Half-price bus fares as I-66 construction begins

i-66 toll map

Half-price bus fares and expanded carpool, vanpool and telework incentives are available beginning this month for commuters and employers along the I-66 corridor through programs sponsored by the Virginia Department of Transportation and local partners as part of the “Transform 66 Outside the Beltway” project.

The portion of I-66 that’s inside the Beltway already has the toll lanes being built outside and officials are trying to figure out what to do about tolls that have nearly hit $50 recently. Capping the tolls could lead to increased congestion, it’s feared. But leaving them uncapped is likely to lead to angry commuters.

Among questions already being heard around the region is whether everyone who uses the lanes during peak travel times — when tolls are highest — is paying the full fare (carpools and buses are exempt but everyone else is supposed to pay). Some “official” vehicles get a pass as well but no one is quite sure how many such government cars are using the toll lanes during peak hours.

Meanwhile, back outside the Beltway, the newly announced programs are supposed to encourage Northern Virginia residents and workers to find alternatives to driving alone on I-66 as construction accelerates on the 22.5-mile project corridor, which runs from I-495 to Route 29 near Gainesville.

Several years of construction

“The construction to improve I-66 will make driving in the corridor more challenging for the next several years while work is underway,” said Susan Shaw, VDOT Megaprojects Director. “As part of the Transform 66 project, VDOT has partnered with local governments and transportation providers to help commuters and other travelers stay mobile using alternatives to driving alone on I-66 during peak periods when traffic is usually at its worst.”

The program options generally make existing alternatives less expensive or more convenient for travelers, and include:

  • Half-price fares on Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) OmniRide I-66 bus routes from Gainesville and Manassas. Click for commuter bus information and schedules. Begins May 7, 2018.
  • Ride for one-dollar on select Fairfax Connector bus routes that operate on I-66 with service to the Vienna Metro. Click here to learn more about eligible bus routes and other Fairfax County commuter programs. Begins May 7, 2018.
  • New commuter bus service from Front Royal. New commuter bus service from Front Royal to Washington D.C., with stops tentatively planned at Rosslyn and Metro Center. Beginning June 2018.
  • Incentives to form a vanpool. Starting or joining a vanpool with other commuters traveling on I-66 is more affordable during construction. Significant financial support is available for people creating new vanpools on I-66, including a $200-per-seat subsidy and a $350 gas card incentive for operators of 10+ passenger vans. Learn more from Vanpool Alliance.
  • Incentives for new carpools. The region’s Commuter Connections’ Pool Rewards program provides up to $130 for new carpoolers through a trip-tracking process. Commuters who start a three-person carpool on I-66 through 2020 can receive an additional $100 cash reward. These carpools are also eligible for Commuter Connections’ Guaranteed Ride Home program. Visit Commuter Connections for more information and to sign up.
  • Incentives and employer assistance for telework programs. Virginia’s Telework!VA program provides technical advice, on-site assistance and financial incentives for employers interested in establishing a telework program. The Transform 66 project has boosted the financial incentive with a new subsidy of up to $10,000 for Northern Virginia employers within the greater I-66 corridor establishing a program that creates at least 10 new teleworkers.
  • Local governments support their own long-standing programs with expertise helping employers and residents with their commutes. In Northern Virginia, that includes ArlingtonFairfaxLoudoun, and Prince William counties.

Find additional program details and contact information on Transform66.org.

The Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project will transform 22.5 miles of I-66 providing two express lanes alongside three regular lanes from I-495 to Route 29 in Gainesville in each direction, with dedicated express lane access points, and space in the median reserved for future transit. In addition, the project consists of 4,000 new park and ride spaces, new and expanded bus service throughout the corridor, safety and operational improvements at key interchanges, auxiliary lanes between interchanges, and bicycle and pedestrian upgrades.

The Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project is a public-private partnership between the Commonwealth of Virginia and I-66 Express Mobility Partners (I-66 EMP). I-66 EMP is a consortium of Cintra, Meridiam Infrastructure, John Laing Group Plc. and APG, and their design-build contractor, FAM Construction, LLC, a partnership between Ferrovial Agroman US and Allan Myers, VA.

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.