The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has proposed changes on 21 bus routes, from below Mount Vernon to D.C. and as far west as Springfield, that are designed to eliminate bus service paralleling the Metrorail Yellow Line and to redirect bus service to feed the Huntington Metro station.
The proposals were arrived at by Metro and Fairfax County, following a series of informal public hearings held by the county.
When the station opened last December, Fairfax County officials had requested that Metro delay rerouting bus service to feed the station. They feared that travel times and fares for commuters would increase in the shift from just bus travel to bus and rail travel.
The changes in service are scheduled to begin in June, according to projections by Metro. Fairfax Supervisor Joseph Alexander is, however, advocating an April start date. Metro is scheduled to operate the service until about September, when Fairfax County is planning to begin running its feeder bus line.
Implementation of any of the proposed changes is subject to approval of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The board is scheduled to vote on the proposed changes Monday.
While public comment on the proposed changes was generally favorable at a formal Metro/county hearing last week, two of the proposals drew considerable fire. One was the proposed routing of the Huntington-Bucknell line (routes 14A and 14B) through 10th Street between Belle Haven Road and Belleview Boulevard. Residents living on 10th Street strongly opposed the proposal, calling their street unsuitable for bus traffic. They argued that there was no room on their street to put a bus stop. The 10th Street residents were supported by state Del. Frank Medico, who opposed the routing of the 14A and 14B lines through 10th Street.
The Mount Vernon (11Y) route also drew considerable comment. Metro offered two proposals; one would make National Airport the line's terminus, and another would continue to provide service to Farragut Square with a 50-cent surcharge. The first alternative was opposed by a succession of speakers, some of whom said they would start driving to work if the line terminated at National Airport. Several speakers said they would like to see fewer buses at National, not more, complaining that the airport was already too congested. One speaker called the proposal to terminate the line at National "senseless."
Other items drawing residents' comments were lack of service to neighborhoods around the Huntington station, and the difficulty of getting from the station to the Franconia area on public transportation in the evening. One speaker protested the "balkanization" of public transportation in Northern Virginia, mentioning Alexandria's city bus service and Fairfax County's proposed takeover of several of the bus routes that will feed the Huntington station.
Under the proposals, Metro would eliminate the following bus routes: 9B, 9C, 9D, 11B, 11C, 11F, 11M, 11T, 11W, 27W and 27X. Route 9A would be changed to terminate at the Huntington Metrorail station. Route 11A would be replaced by a new 11A running between Mount Vernon and Huntington Metro; Route 11Z would be replaced by a new 11Z running between Mount Vernon Hospital and Huntington Metro, and Route 27H would be replaced by a new 27H running between Hayfield and Huntington Metro. Boarding restrictions would be dropped on Route 11P, which would be rerouted in Franconia Commons and Amberleigh. Route 27G would be rerouted in Hayfield, with restrictions removed.
In September, Fairfax County is scheduled to take over several of the proposed lines, including 9W, 9X, 9Y, 9Z, 11A, 11Z, 14A, 14B, 27H, 27K, 27S and 27T. With the exception of the 27S and 27T lines, all of these buses will feed the Huntington Metro station. Also known as the Springfield Mall-Alexandria line, these buses will run as far as Wythe Street in Alexandria, with stops at the Huntington and Eisenhower Avenue Metrorail stations.