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Contributed by Prince William County
Getting back and forth between Prince William County and the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station on Saturdays will soon be easier, at least for a little while. On Sept. 14, The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) will launch Saturday bus service to the Metro station on its Prince William Metro Direct Bus Route.
“This is big news because Saturday service on this route is probably the number one request we’ve heard through the years,” said PRTC Spokeswoman Christine Rodrigo. “This is a three-month trial service funded entirely by Virginia Megaprojects, which is a collaboration of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).”
Rodrigo said state officials decided to fund the trial program to mitigate congestion caused by closure of the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on weekends as work continues on the construction of the Express Lanes on Interstates 95 and 395. “By offering weekend bus service, VDOT hopes fewer drivers will use the regular travel lanes on I-95 while construction is ongoing. Virginia Megaprojects wants to fund Saturday service now so that people will, hopefully, use the bus service rather than having vehicles on the road. They see that as a benefit.”
According to VDOT, through September, the HOV lanes will close on Friday nights and remain closed until Sunday afternoons. In October, the HOV lanes will close on Friday nights and remain closed until 4 a.m. Monday mornings.
Saturday bus rides on the route will be free during the three-month pilot program scheduled to run through December 28. “We are grateful for the opportunity to offer what is sure to be a valuable service to our passengers, and we thank the staff at Virginia Megaprojects for providing the funding to make this possible,” said PRTC Executive Director Alfred Harf.
Rodrigo said the buses could also bring more consumer business to the County on weekends. “You’ve got people who live in the Springfield area who might want to come to Potomac Mills, and now they have an easy way to get here.”
The Saturday Prince William Metro Direct service will start at 7:35 a.m. and end at 10 p.m. Buses will run every 45 minutes between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., and will run every 90 minutes at other times. Locally, buses will pick up and drop off passengers at Potomac Mills Mall and the PRTC Transit Center, where passengers also can transfer to OmniLink local buses serving eastern Prince William County. A map and timetable for the new Saturday route are available atwww.PRTCtransit.org.