The region’s most populous jurisdiction is planning for a shock to its transportation system. When Metro’s Silver Line opens, Fairfax County will double its total number of Metrorail stations and rearrange a big part of its bus fleet.
The changes anticipated for late this year could affect the travel patterns of nearly half the 38,000 weekday riders on Fairfax Connector buses. So a large part of the remaining task for the county’s transportation department involves listening to the riders’ concerns, then getting the word around once a final plan for new bus routes is adopted.
Some transit riders will be asked to change their habits, perhaps taking a bus to the Silver Line’s new Wiehle Avenue Metro station in the Reston area rather than to the Orange Line’s West Falls Church station, or using trains instead of riding express buses.
But Tom Biesiadny, the director of the county’s transportation department, said the agency also hopes to greatly increase the number of people taking buses and trains instead of driving cars. Planners said the time saved on long bus trips to reach Orange Line stations can be reinvested in more frequent trips to Silver Line stations, something they hope will increase the popularity of the bus service.
Transportation administrators have been taking their plans on a countywide tour to explain them to the public and get reactions. That review will continue till the end of February. In April, they will go back to the public with a revised plan before asking the approval of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in May or June.
Later, the transportation department will use various forms of advertising, social media and face-to-face outreach to inform riders and the general public about the service changes. Metrobus has been going through a similar process for some of its routes in Fairfax County.
Here’s a guide to the Fairfax Connector plan, which will start the day the Silver Line opens, though that date has not been set. Comments on the proposed changes can be sent to email@example.com, or submitted by calling 703-877-5600, TTY 711. Write to Fairfax County Department of Transportation, Attn: Fairfax Connector Dulles Rail Bus Service Plan, 4050 Legato Rd., Suite 400, Fairfax, Va. 22033.
The plan adds or modifies 32 Fairfax Connector routes, while eliminating six others.
In Herndon and Reston, routes that serve the West Falls Church Metro station will be diverted to the new Wiehle-Reston East station, at the west end of the Silver Line’s first phase. In McLean and Vienna, new routes will be created and existing routes modified to serve the new Metro stations. In Tysons, four Silver Line Circulator bus routes will be created to serve its four new Metro stations.
Some commuters and neighborhood residents have questions about the safety of routes and access to bus stops. Other bus riders say routing changes could make their commutes longer and more complicated. Retirees want to make sure there’s enough off-peak service to meet their needs.
The planners say they will address these concerns, and they could revise routes, but the results also depend on the bus system’s resources. Only the Wiehle-Reston East station is scheduled to have commuter parking. Kiss-and-ride lots will be available at the McLean and Spring Hill stations, but no other parking is planned for the Tysons stations.
Proposed for elimination
Routes 424, 427: Alternative service will be provided by the Silver Line and the new Tysons circulators, the county said.
Routes 505, 555: Riders will be asked to use buses on the new Route 959.
Routes 595, 597: Riders who now take these express buses between Reston and the Pentagon and Crystal City will be asked to use the Silver and Blue lines instead.
New or modified routes
Route 401: All-week, all-day service for Franconia-Springfield Metro station, Dunn Loring Metro station, Annandale, Inova Fairfax Hospital, Merrifield, Tysons Corner Center, Tysons Corner Metro station.
Route 402: All-week, all-day service for Tysons Corner station, Tysons Corner Center, Merrifield, Inova Fairfax Hospital, Annandale, Dunn Loring station, Franconia-Springfield station.
Route 432: Weekday rush-hour service for Old Courthouse Road, Trap Road, Leesburg Pike (Route 7), Spring Hill Metro station.
Route 461: Weekday rush-hour service for Nutley Street, Tapawingo Road, Park Street, Malcolm Road, Flint Hill Road, Vienna Metro station.
Route 462: Weekday rush-hour service for Merrifield, Dunn Loring station, Tysons Corner station.
Route 463: All-week, all-day service for Vienna station, Town of Vienna, Tysons Corner station.
Route 434: Weekday rush-hour service for Dunn Loring station, Merrifield, West Falls Church station, McLean Metro station.
Route 720: All-week, all-day service for Chain Bridge Road, McLean, McLean Metro station.
Route 721: Weekday rush-hour service for Chain Bridge Road, McLean, Langley, McLean station.