In April 2016, Arlington opened dedicated bus lanes in Crystal City and Potomac Yard. The lanes provide faster, more reliable trips for bus riders along the Route 1 corridor. Arlington plans to extend these bus lanes to Pentagon City.
In January 2016 the County Board approved an ordinance establishing the rules for how the new bus-only lanes are used and enforced. Details are below.
Rush hour bus lane (see map on right)
Where is it?
- Crystal Drive – In the northbound curbside lane between 26th and 15th Streets
- South Clark/Bell Street – In one southbound lane between 15th and 26th Streets
Who can use it?
Weekdays between 6 and 9 a.m. and 3:30 and 7 p.m.
- Only buses allowed
- Other vehicles may enter only to make a right turn at the next corner or driveway
Weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. and all day on Weekends
- Any vehicle – car, bike, truck or bus – may use the lane
Illuminated signs above the lane and signage along the street will indicate when the bus-only restriction is in force.
Exclusive bus lanes (see map on right)
Where are these?
Alongside South Glebe Road, Route 1 and Crystal Drive up to 26th Street. These newly built lanes are separated from general traffic by a curb.
Who can use these?
- Only authorized buses, such as Metroway, and emergency vehicles
- No cars, bikes or trucks allowed at any time
Signage at intersections will note these restrictions. Examples are below.
Select an image to see the full-size version.
- How do I identify a bus lane – what markings does it have?
- The rush hour bus lane in Crystal City is marked with diamond-shaped symbols on the pavement, as well as signs along the street and on overhead supports.
- The exclusive bus-only roadway in Potomac Yard is marked with diamond-shaped symbols on the pavement, the words “Bus Only” on the pavement, and “Do Not Enter” signs at all intersections.
- What transit vehicles are allowed to use the bus lanes?
- The bus lanes will be used by WMATA’s Metroway service, Metrobuses and Arlington’s ART buses.
- Can emergency vehicles use the bus lanes?
- Yes, emergency vehicles – ambulances, fire trucks, etc. – are allowed to use the bus lanes at all times.
- Will I be fined for driving in the bus-only lane?
- The County Board established a fine of $200, as allowed by state law, for violators of the bus-only lanes. This fine will not apply to drivers who use the rush hour bus-only lane to make a right turn at a corner or into a driveway.
- After the bus-only lanes opened on April 17, enforcement of the rules began with a transition period of 30 days, during which Arlington County Police will issue warnings and no fines will be imposed.
- As a driver, how do I make a right turn using the rush hour bus-only lane?
- A dashed lane marking indicates where you can enter the lane prior to a corner or driveway. Be sure to signal and safely enter as you are nearing your turn. Yield to oncoming buses before entering the lane.
- If I am exiting a driveway next to the bus lane, can I use the bus lane to merge into general traffic?
- Yes. Drivers may exit the driveway into the bus lane and then safely merge into the general traffic lane.
- Can I use the bus lane as a passing lane?
- Drivers may not use the bus-only lane as a passing lane during the times (weekdays between 6 and 9 a.m. and 3:30 and 7 p.m.) when the bus-only restriction is in force. During these rush hour time periods, other vehicles may enter the bus lane only to make a right turn at the next corner or driveway.
- Can cyclists use the bus lanes?
- Cyclists are allowed to use the bus lane where sharrows are marked on the pavement and the signage indicates “Bicycles OK.”
- Cyclists may not use the bus lane where a dedicated bike lane exists. There is a bike lane adjacent to the bus lane on southbound Clark Street between 20th and 26th Streets and on northbound Crystal Drive between 23rd and 15th Streets.
- Cyclists are also not allowed in the exclusive bus lanes in Potomac Yard, which are dedicated to buses 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week. Instead, riders should use the side path next to the bus-only lanes, or use the bike lanes on Potomac Avenue.
- Can drivers picking up sluggers use the bus lanes?
- No. Sluggers are carpoolers who catch rides with drivers looking to add passengers in order to meet the HOV requirement along I-66, I-95 and I-395, but carpool vehicles are not allowed to use the bus lanes.
- In Crystal City, the slug line location is at 1200 Crystal Drive, which is outside the area of the bus lanes, so sluggers should not be affected by the bus-only lane restrictions.
- Can taxis or Uber/Lyft vehicles use the bus lanes?
- These companies are subject to the same rules and fines as other drivers. During rush hour time periods, taxis and Uber/Lyft vehicles may enter the bus lane only to make a right turn at the next corner or driveway.
- How were the hours determined for the rush hour bus lane?
- The County determined the hours for the rush hour bus-only lane by analyzing traffic volumes and the frequency of bus service.
- During 2015, County staff had conversations with Crystal City residents and the business community about the proposed restrictions, and how general traffic – including turn movements – would be accommodated. In response to community feedback, staff reduced the hours of the rush hour lane restrictions from 10 hours per weekday to 6.5 hours per weekday.