There was a brutal bit of math underlying the Silver Line’s first day. Although transit ridership in the region is up, most people still drive to work — and in more suburban communities such as Fairfax County, only a tiny fraction use public transportation.
At the Gulf filling station across the street from Tysons Corner Station Monday, drivers were calculating their own commuting pain threshold, in dollars, and more importantly for many, in minutes.
For many of them, getting on the train wasn’t worth it.
“I work in Bethesda. I hate going in to Metro Center just to go north,” said statistician Sarah Garland, who can make it from Vienna to her job in 25 minutes.
“It doesn’t do anything for me going downtown,” said Chris Button, who commutes from Northern Virginia to the Department of Homeland Security’s headquarters in the District. “We want to like it. It looks nice up there and it seems like a good idea,” he said of the Tysons Corner station. But until the line reaches Dulles International Airport years from now, he’ll have little reason to use it. The “real effect,” he said, will be in how the line impacts development in Tysons and destinations west.
Ashburn software engineer Bruno Vercillo said it makes no sense for him to get on the Dulles Toll Road, pay the toll, then get off at Wiehle and pay to get on the Metro to go the final distance to his job in Tysons.
“It’s not practical. It’s basically halfway,” Vercillo said. “At some point, I may consider how to actually do it. But I haven’t figured it out yet.”
But computer programmer Dennis Kaye, who made the morning rush hour commute from White Oak to Tysons in a well-worn Honda Accord Monday, may soon be swayed by the Silver Line.
It would be convoluted: driving (or taking a bus) to Silver Spring, then heading downtown to catch the train heading west.
“All that stuff is time,” Kaye said. “I’m playing with that. I want to get the kinks out of it first and then decide.”
It takes him 45 minutes to drive to Tysons in the morning. But headed home in the afternoon, it’s been averaging 45 minutes just to get to the American Legion Bridge, and it can take more than an hour more from there to reach his Montgomery County home.
He might lose time on the train in the a.m., but gain it back in the p.m.
“The aggravation on the Beltway would be alleviated,” Kaye said. “If the time’s equal to what I’ve got now,” letting the Metro do the driving would be way less stressful, he said.