BRISTOL, Va. – Virginia Breeze, a public-private partnership bus carrier serving Virginia and Washington, DC, will begin a new route to Bristol beginning Monday, November 15.
The company will launch its fourth route across the state, connecting the twin city to the nation’s capital, according to the Virginia Breeze website. Virginia Breeze intercity bus service is operated by Megabus in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
A ceremony is scheduled for Saturday in front of the Cradle of the Country Music Museum. The birthplace of Country Music Way, which includes traffic access at the Bristol Hotel, will be closed from 8:00 a.m. to noon.
Mayor Anthony Farnum said the addition of Virginia Breeze is “very exciting” news for Southwest Virginia.
“The Virginia Breeze will provide critically needed transportation service between Bristol and Washington, DC in a way that will make Southwest Virginians feel more connected,” Farnum said Monday.
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The Highlands Rhythm route should offer one northbound and one southbound trip every day, except in bad weather and other extenuating circumstances. The bus is scheduled to leave Bristol at 11 a.m. daily and offer eight stops before arriving in Washington, DC, at the Union Station Bus Bridge at 6:05 p.m.
A southbound bus is scheduled to leave Washington at 1 p.m. daily and arrive in Bristol at 8:10 p.m.
Departure and arrival will be at the Virginia Department of Transportation Park and Ride at Exit 5 of Interstate 81.
Other stops on the route include Wytheville, Radford, Christiansburg, Salem, Harrisonburg, Dulles International Airport, and West Falls Church subway station.
Bus tickets cost between $15 and $60, depending on the website.
Virginia Breeze began operations in December 2017, providing bus service along the I-81 corridor. It suspended operations last March as a result of the pandemic, then relaunched with two additional routes in August 2020.
Virginia Breeze currently operates its original northbound and southbound route connecting Blacksburg and Washington, DC, offering eight stops and a 6.5 hour journey. Its other two routes are the Capital Connector, which includes Martinsville, Danville, and Richmond, and the Piedmont Express, which includes Danville and Lynchburg, each connecting to Washington, DC.
With the Union Station connection in Washington, travelers can then take a Megabus or Amtrak train to cities along the Northeast Corridor including Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston or the subway to sites around the neighborhood.
When asked if the planned Hard Rock Bristol Casino Hotel project was a factor in securing the bus route, the mayor said people were already taking notice of the twin town and the region.
“Bristol is on the map, and the casino is helping with that. I hope that [bus] led to soon having passenger rail service at the station.
The city has worked for years to bring Amtrak service to and through Bristol. Governor Ralph Northam announced earlier this year that Amtrak will soon expand passenger service from Roanoke to the New River Valley.
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