The Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) received the Commonwealth Connectors Award at the annual American Planning Association (APA) Virginia conference in October 2020. The award recognizes DRPT’s successful planning and implementation of the Virginia Breeze intercity bus service.
In December 2017, DRPT launched the state’s first publicly operated intercity bus program with service between Blacksburg and Washington, D.C. catering to traveling students attending universities along the I-81 corridor. Branded as the Virginia Breeze, the service operates seven days a week and provides underserved rural communities with vital connections to urban areas.
Since its launch, the service has had a farebox recovery rate of 81 percent. There were a total of 19,300 riders in its first full year of operation, which surpassed the initial annual ridership projections of 7,125. In 2019, the route provided a total of 33,210 rides.
After a short suspension in service in response to COVID-19, the route between Blacksburg and Washington, D.C. returned in July 2020 under the new name Valley Flyer. Following the strong performance of the initial route, the service expanded to include two new routes in August 2020: the Valley Flyer; the Piedmont Express, which connects Danville to Washington, D.C., along the U.S. 29 and I-66 corridors; and the Capital Connector, which connects Martinsville to Richmond along the U.S. 58 and I-85 corridors, and then continue on to Washington, D.C., via I-95.
The program is funded through the Federal Transit Administration’s 5311(f) Intercity Bus Program, which allocates funds to states for services that fulfill intercity travel needs of rural areas. Eligible bus service must have luggage capacity, limited stops and regularly-scheduled service, and must make connections to the national intercity bus network.
"This recognition underscores the Commonwealth’s commitment to providing essential travel connections for all Virginians,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “As our first public intercity bus service, Virginia Breeze is supporting mobility and economic opportunity for communities across Virginia.”
Learn more about the service here: virginiabreeze.org