Contributed by Mayor Earnie Porta
Occoquan, VA – Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta announced today that the Occoquan Transportation Co., LLC (OTC), picked up its 1,000thpassenger at the Amtrak Auto Train Station in Lorton this weekend. OTC is a private company established in 2013 by Porta with the goal of bringing individuals waiting at the Lorton Auto Train station to the Town of Occoquan to eat, shop, and relax before they start on their journey south. The service, which began regular operations in October, runs five days a week, and typically does two runs between noon and 1:00 p.m. The round-trip fare for passengers is $5, with children 12 & under riding for free.
“I’ve solicited direct feedback from almost every passenger,” said Porta, “and their experiences have been overwhelmingly positive.” More than 90% of the passengers have eaten while visiting Occoquan, according to Porta, and approximately 1/3 of them have also purchased retail items. “Most pledge to visit again in the future.”
Porta expressed his gratitude for the positive way in which Occoquan businesses, residents, and others, have treated the Auto Train visitors, and is especially grateful to businesses like the Blue Arbor Café and Polka Dot Divas, who have advertised on the shuttle. “Over the longer-term, advertising from Occoquan businesses will be critical to the sustainability of the enterprise,” says Porta. “It’s a very low margin operation, and with limited time available before the train leaves, advertising does influence the choices shuttle passengers make while here.”
To-date, according to Porta, 1,022 people have taken the sightseeing shuttle, and 948 of them have been first time visitors to Occoquan. Porta does all the driving on the shuttle and has two stops, one in Occoquan and one at the Workhouse Arts Center. Though it is possible to do both locations, the overwhelming majority of passengers stop and eat or shop in Occoquan. Passengers are given a quick tour of the historic business district so they can hear a little bit about the town’s history and see the various options they have available to them. They are then dropped off in front of the County Tourist Information Center or at the Mill House Museum. Most spend 75-90 minutes in town before being taken back to Lorton to board the Auto Train at 2:30 p.m.
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