By Amie Knowles
The Virginia Breeze bus company recently made a big announcement in time for the business’s second anniversary.
Starting this year, it will offer lines from Martinsville to Richmond and from Danville to Washington, D.C.
Part of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Virginia Breeze is an intercity bus service that connects commuters from place to place. It is funded entirely through the federal Rural Transit Assistance 5311 Program and ticket revenues. Virginia Breeze currently connects Blacksburg with Union Station in Washington, D.C. The existing route includes several stops in the New River Valley, Shenandoah Valley and Northern Virginia.
Jessica Cowardin, the public relations and marketing specialist with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, said plans for additional Virginia Breeze routes started taking shape shortly following the company’s initial launch.
“Based on a study in 2013, DRPT launched the original route between Blacksburg, Virginia, and Washington D.C. in 2017,” Cowardin said. “The Commonwealth quickly realized the success of this route and decided to explore other possible opportunities in Virginia with another study, which wrapped up in 2019. DRPT is now in the process of making those potential routes a reality.”
While particulars concerning bus stops and stations along the upcoming routes are still in the works, the company released a proposed route for each of the new lines.
Buses on the about 250-mile route from Danville to Union Station will travel along U.S. 29 and Interstate 66, including potential stops in pre-established Virginia Breeze locations like Lynchburg, Charlottesville and at Dulles International Airport. Additional stops along the Danville-to-D.C. route could include Altavista, Amherst, Lexington, Culpeper, Warrenton and Gainsville.
Buses along the approximately 190-mile route between Martinsville and Richmond will travel on an entirely new route for the company, which plans to create potential bus stops in Danville, South Boston, Hampden Sydney and Farmville.
“The major perk is that these are not just regional connections, but national connections that tie into the national bus network,” Cowardin said.
Exact routing and stop locations for both lines are still in development.
“Our goal is to ensure that all Virginians, regardless of where they live, have access to safe, affordable and reliable transportation,” said Jennifer Mitchell, director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
“Virginians have shown immense support for the Virginia Breeze, with ridership increasing year over year.”
First launched in December 2017, the Virginia Breeze served 20,686 riders in 2018.
Virginia Breeze ridership data shows the service carried 6,511 passengers in the third quarter of 2019 — a 28% increase over the second quarter of 2018.
The routes provide traveling opportunities for those commuting for business, schooling, vacation and many other reasons. Having a trained bus driver familiar with the route and traffic patterns takes stress off of individual drivers; they no longer have to worry about weaving through hundreds of cars, depending on spotty GPS signals in rural areas and finding a good place to fill up on gasoline – it’s all taken care of for them.
Virginia Breeze buses include roomy seating, a restroom, baggage storage, free Wi-Fi and in-seat power outlets.
While exact numbers aren’t yet available for the new Martinsville and Danville lines, Virginia Breeze fares currently range from $15 to $50.
“We are hoping for a launch [in] late spring 2020,” Cowardin said.
For more information, including northbound and southbound schedules, baggage requirements and ticket options, visit the Virginia Breeze website at www.virgini abreeze.org.