The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) has recently announced that it will be expanding its intercity bus service into other areas of the Commonwealth, and this expansion will include new service in the West Piedmont Planning District. This new service could be considered an expansion across the state of the Virginia Breeze, which was the first intercity bus service launched by DRPT in 2017. The Virginia Breeze operates from Blacksburg, with a number of stops along the northbound I-81 corridor, and then east along I-66, providing service to Washington Dulles International Airport, and terminating at Union Station in Washington, D.C. The bus service has greatly exceeded ridership projections, transporting nearly three times as many passengers as anticipated during its first year of operation.
The DRPT now has funding available to launch similar service into other parts of Virginia including our region; the agency has been focusing on the central portion of the state for service expansion. As part of a study to determine optimum routes for the new service, stakeholder workshops took place in Ashland and Lynchburg in late March, and surveys were made available.
As a result of the study, two new routes were recently announced. One route will begin in Martinsville, head east along Route 58 and stop in Danville, after which it will continue east up the Route 360 corridor and terminate in Richmond. The second route will begin in Danville, and will continue up the Route 29 corridor, and will terminate in Washington, D.C. The routes are anticipated to begin in 2020, and schedules and stop locations will be forthcoming. The buses will likely provide contemporary amenities such as Wi-Fi and power outlets to enable passengers to use personal electronic devices.
These two new routes will provide a new travel option for cities within our region which are underserved in terms of intercity service. The tickets are likely to be relatively affordable, with tickets for the Virginia Breeze selling for between $15 and $50. The last time the region was served by intercity bus service was in 2016, when Greyhound served Danville.