(Updated April 5, 2013)
Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) General Manager Richard Sarles have agreed to review the design, construction and associated costs of the recently completed Walter Reed Transit Station. WMATA managed the construction as a reimbursable project for Arlington County, who designed the project.
The first of 24 planned Columbia Pike Transit Stations, formerly known as a Super Stop, has opened at Walter Reed East. The County is currently reassessing the design and timing of the roll out of its planned Columbia Pike Transit Stations in the wake of public concern about the recently opened Walter Reed Transit Station.
Transit Stations in Arlington
Arlington County recently opened our first transit station, formerly known as a Super Stop, at Walter Reed on Columbia Pike. The transit station is a bigger, better and more easily accessible stop designed to improve the commute for Metrobus and ART passengers along Columbia Pike and to attract more people to transit. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) built Arlington’s first transit station under a project agreement with the County.
Costs for this prototype were high, as was anticipated and typical for a first-time, custom-designed structure. Our design professionals and staff will observe the new stop in operation to determine necessary changes to improve function and bring down the costs of future transit stations.
About the Transit Station
The County plans to eventually build a total of 24 transit stations along Columbia Pike as we transform the Pike into a vibrant “main street” with more mixed-use, transit-oriented development. Much more than a bus stop, the transit station can be used by many modes.
The transit station offers commuters ample seating, enhanced lighting and electronic “real time” bus arrival information, as well as printed information and maps for bus routes and areas. The raised curb platform enables level boarding for buses, increasing accessibility. Heating elements, triggered by temperature and moisture controls in the pavement offer passengers comfort during colder weather.
Why Transit Stations on Columbia Pike?
The Pike is a major transportation corridor – in fact, Arlington’s original “main street” – and was considered for a Metrorail line in the 1960s, during initial planning for the system. The Pike has the highest transit ridership in Virginia outside a rail line. Columbia Pike bus services (Metrobus and ART bus) carry more than 16,000 weekday riders, comparable to many BRT, light rail and streetcar programs around the country.
Arlington is investing in the Pike to serve current riders, and to encourage more people to leave their cars behind and use transit. Our long-term plan for Pike transit builds on the our success over the years in influencing people’s commuting habits.
Transit stations will make it easier for people to use both buses, and ultimately, streetcar service along the Pike. These transit stations are designed to serve Columbia Pike and the County for the next 30 years.
Reducing Costs of the Transit Station
Costs for the first prototype were higher than the original budgeted amount of $835,000. The County, together with WMATA, is reviewing all expenditures on the Walter Reed Transit Station and will give a full public accounting. The County Manager also has ordered a pause in the transit station project while staff reviews the design and gathers riders’ feedback. We will not put any more transit stations out for bid until we have reviewed the design and identified potential cost reductions.
WMATA and its contractors constructed this prototype under a project agreement with Arlington. Changes in the design and materials and delays in permitting and construction caused the project’s completion to be delayed – not unusual in the design and construction of a prototype. Arlington revised its contract with WMATA, eliminating two other planned transit stations from the contract.