News of transportation and transit across Arlington.

ART SEES RIDERSHIP IMPROVEMENT IN NEW DATA: There is some cautious optimism among regional transportation officials that the Arlington Transit – ART – bus service may be turning a corner after several years of declining passenger counts.

The bus system, operated by a private firm under contract to the Arlington government, recorded a ridership of about 757,600 in the three-month period ending June 30, according to figures reported to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.

That’s a rise of 2 percent from the same period a year before.

But the system still has some ground to make up: Its average daily ridership in the fiscal year ending in June (9,434) was down from 11,350 two years before.

(Ridership on local transit systems has ebbed and flowed in recent years, in part, depending on whether portions of the Metrorail system are shut down for maintenance, which does skew direct apples-to-apples comparisons between various time frames.)

For the quarter ending in June, ART service represented 2.2 percent of all Northern Virginia transit usage. The total of 34.4 million trips during that period counts Metrorail, Metrobus, Virginia Railway Express and local/regional bus systems.

Also posting year-over-year increases for the period were the Fairfax County Connector, Fairfax City CUE, Loudoun County Transit and OmniRide/OmniLink (Prince William) bus systems. Metrorail ridership dropped 3 percent, with Metrobus and Virginia Railway Express service off slightly.

PROCEDURAL STEPS MOVE FORWARD ON NEW CRYSTAL CITY VRE STATION: With work continuing behind the scenes on the plan to relocate and expand Virginia Railway Express’s Crystal City station, the next major hurdle will be securing the final funding needed to make the project a reality.

The VRE operations board is seeking about $16 million in funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, about a third of the total cost of the project.

If funding can be attained, the project is anticipated for completion around 2023-24. Currently, it is in the design-development and environmental-study phases.

The operations board two years ago ratified a site east of Crystal Drive between 18th and 20th streets south to provide additional space for both trains and passengers, replacing the existing station nearby.

In September, the operations board approved a contract with a Massachusetts firm for engineering and environmental services related to the project.

The new station would provide an island platform about 850 feet in length, or about twice the length of the existing platform. The new station would be able to accommodate longer trains and, if service requirements warrant, two trains at one time.

(Residents of condominium units near the planned station voiced concerns about the site, citing pollution, noise and other concerns.)

The rail system is operated by the Potomac and Rappahannock Transit Commission and the Northern Virginia Transit Commission, with its operating board made up of officials from the various jurisdictions. County Board member Katie Cristol represents Arlington on the body.

Using trackage owned by CSX, VRE runs commuter service from points west and south into Alexandria, Arlington and the District of Columbia weekday mornings, then back out in the afternoon.

ARLINGTON PROJECT INCLUDED IN NEW FUNDING PROPOSAL: One maybe the loneliest number, but it is better than none, and Arlington officials appear likely to end up with one of their proposed projects approved for funding as part of the inaugural Interstate 395/95 Commuter Choice program.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission is recommending that the Commonwealth Transportation Board approve an Arlington request for $211,962 in funding to support the Commuter Store at the Pentagon Transit Center.

The facility serves about 2,000 people per month, providing information and ticketing. The funds will support its operations for a year.

The funding request was one of several submitted by Arlington officials as part of the Commuter Choice program, which will be funded using toll revenue from the I-95/395 toll lanes.

A number of other county proposals, including interchange upgrades to South Glebe Road and I-395, did not make the cut.

All told, local jurisdictions requested $31 million in funding for a variety of projects. The total being recommended for the top 10 is just over $18 million. An additional $800,000 is proposed for administration, oversight and marketing of the program.

STATE TRANSPORTATION AGENCIES TO HOST PUBLIC HEARING: The Commonwealth Transportation Board will host a community-feedback meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 6 p.m. at the Northern Virginia office of the Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive in Fairfax.

Representatives from the Virginia Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment, Virginia Department of Transportation and Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation will discuss current initiatives, answer questions and discuss ideas.

Meeting materials are slated to be online starting Oct. 15.

For information, see the Website at

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