Ridership is up on Fairfax Connector buses serving Metro’s Silver Line.
Fairfax transportation officials say the Dulles corridor bus routes are transporting more passengers since the July opening of the new Metrorail station in Reston and four in Tysons: Ridership is up by 4 percent on weekdays and 7 percent on weekends.
The news is not surprising given that the Silver Line also appears to be off to a solid start with around 15,000 weekday entries and the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station already surpassing ridership projections.
Fairfax transportation officials expected Metrorail to ignite greater use of the bus system. The county timed a major overhaul of its bus service with the opening of the new line, redirecting buses from the Orange Line at West Falls Church to the five new Silver Line stations and creating the county’s busiest bus hub at Wiehle-Reston. About 40 percent of the Connector’s service changed in July and now the system makes 30,000 weekday trips to and from the new stations.
The strong numbers in the corridor also are good news for the overall county bus system, which this summer reported drops in ridership compared to last year. Transit officials said then that they expected some fluctuation in ridership while transit users adapted to new travel patterns as a result of the Silver Line.
Fairfax Connector section chief Nick Perfili said riders are still trying new options, but the ridership numbers are encouraging particularly for buses serving Wiehle, between Tysons and Springfield, and the Reston neighborhood routes. The new bus routes that provide service on weekday midday, weekday evening, and weekends– No. 558 and No. 559– are also growing, he said.
The use of park-and-ride facilities also remains strong, with Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride 70 to 75 percent full and the Wiehle garage more than 80 percent full on a typical weekday, Perfili said.
Fairfax Connector is now planning service changes to 29 routes in January. The changes include adjusting bus travel times to reflect traffic conditions in the area near the Wiehle station.
The proposed changes will go before the County Board of Supervisors for approval next month and aim to improve on-time performance, reduce crowding and enhance connectivity between routes.