Alexandria Transit Co. announced its plans to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Dash bus system throughout 2014. Dash will sponsor activities and offer special promotions that will last throughout the year to thank its customers for their loyal support of the city’s local bus system over the past 30 years and to attract new riders to its service.
The Dash bus system was born under the leadership of Alexandria Mayor Charles Beatley, who, in the early 1980s, promoted and championed the creation of a local bus system. In 1984, Dash, a customer-focused and responsive bus service was born. On March 11 of that year, the first Dash bus rolled down the streets of Alexandria.
The system started with 17 buses on four routes, with 30 employees, and carried a little over 900,000 passengers in its first full year of service. Today, Dash operates service with 79 buses on eight routes, with 160 employees, and operates the successful King Street Trolley. More than four million passengers ride Dash annually with an average of 14,500 customers each weekday. The King Street Trolley carries approximately 800,000 passengers annually.
ATC General Manager Sandy Modell cites Dash’s back-to-basics approach as the reason for the system’s success over the years. “Clean and well-maintained buses, friendly and courteous drivers, and a community-oriented service has been the recipe for our success,” Modell stated. “We have been very fortunate to hire and retain dedicated employees who understand the importance of excellent customer service and in providing Alexandria with high-quality transit service.”
In 2011, the ATC Board of Directors and the Alexandria City Council approved the purchase of the first low-floor hybrid electric Dash buses. Currently, ATC operates 20 low-floor, hybrid buses and five hybrid powered trolleys. These vehicles feature low-floor entry with no steps, which improves accessibility for persons with disabilities and senior citizens, and increases the overall efficiency and safety of passenger boardings and alightings.
As part of the purchase, ATC included new 40-foot buses to accommodate the increased ridership on the AT8 Duke Street route. This has helped to reduce overcrowding on that route and has made the customer experience more enjoyable. The hybrid Dash buses operate on an environmentally-friendly mix of ultra-low sulfur diesel and electricity. In August 2011, Dash launched the Mark Center Express service, which was implemented to provide frequent express service between the King Street Metro and the new Mark Center-BRAC133 Transit Station, and is paid for by the Department of Defense (DoD). This service has provided the Mark Center employees with an attractive transit alternative and has assisted BRAC with meeting their Transportation Management Plan (TMP) goals.
Dash is recognized nationally and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia for the high quality service it provides and has won many outstanding achievement and innovative awards over the years. Dash contributes to the quality of life and preserving the livability of Alexandria by mitigating traffic impacts, improving accessibility and mobility throughout the city, and providing connections between neighborhoods, retail and employment centers, high density residential developments, and the regional Metrorail and Virginia Railway Express commuter rail systems. Dash’s mission supports Alexandria’s Transportation Master Plan and contributes to the city’s Eco-City efforts by providing an environmentally friendly alternative to the single occupant vehicle. Dash serves a vital role and is an integral part of the Alexandria community.