A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center on Friday, Aug. 4 to celebrate the beginning of the museum's new shuttle bus service. The service will allow visitors to travel to the museum for only $.50 each way, instead of paying the $12 parking fee.
THE NEW transportation system is part of an effort to provide more convenient transportation for museum visitors. Shuttle buses began running on July 12 in Loudoun County.
"This is an important milestone to celebrate," said Gen. Jack Dailey, director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
A key supporter of the shuttle bus service is Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th), who was present at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"I love this place," said Wolf of the museum, which is located adjacent to Dulles Airport. "I am proud and honored that it is in my district."
The system will allow visitors to board a shuttle bus at various locations and then be transported to the Udvar-Hazy Center. The shuttle stops at Wegmans and the AOL Headquarters off Route 28, Dulles Airport, Dulles Town Center, and also connnects to Washington Flyer buses.
The buses will operate from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday and will cost $.50 each way.
To provide the new service, Virginia Regional Transport Association (VRTA) collaborated with both Loudoun and Fairfax counties, as well as with the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Funding will be provided for a one-year period, which began on July 1 and will end on June 30, 2007.
"We spent a little bit of money that will make a tremendous difference," said Sully District Supervisor Michael Frey. After one year, local governments will decide whether or not to provide the funding needed for the service to continue.
Since the Shuttle Bus service began three weeks ago, it has had more then 600 riders. Wolf and other supporters of the new transportation system hope that the shuttle buses will encourage more local citizens to visit the museum.
"Not enough people take advantage of this jewel in their own backyards," said Mark McGregor, CEO of VRTA.
ADDITIONALLY, Wolf hopes that the more convenient method of transportation will encourage visitors from farther away. "We want to get the word out to places like Shenandoah and Winchester that this service is available," said Wolf.
During Friday's ceremony, Bruce Tulloch, Vice Chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, thanked Congressman Wolf and Gen. Dailey for all of their hard work. "Citizens are better off for what's happening here today," said Tulloch.
The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located at 14390 Air & Space Museum Pkwy, Chantilly. It displays 127 aircrafts, 143 large space artifacts, and more then 1,500 smaller artifacts. Also at the museum is an IMAX theater, flight and space simulators, and a public dining facility. Hours are from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily. (The museum is closed Dec. 25.) For more information, call 202-633-1000 or visit www.nasm.si.edu/udvarhazy. For information on the Shuttle Bus service, go to www.vatransit.org. Or contact: Kimberly Knoll, 540-338-1610, email@example.com.