- Supporting growing ART bus operation
- Even more space needed to maintain, park buses
The Arlington County Board today approved a $12.4 million contract with W.M. Schlosser Company, Inc. to build a new Arlington Transit (ART) bus facility in Crystal City, at South Eads and 32nd Streets. The facility, long included in the County’s Capital Improvement Plan, will provide crucial operational space for the County’s growing ART fleet, which has nearly 60 buses today and plans to grow to 90 by 2022.
The two-story facility will include:
- Light-duty maintenance bay
- Bus wash bay
- Compressed natural gas fueling station
Currently, washing and fueling services for ART buses are contracted from an adjacent Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) facility, at high cost and with very restricted hours. Building a County-owned facility will provide more flexibility for how ART fuels and maintains its vehicles.
“ART is an Arlington success story,” said County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “Over the past 10 years we’ve grown from ridership in the hundreds of thousands to nearly three million Arlington riders. We anticipate significantly more growth in riders in the next decade and more riders means that more buses will be needed to deliver excellent reliable service. This long-planned new facility will increase our ability to efficiently maintain and park our growing fleet.”
“But it will not solve the long-term need for additional bus storage for both ART and the APS school bus fleet,” Hynes continued. “We are looking forward to getting advice on how best to solve the on-going need for additional transit vehicle storage from the Community Facilities Study process and its efforts to build a community consensus around how best to use the limited public space we have to meet our growing community’s many needs.”
The Board voted unanimously to approve the contract under the Consent Agenda. To read the staff report on this item, visit the County website. Scroll down to Item # 24 on the Agenda for the May 16 Regular County Board Meeting.
Construction to start this summer
Construction is expected to begin this summer and will take approximately 18 months to complete. The facility is located on the edge of Crystal City and several established neighborhoods, so work will include upgrading the surrounding streetscape on South Eads Street and Jefferson Davis Highway, to improve the facility’s functionality and appearance.
The total budget for the ART bus facility and streetscape improvements is $17.6 million, which includes design, construction, construction management and related costs. Funding comes from a combination of state and regional funds and local commercial real estate tax revenues that may only be used for transportation.
Additional County bus facility space still needed
The new ART bus facility will not be large enough to meet all the County’s projected needs for ART facilities. It can house neither the entire existing ART fleet, nor accommodate all of the buses that will expand the fleet over the next decade. Heavy maintenance of ART buses will continue to take place outside of the County for the near future.
The need for additional space for bus maintenance and parking space is one of many County facilities needs being examined by the Community Facilities Study, a broad-based, year-long planning effort launched in January by the Arlington County Board and the Arlington School Board.
ART’s 15 routes inside Arlington County supplement Metrobus service. Started as peak-period shuttles to Metro, ART buses have become a staple of the County’s transportation system, with ridership growing from 650,000 annually in 2004 to nearly 3 million in the current fiscal year. ART’s fleet of 57 low-floor buses is environmentally friendly, operating on clean-burning compressed natural gas. Satisfaction with ART hit a new high in 2013, with 90 percent of riders saying they are satisfied or very satisfied with the service, based on the results of a ridership survey.