Tysons express buses

An announcement by the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission’s commuter bus service shows one way the impact of the 495 Express Lanes system is evolving.

The PRTC issued a new timetable this month for its express bus service between Woodbridge and Tysons via the Capital Beltway. The updated schedule reflects the time savings along the express lanes, PRTC said in the announcement. Early experience shows the average bus trip using the new lanes saves about 20 minutes.

The Fairfax Connector, which now operates an express lanes bus service between Burke and Tysons, plans to add service this spring connecting Tysons with Springfield and Lorton.

Checking lane conditions

Drivers continue to puzzle over when it might be worth their while to use the express lanes. They can get one more clue by checking the express lanes’ Web site, The map that is part of the site’s “On the Road Now” page indicates traffic speeds in the lanes in the green, yellow, red color code familiar to users of online maps.

That at-a-glance information was unavailable for a while after the new lanes opened in November, because it was difficult for the lane sensors to translate speed readings into the color-code system. That problem has been overcome, said Pierce Coffee, an official with Transurban, operator of the lanes.

That’s a help, but there’s still no one place to look for all the information a driver might need to plan a Beltway trip before leaving home or office. Even when information about speeds in the regular lanes and the express lanes is available in one spot, it’s unclear how many drivers would look.

Our transportation network pushes out lots of information, but many commuters just get in their cars and go, rather than check conditions.

L’Enfant Plaza elevators

Metro is starting a modernization program on three of the four elevators at the busy L’Enfant Plaza station. The ones shut down connect the street to the station mezzanine, the mezzanine to the Green/Yellow Line platform for trains toward Branch Avenue and Huntington and the mezzanine to the Greenbelt side of the platform.

That leaves the elevator between the Blue/Orange Line platform and the northbound Green/Yellow Line platform.

Metro figures that by working on the three at the same time, it can shorten the project. The elevators should be back in service around the end of May. Meanwhile, some riders who need the elevators may find it easier to use the Metro Center and Gallery Place transfer stations.

Metro track work

In Metro’s schedule for major track work, March will come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. During the March 2-3 weekend, Metro plans major work on the Blue and Yellow lines. The Reagan National Airport station will be closed for this track circuit replacement project.

On the Red Line, buses will replace trains between NoMa-Gallaudet and Takoma. Rhode Island Avenue, Brookland and Fort Totten will be closed. Crews will be replacing track.

But after March 16-17, there’s no major weekend work scheduled for a month. Metro scales back the disruptions because of the extra crowds during the Cherry Blossom Festival, which is March 20 to April 14.

D.C. streetcars

The District Department of Transportation has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday to provide an update on the H Street/Benning Road streetcar project. Street construction is scheduled to continue through the fall, when streetcar testing will begin, DDOT said.

Officials will be on hand to address block-by-block concerns about the project. The session is scheduled for 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Miner Elementary School, 601 15th St. NE.

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