Fairfax County should take responsibility from Metro for operating feeder bus service between the new Huntington subway station and the southern part of the county, according to a consultant's study released yesterday.
The county-commissioned study concludes that the county can save as much as $36.5 million in the next 20 years by creating its own feeder bus network in the communities south of the Beltway and east of Shirley Highway. The Huntington station on the Blue line, with which the buses would connect, is expected to open late next year.
Both the $58,000 study and its conclusions appear to underscore a trend in which local governments in the Washington area are finding it increasingly attractive to operate or franchise many bus routes on their own.
This trend, reflecting a belief on the part of the jurisdictions that Metrobus may be too costly and not adequately responsive to their needs, has been exemplified by such services as Montgomery County's Ride-On buses, which already serve much of the county.
The District of Columbia, Alexandria and Prince George's County have also commissioned studies or embarked on programs that appear to follow the trend, which, if continued, a Metro official has said, could in several years substantially restructure the area's transit system.
In a brief interview last night, John F. Herrity, chairman of the Fairfax County board of supervisors said he will definitely push for adoption of the consultant's recommendation. Citing what he described as declining Metro ridership and increasing fares and operating deficits, Herrity said "it's an intolerable situation."
He said no move could be made before Sept. 13 when the county board meets. But he pledged: "I'll bring it up then."
The study was made by System Design Concepts Inc., in association with Mike James. It recommended that the needed buses be purchased by the county, and suggested that it might be best if the county-owned fleet were run by a private operator. The study said this might be most effective in restraining future labor cost increases.