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Fairfax riders say they feel stranded by plan to cut bus lines

As a bus takes them to the West Falls Church Metro station, Deloris Bailey, left, talks about her petition to save routes with fellow commuter Lina Patino. Fairfax County has proposed eliminating seven bus routes along with Sunday service, reducing the number of late-night trips and increasing fares.
As a bus takes them to the West Falls Church Metro station, Deloris Bailey, left, talks about her petition to save routes with fellow commuter Lina Patino. Fairfax County has proposed eliminating seven bus routes along with Sunday service, reducing the number of late-night trips and increasing fares. (Tracy A Woodward/the Washington Post)
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By Nicole Norfleet
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 29, 2010

One February night, a woman boarded Deloris Bailey's 553 Fairfax Connector and said, "They're going to cut our bus!"

Bailey and some fellow passengers were shocked: Bus service had already been reduced last year by almost 40 percent.

To get to work in the District, Reston commuters can ride the bus to the West Falls Church Metro station; join the tens of thousands of drivers on the road; or jockey for a spot at one of four park-and-ride lots, three of which are filled to capacity, and then take a bus to a Metro station.

For Bailey, 48, who has lived in Reston for more than a decade, the bus is the best option. She learned last month, however, that Fairfax County is planning to cut not only her bus line but also six other routes in June. As the bus traveled on Glade Drive, Bailey and other passengers discussed the mess that they think would ensue if the proposals took effect.

"It sounds like it's going to make more problems than it is going to solve," Bailey said later about the planned service reduction.

In February, Fairfax presented proposals for fiscal 2011 that would eliminate seven bus routes: the 552, 553, 554, 557, 929, 951 and 952. The proposals also include plans to eliminate Sunday service, reduce the number of late-night trips and increase fares.

Now, what started as a few e-mail exchanges among concerned riders has grown into a movement to save the Dulles corridor buses. Bailey created a Web site and Facebook group to help promote discussion. She also organized an online petition that has more than 250 signatures. She distributes fliers on the bus when commuting to and from work.

"It basically got started on the bus," Bailey said about the effort. "There's no meetings. There's no officers."

Her goal is to spread the word and make sure affected riders attend public hearings scheduled for April 6 through April 8 on the budget cuts. Bailey said she has spoken to several Fairfax officials, who told her to bring as many people to the hearings as she could to help get her message across.

If the Fairfax Connector changes are approved, they would take effect June 27.

If people cannot use the buses to get to the Metro station, more people will try to use the congested park-and-ride lots, Bailey said.

Three parking lots used by riders who commute from the nearby West Falls Church Metro station are at capacity, according to a 2009 county transit report.


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