Much of our discussion about the Silver Line focuses on the transit authority, which will operate the line, or on the airports authority, responsible for the construction. But Fairfax County has an enormous investment in the new line’s success.
You will see that enthusiasm reflected in this letter from the county government’s leader, but it’s also a very helpful guide for anyone planning to use the five new stations set to open Saturday in Fairfax. That includes commuters from the District and Maryland, who now will have a rail route to jobs in Tysons Corner and Reston.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
The opening of the Silver Line represents a milestone in transportation options for residents, workers and visitors in Fairfax County. This expansion of Metro is exciting because it is much more than a new extension of tracks. The new Silver Line stations enhance our freedom of movement by providing an extensive network of transportation options in which you can bike, walk, bus, drive and ride to wherever you need to go.
Currently, the Tysons area is bursting at the seams with commuters behind the wheel. With new Metro stations, Circulator bus routes, bike facilities and pedestrian walkways, Tysons is poised to become a state-of-the-art multimodal center where there is little need to hop in a car to get to your destination.
The Metro Web site, www.wmata.com, offers a really great tool for planning your next trip. Simply plug in where you are coming from and where you want to go, and the Web site will generate a customized trip planner just for you, including bus and rail options.
If you are interested in parking at the Silver Line, Wiehle-Reston East and McLean are your stations. The parking garage at Wiehle-Reston East offers: 2,300 parking spaces with 253 reserved parking spaces; 1,000 additional parking spaces operated by Comstock, a private contractor; 45 kiss-and-ride spaces; 10 covered bus bays on the north side and five bus bays on the south side; one bus stop on Wiehle Avenue; a reserved locker room for 200 bicycles, and a pedestrian bridge over the Dulles Toll Road linking to both north and south entrances.
The McLean station offers a nearby interim parking lot with about 700 spaces. This station also includes a kiss-and-ride drop-off area, nine motorcycle spaces, 26 bike racks, 20 rental bike lockers, five bus bays, a bus stop on Route 123, and a pedestrian bridge over Route 123.
The Board of Supervisors and I have worked hard to ensure easy access to Silver Line stations for commuters, shoppers and nearby residents. All Silver Line stations will have bus service, provided by four different carriers: Fairfax Connector, at all five Silver Line stations (in the county), Metrobus at the McLean and Tysons Corner stations, PRTC (Prince William County service) at Tysons Corner station and Loudoun County Transit, at the Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East stations
Three new circulating bus routes in Tysons will take riders to the Greensboro, Tysons Corner and Spring Hill Metro stations starting Saturday. These new Fairfax Connector bus lines — Routes 422, 423, and 424 — will pick up riders at stops around Tysons, returning to the stations every 10 minutes during rush hours.
Fairfax Connector also offers bus routes that connect Lorton, Springfield, Burke, Falls Church, McLean, Vienna, Reston, Herndon and the Pentagon to the Silver Line. Metrobus connects Shirlington, Crystal City and Old Town Alexandria to Tysons, as well.
Sharon Bulova, chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
DG: One note for those hoping to snag a reserved parking space at the Wiehle Avenue garage: They proved to be very popular. There’s now a waiting list of 40 people.
Some travelers, anticipating the garage’s popularity, fear there’s going to be extra traffic congestion along Wiehle Avenue and the Dulles Toll Road during rush hours. We’ll be watching for that, but the long-term pattern may not be obvious immediately. During the early days of operation, for example, drivers will be learning how to come off the eastbound toll road and get in the correct lane for the left turn into the garage.
On the other hand, the Silver Line will open as we enter the height of the summer vacation season. So traffic complaints may be muted — until September.
Like the Fairfax County government, Metro is conducting an extensive education campaign to draw riders to the Silver Line’s new stations. In my July 13 column, the next letter-writer explained to me that this effort isn’t reaching all the right people.
She and her husband are potential Silver Line customers, but she couldn’t find the information she needed to help him get his ticket to ride.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Thank you for solving my problem obtaining a Senior SmarTrip pass for my husband. With your detailed information, we were able to make a purchase of one at the Reston Connector Store at Town Center. We are now ready for the opening of the Silver Line .
I hope this will encourage Metro to provide better training for its phone staff and update its Web site. I am about two miles from the store where I purchased the pass, so it is still a mystery why the site and staff could not direct me to the store.
D. Carlivati, Reston
DG: People 65 and older can get the discount cards at Connector Stores in Fairfax County and at Commuter Stores in Arlington County. Bring a government-issued photo ID. To see a full list of sales offices for SmarTrip cards in the D.C. region, go to this page on Metro’s Web site: www.wmata.com/fares/purchase/where.cfm.