How did the Silver Line get its name?

Many people suggested names for Metro’s first new rail line in more than two decades. Lance Wyman, who designed the iconic Metrorail map, floated the idea of a Cherry Blossom (or pink) Line. And Metro officials toyed with the idea of simply making the northwest-bound rail extension a spur of the Orange Line. But at some point in the 40-plus-year push to extend rail service to Dulles International Airport, the “Silver” label became attached to the project.

The Washington Post’s own Dr. Gridlock, Robert Thomson, said the newspaper may have had a hand in naming the line. Metro spokesman Dan Stessel offers some support for that theory: “I have heard that it was dubbed the Silver Line at some point many years ago by The Washington Post, and it just kind of stuck.”

Will new 7000-series rail cars run on the Silver Line?

Although test cars have been traversing the system, the first 7000-series cars won’t be ready for passengers until later this year. It wasn’t supposed to be that way, but the enormous earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011 delayed production of parts needed to build the rail cars. That, in turn, pushed delivery back from summer 2013 to this year. The first test cars arrived in December 2013 and have been spotted moving through the Metrorail system. Data from the tests will be sent to the manufacturer, Kawasaki, which will build the cars in its factory in Lincoln, Neb.

Why didn’t Metro offer free rides on the first day of Silver Line service?

It’s a misconception that Metrorail offers free rides whenever it opens an extension or new line. Metro spokesman Stessel acknowledged that offering free rides on opening day would, no doubt, please Silver Line riders, but he said doing so would be a logistical nightmare for the transit authority.

Among other complications, Metro would have to distinguish Silver Line riders from other riders. The transit authority would also have to decide which Silver Line riders would get a free ride. (Should the offer be limited to people who ride only the Silver Line? Or should it include those who ride the Silver Line and transfer to another line?) And remember, for every month the Silver Line’s opening was delayed, Metro lost $2 million to $3 million in revenue. So a ride? Yes. A free one? Nope.

Will the Silver Line take me to Dulles Airport?

This first phase of the Silver Line will get you closer — but not all the way to the airport. That won’t come until Phase 2, which will include a stop across the parking lot from the Eero Saarinen-designed main terminal. Once the station opens, Silver Line passengers will be able to reach the terminal through an underground walkway that connects it to an existing parking garage. For now, several buses will shuttle passengers between the Wiehle-Reston East station and the airport. The Washington Flyer airport shuttle that used to serve West Falls Church has been rebranded the Silver Line Express and moved to the Wiehle station.

How long does it take to travel from one end of the Silver Line to the other, and how much does it cost?

According to Metro’s fare calculator, an end-to-end trip from Wiehle-Reston East to Largo Town Center (or vice versa) will take about 70 minutes. During rush hour, the trip will cost $5.90. If you travel off-peak, you’ll pay $3.60. The Silver Line is now about 33 miles long, 11.7 miles of which make up the first phase of the Metrorail extension. Phase 2, once completed, will add 11.4 miles to the system.