WOODBRIDGE, VA – OmniRide will test a new style of commuter bus for several weeks in September, continuing to research what vehicles should be included in its fleet of the future.
The new bus that’s being tested features two exits – one at the front and one in the middle – so passengers can disembark quickly. Passengers will continue to enter at the front door where the fare box is located.
The second exit door also features a wheelchair ramp that leads to a low-floor area that accommodates two wheelchairs and a few seats. That design is a big change from OmniRide’s current Express bus fleet that lifts wheelchairs several feet up and into the bus.
The test bus is manufactured by Motor Coach Industries (MCI) and has 53 seats versus 57 on the MCI buses that comprise most of OmniRide’s current fleet.
“OmniRide Express buses are typically in service for an average of 16 years, so we want to be sure we think about our community’s future needs when purchasing new buses,” said Prince William County Supervisor Ruth Anderson, who also serves as chair of the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC), which oversees OmniRide.
During the evaluation period, the test bus will operate on a variety of OmniRide routes. Passengers will pay regular fares and will be asked to fill out a brief survey about the bus, its features and performance. OmniRide will consider riders’ comments in addition to feedback from bus operators and mechanics as decisions are made in the next year or so about future bus purchases.
In April 2019, OmniRide tested an 81-seat double deck bus on various routes for about 10 days and received more than 300 comments from passengers who had the opportunity to ride. Overall passengers strongly favored the addition of double deck buses to OmniRide’s fleet. In fact, only 3% said they wouldn’t recommend purchasing double deck buses, while 79% favored the purchase, and 18% were undecided or had no opinion.
The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC), operating as OmniRide, provides a variety of services in Prince William County, the City of Manassas and the City of Manassas Park including: OmniRide Express and OmniRide Local bus routes; OmniRide Ridesharing for the promotion of carpools and vanpools; and OmniRide Employer Services which helps businesses to implement and expand commuter benefit programs. PRTC also co-sponsors the Virginia Railway Express in partnership with the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.