Commuters, creatures of habit, will be asked to create new habits. The initial success of one of the biggest transit projects in the nation depends on their willingness to try.
After all, there will be few new commuters around to board the Silver Line. During the first year at least, most of the weekday passengers will be commuters who shifted from an old route to a new route.
Here are answers to a few basic questions about the train service to begin early next year.
After construction began in 2009, I would occasionally ask officials involved in the project how long the train ride would take. The usual answer: “I think it’s in the environmental impact statement.”
Engineers aren’t much for marketing. But now Metro has offered more information about travel times.
The four new stations in Tysons — Spring Hill, Greensboro, Tysons Corner and McLean — will be two minutes apart by train. The station at the end of the line’s first phase is in the middle of the Dulles Toll Road about eight minutes west of Tysons.
A trip from Wiehle-Reston East station to Metro Center in downtown Washington will take 41 minutes.
Let’s say you live in the region’s core and plan to use the line to reach a job or shopping in Tysons. A trip from Rosslyn to the Tysons Corner station should take about 22 minutes.
Several factors will affect ridership. One is the location of the five new stations. Wiehle-Reston East is likely to be the most popular. It will have commuter parking, and also will be a bus hub. Some commuters who drive or take buses to Orange Line stations will find it more convenient to switch to Wiehle-Reston East. Fairfax Connector route changes will encourage that.
None of the four Tysons stations has a commuter parking garage, although there will be bus stops. Some limited parking will be available near the McLean station, east of the Capital Beltway. Planners anticipate that the biggest draw among the four will be the Tysons Corner station, nearest the shopping malls.
These are the estimates for daily ridership by station during the first year of operation.
Wiehle-Reston East: 16,400
Tysons Corner: 10,400
Spring Hill: 8,000
Lynn Bowersox, in charge of the marketing campaign for Metro, noted in a Wednesday night presentation to the Metro Riders’ Advisory Council that the most basic factor in ridership will be the number of people who are aware of the new line. Metro’s marketing research indicated that only about half of the potential customers know about it.