The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, which operates commuter buses in Prince William County, is starting two services Monday--one intended to ease congestion during the Springfield "mixing bowl" construction, and a second that will provide a "reverse commute" option for city dwellers who want to work in Prince William.
The reverse commute service, called the Prince William-Metro Direct, will run from 5:25 a.m. to 7:15 a.m. and cost $1.75 a trip. The U.S. Department of Transportation is paying about $115,000 of the $185,000 cost through an Access to Jobs Reverse Commute grant. The remaining funding will be picked up by the Virginia Railway Express.
Metro Direct will offer hourly weekday bus service that will stop at the Woodbridge VRE station, Potomac Mills and the Franconia-Springfield Metro station, said Eric Marx, director of planning and operations for PRTC.
PRTC officials hope that workers will take the Metro to Springfield, then catch the bus to jobs in and around the Potomac Mills area. PRTC also operates several buses that travel to other county locations from the mall.
Metro Direct will also provide a midday option for regular commuters who use VRE, Marx said. For example, commuters who take the VRE from Woodbridge can leave their office in the early afternoon, when VRE doesn't operate, on Metro. They can take Metro to Springfield, then use the Metro Direct service to get to the Woodbridge VRE station and their cars.
"It all works kind of well together," Marx said. Though the service costs $1.75, riders can show their VRE tickets and get a free trip to the Woodbridge station.
The congestion relief service, called the Mixing Bowl Express, will offer bus service to underserved areas: Montclair and the fast-growing South Route 1 corridor. Communities like River Oaks, Southbridge, Fox Run and Woodmark apartments will be able to take advantage of this service, Marx said.
Adding the Mixing Bowl Express has been two years in the making, Marx said. "With this one, we basically said, 'Where don't we have direct service now?' " Riders also had asked for service east of 14th Street, Marx said. The new service cost about $488,000 to start. The Mixing Bowl Express runs from Prince William to the new commuter lot at Interstate 95 and Route 234. It then continues to the Pentagon, up 14th Street into the District, then east to L'Enfant Plaza, stopping at major government employers along the way.
Fares are $5 cash or $3.50 with the purchase of a 10-ride token book.
Although riders will eventually pay to ride, from Monday to Oct. 29 all buses that travel the I-95 corridor are free. For more information, call 730-6664, or check out www.omniride.com on the Web.