The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) relaunched its Virginia Breeze Intercity Bus service Friday. The popular service, connecting underserved, rural areas of Virginia along the I-81 and I-66 corridors to the national bus network, returns following the April 10, temporary suspension of service due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The highly successful Virginia Breeze Intercity Bus service route between Blacksburg and Washington, D.C., returned on July 24, under the new name Valley Flyer. Beginning Aug. 7, the Virginia Breeze Bus Lines will offer a total of three routes: the Valley Flyer, the Piedmont Express, which will connect Danville to Washington, D.C., along the U.S. 29 and I-66 corridors, and the Capital Connector, which will connect Martinsville to Richmond along U.S. 58 and route 360/15 and then continue on to Washington, D.C., via I-95.
“It is critical that our transportation system supports the recovery of the Commonwealth’s economy, creating greater access for Virginians,” Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine said. “As the Commonwealth’s only public intercity bus service, Virginia Breeze, now with three routes, will once again provide essential travel connections for communities across Virginia.”
“As our first state-sponsored intercity bus service, the Virginia Breeze’s inaugural route – now known as the Valley Flyer – exceeded all of our expectations,” said Jennifer Mitchell, Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation. “Last year, it provided a total of 33,210 rides, reducing congestion and providing essential travel alternatives for all Virginians.”
Virginia Breeze adopted new branding and taglines as well to better reflect the bus line’s mission: Connecting the Commonwealth. The new logo and bus wraps use vibrant and modern colors and typography embodying the movement and speed of transportation.
Tickets for all routes are available on the website starting today.
The Piedmont Express will provide daily roundtrip service with stops in Danville, Altavista, Lynchburg, Amherst, Charlottesville, Culpeper, Warrenton, Gainesville, Dulles Airport and Union Station. Ridership for this route is projected to be 10,050 annually.
The Capital Connector reestablishes intercity bus service from Martinsville to Richmond, providing daily trips with stops in Martinsville, Danville, South Boston, Farmville, and Richmond. It will also provide express service from Richmond to Washington, D.C., stopping at Union Station. DRPT anticipates 5,500 riders will take advantage of this route annually.
Customer and employee safety remains top of mind as passengers ease into riding the Virginia Breeze. As part of new safety measures, those passengers able to safely do so will be required to wear face coverings. Buses will also operate at 50 percent capacity, with an empty seat next to each passenger. Passengers traveling together, such as members of the same household, may sit together in a shared row. Additional safety guidelines are posted inside bus shelters, on buses, and virtually on social media and the website.
Funded by the federal Section 5311(f) rural intercity bus program as well as a farebox recovery rate of nearly 80 percent, Virginia Breeze has more than doubled initial projections and operates at no additional cost to the Commonwealth.