In a recent article for CityLab titled "Its Streetcar Plan Defeated, Arlington Looks to Better Buses," author Eric Jaffe wrote about the new plans the county of Arlington has to improve upon the current public transportation. County board member Libby Garvey told CityLab "she's very eager to improve local transit and hopes the county wastes no time advancing plans for a low-cost, bus-rapid transit-style alternative." The bus-rapid transit-style plan will still greatly improve mobility for Arlington residents and workers.
Read a few excerpts from the article:
"Let's design a system, plan it, and get it up and running as fast as we can," says Garvey. "It's important we move on and take our community forward. There's no reason to think we can't have a bus system that runs like and looks like a modern streetcar. Yes, we can, and we need to do it now."
A big reason for Garvey's optimism is that Arlington already evaluated a potential enhanced-bus line for Columbia Pike, back in 2012, as a possible alternative to the streetcar. (The report refers to the bus concept as TSM-2, for those who plan to wade through it themselves.) Looking back at that analysis today, the figures present a compelling case that BRT-style service could be nearly as effective as a streetcar in terms of mobility, at a fraction of the cost.
On system design, the two concepts are virtually identical. Both the streetcar and the enhanced bus would run five miles along Columbia Pike from Pentagon City in Arlington to Baileys Crossroads in neighboring Fairfax County. The proposed stop locations are the same, as are the station styles—featuring elevated platforms, off-board fare collection, all-door boarding, and real-time transit data. Both services would run every two or three minutes during peak hours.