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New pilot could add information screens to DASH buses

A DASH bus in Old Town Alexandria (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Alexandria’s DASH bus system is seeking state funding for a project to add new information screens inside the city’s buses.

A pilot program would install information screens that would help show things like upcoming stops, transfer connections, service alerts and more.

According to a grant application for $200,000:

This pilot would allow DASH to install two information screens onboard up to 10 buses that would display upcoming bus stops, transfer connections, service alerts, advertisements, and other customer outreach information. These infotainment screens would enhance overall accessibility and ease of use for DASH riders. DASH would be one of the first transit agencies in the state to install such screens on their buses and could install the screens on all buses going forward if the pilot is successful.

The project would require a 20% match from the city with an estimate that supporting the new screens would cost an additional $10,000-$15,000 annually.

Another $100,000 grant application would provide funding for new camera systems on buses to help bus operators see people or objects in blind spots created by the two front pillars on the bus.

“The screens would be mounted on the pillars to effectively remove these dangerous blind spots for bus operators,” the application said. “This could greatly improve bus and pedestrian safety and would promote ongoing Vision Zero objectives.”

The biggest application, though, is for $37 million request for operating assistance for rising labor and fuel costs. According to the application:

Operating assistance to jurisdictions is allocated based on system size and system performance for both DASH and DOT paratransit. Operating costs have increased over the past few years due to labor and fuel costs. The amount the Commonwealth can provide in operating assistance varies annually but has typically been between 20% and 30%.

The grant applications are scheduled for review at a City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

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