The Washington region’s first bus rapid transit system is set to open next month.

The service, called Metroway, will feature bus-only lanes along a five-mile stretch of roadway in Crystal City and Potomac Yard in Arlington and Alexandria. It introduces a new bus experience to the Washington region: buses will travel much of the route traffic-free, they will be frequent, and riders eventually will be able to pay their fare before boarding.

Buses will serve stops equipped with shelters, benches and lighting between the Braddock Road and Crystal City Metro stations. In the next year, the bus stops also will be equipped with fare collection machines and displays showing bus arrival times, Metro said.

The service, which begins Aug. 24 and will be phased in over the next year, is expected to boost public transit along the Route 1 corridor and provide an easy transportation link between Arlington’s well-established Crystal City and the booming Potomac Yard area in northeast Alexandria.

The service will offer faster rides and shorter waits at the bus stop. Buses will travel most of the route in bus-only lanes. Bus rapid transit is viewed as a way to speed public transit without the huge costs involved in building rail lines.

In 2015, Metro will implement a pre-boarding payment system that officials say will make boarding faster and allow riders to board using all of a buses doors.

“We are extremely pleased to launch Metroway in the (Crystal City-Potomac Yard) Corridor, a first for Metro and the region,” Metro General Manager Richard Sarles said in a statement. “This new premium service will provide faster commutes, better connection to existing and developing retail areas, and expand economic growth within the Arlington and Alexandria communities along Route 1.”

Metroway service to start in August.
Metroway service to start in August.

Metroway buses will run every 12 minutes along the full route. During rush hour, customers will enjoy more service, every six minutes, between the Crystal City Metro station and South Glebe Road. On weekends, buses will run every 20 minutes.