Fairfax fine-tuning bus plans for Silver Line

Robert Thomson
Columnist February 9, 2013

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.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region. View Archive

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 fairfaxconnector@fairfaxcounty.gov, 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.

Overview

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

Merrifield-Vienna area

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.

McLean area

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.

Route 722: Weekday rush-hour service for Route 123, Churchill Road, McLean station.

Route 724: Weekday rush-hour service for Route 123, Lewinsville Road, Spring Hill RecreationCenter, Farm Credit Drive, McLean station, Spring Hill station.

Reston area

Route 551: Weekday rush-hour service for Reston South Park and Ride, Colts Neck, South Lakes, Wiehle-Reston East station.

Route 552: Weekday rush-hour service for Reston, North Shore , Wiehle-Reston East station.

Route 553: Weekday rush-hour service for Reston South Park and Ride, Lawyers Road, Twin Branches, Wiehle-Reston East station.

Route 554: Weekday rush-hour service for Reston, Center Harbor, Baron Cameron Park and Ride, Wiehle Avenue, Wiehle-Reston East station.

Route 557: Weekday rush-hour service for Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride, Glade Drive, Soapstone Drive, Sunrise Valley to Wiehle-Reston East station.

Route 574: All-week, all-day service for Reston Town Center, Reston, Leesburg Pike, Spring Hill station.

Route 585: Weekday all-day service for Route 28, Franklin Farm, Reston Parkway, Reston South Park and Ride, Wiehle-Reston East station.

Route 929: Weekday rush-hour service for Herndon, Franklin Farm, Centreville Road, Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride, Wiehle-Reston East station

Route 951: Weekday rush-hour service for Sunrise Valley, Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride, U.S. Geological Survey, Wiehle-Reston East station.

Route 952: Weekday rush-hour service for Sunset Hills, Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride, Wiehle-Reston East station.

Route 959: All-week, all-day service for Reston Town Center, Sunrise Valley, Sunset Hills, Reston North Park and Ride, Wiehle-Reston East station.

Herndon area

Route 924: Weekday rush-hour service for Herndon, Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride, Sunrise Valley to Wiehle-Reston East Metro station.

Route 926: Weekday rush-hour service for Herndon, Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride, Sunrise Valley to Wiehle-Reston East station.

Route 927: Weekday all-day service for Herndon, Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride to Wiehle-Reston East station.

Route 950: All-week, all-day service for Herndon, Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride, Reston Town Center, Sunrise Valley, Wiehle-Reston East station.

Route 980: Weekday rush-hour service for Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride, Reston Town Center to Wiehle-Reston East station.

Route 981: All-week, all-day service for Dulles International Airport, Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride, Reston Town Center to Wiehle-Reston East station.

Silver Line Circulator

Fairfax Connector plans to create four Circulator routes to link the four Metrorail stations in Tysons with major employers and services.

As other bus routes bring riders into the Tysons area, the four Circulator routes will provide what Christin Wegener, the Fairfax Connector chief in the transportation department, described as the “last mile” connection for people coming from or going to the Silver Line stations.

Route SLC1: Weekday all-day service for McLean station, Colshire, MITRE, Anderson Road, Great Falls Street, Route 123.

Route SLC2: All-week, all-day service for Greensboro Drive, Tysons Boulevard, International Drive, Spring Hill Road, Tysons Corner station.

Route SLC3: Weekday all-day service for Boone Boulevard, Ring Road, Tysons Galleria, Tysons Corner Center, Route 7, Greensboro station.

Route SLC4: Weekday all-day service for Westpark Drive, Jones Branch Road, International Drive, Tyco Road, Spring Hill station.

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