,700 people who responded to an online survey.

"We identified some brand elements that we thought were important to communicate, including convenience, speed, and a certain 'cool factor' associated with premium transit service that would be the first of its kind in this region," Metro communications chief Lynn Bowersox said.

Bowersox said the design could be used on other bus rapid transit systems that Metro could operate in the future. Many lawmakers favor buses in dedicated lanes as cheaper alternatives to rail, and regional planners have mapped out a potential regionwide rapid bus system.

Metro hasn't set the fares for the buses, but expects 3,570 people to ride them every day by 2017.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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