Home ‘Valuable role in providing transportation’: Virginia Breeze routes achieve record ridership

‘Valuable role in providing transportation’: Virginia Breeze routes achieve record ridership

Rebecca Barnabi
Courtesy of Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

All four of The Virginia Breeze intercity bus service routes set all-time record ridership in fall 2023.

A record-breaking 7,837 people rode the Virginia Breeze in November 2023, a 19 percent increase over November 2022.

Managed by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) and funded through the Federal Transit Administration’s Intercity Bus Program, The Virginia Breeze is a vital intercity bus service connecting communities across the Commonwealth to larger cities and other major forms of transportation. Four routes are operated with service every day of the calendar year: the Valley Flyer (Blacksburg-Washington), the Piedmont Express (Danville-Washington), the Capital Connector (Martinsville-Richmond-Washington) and the Highlands Rhythm (Bristol-Washington).

“It is inspiring to see the soaring demand for the Virginia Breeze, which for six years has connected people across the Commonwealth and beyond,” DRPT Director Jennifer DeBruhl said. “The Breeze continues to set ridership records thanks to its customers who recognize its valuable role in providing transportation in rural and underserved areas.”

Each route has made a noteworthy achievement also. Valley Flyer, the busiest Virginia Breeze route along Interstate 81 in western Virginia, achieved an all-time high of 3,975 riders in November 2023, a 17 percent increase over November 2022. The Piedmont Express recorded record-breaking ridership with 907 passengers in November 2023, marking a 10 percent increase over November 2022. The Capital Connector set a record with 891 riders in November 2023, a 27 percent rise over November 2022. Another route along Interstate 81, the Highlands Rhythm achieved its highest ridership in October 2023 with 2,368 passengers, a 25 percent increase over October 2022.

Between January and November of this year, 53,138 people rode the Virginia Breeze. DRPT adds more buses to the routes at no additional cost to riders so as to accommodate growing demand. In November, DRPT added a record 48 additional buses.

DRPT is studying the creation of an east-west Virginia Breeze route that would connect the Staunton/Harrisonburg area and Virginia Beach area along the Interstate 64 corridor. The fifth route would fill a transportation gap between the two regions. DRPT is accepting public comment on the study. Virginians can fill out a survey or attend public meetings.

Two meetings are scheduled:

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.