Fairfax fine-tuning bus plan for Sil­ver Line ser­vice

The Washington Post Sunday - - COMMUTER - BY ROBERT THOM­SON thom­sonr@wash­post.com

The re­gion’s most pop­u­lous ju­ris­dic­tion is plan­ning for a shock to its trans­porta­tion sys­tem. When Metro’s Sil­ver Line opens, Fairfax County will dou­ble its to­tal num­ber of Metro­rail sta­tions and re­ar­range a big part of its bus fleet.

The changes an­tic­i­pated for late this year could af­fect the travel pat­terns of nearly half the 38,000 week­day rid­ers on Fairfax

Con­nec­tor buses. So a large part of the re­main­ing task for the county’s trans­porta­tion de­part­ment in­volves lis­ten­ing to the rid­ers’ con­cerns, then get­ting the word around once a fi­nal plan for new bus routes is adopted.

Some tran­sit rid­ers will be asked to change their habits, per­haps tak­ing a bus to the Sil­ver Line’s new Wiehle Av­enue Metro sta­tion in the Re­ston area rather than to the Or­ange Line’s West Falls Church sta­tion, or us­ing trains in­stead of rid­ing ex­press buses.

But Tom Biesi­adny, the di­rec­tor of the county’s trans­porta­tion de­part­ment, said the agency also hopes to greatly in­crease the num­ber of peo­ple tak­ing buses and trains in­stead of driv­ing cars. Plan­ners said the time saved on long bus trips to reach Or­ange Line sta­tions can be rein­vested in more fre­quent trips to Sil­ver Line sta­tions, some­thing they hope will in­crease the pop­u­lar­ity of the bus ser­vice.

Trans­porta­tion ad­min­is­tra­tors have been tak­ing their plans on a coun­ty­wide tour to ex­plain them to the pub­lic and get re­ac­tions. That re­view will con­tinue till the end of Fe­bru­ary. In April, they will go back to the pub­lic with a re­vised plan be­fore ask­ing the ap­proval of the Fairfax County Board of Su­per­vi­sors in May or June.

Later, the trans­porta­tion de­part­ment will use var­i­ous forms of ad­ver­tis­ing, so­cial me­dia and face-to-face outreach to in­form rid­ers and the gen­eral pub­lic about the ser­vice changes. Metrobus has been go­ing through a sim­i­lar process for some of its routes in Fairfax County.

Here’s a guide to the Fairfax Con­nec­tor plan, which will start the day the Sil­ver Line opens, though that date has not been set. Com­ments on the pro­posed changes can be sent to fair­fax­con­nec­tor@fair­fax­county.gov, or submitted by call­ing 703-8775600, TTY 711. Write to Fairfax County De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion, Attn: Fairfax Con­nec­tor Dulles Rail Bus Ser­vice Plan, 4050 Le­gato Rd., Suite 400, Fairfax, Va. 22033.

Over­view

The plan adds or mod­i­fies 32 Fairfax Con­nec­tor routes, while elim­i­nat­ing six oth­ers.

In Hern­don and Re­ston, routes that serve the West Falls Church Metro sta­tion will be di­verted to the new Wiehle-Re­ston East sta­tion, at the west end of the Sil­ver Line’s first phase. In McLean and Vi­enna, new routes will be cre­ated and ex­ist­ing routes mod­i­fied to serve the new Metro sta­tions. In

Tysons, four Sil­ver Line Cir­cu­la­tor bus routes will be cre­ated to serve its four new Metro sta­tions.

Some com­muters and neigh­bor­hood res­i­dents have ques­tions about the safety of routes and ac­cess to bus stops. Other bus rid­ers say rout­ing changes could make their com­mutes longer and more com­pli­cated. Re­tirees want to make sure there’s enough off-

Sil­ver Line Cir­cu­la­tor

Fairfax Con­nec­tor plans to cre­ate four Cir­cu­la­tor routes to link the four Metro­rail sta­tions in Tysons with ma­jor em­ploy­ers and ser­vices.

As other bus routes bring rid­ers into the Tysons area, the four Cir­cu­la­tor routes will pro­vide what Christin We­gener, the Fairfax Con­nec­tor chief in the trans­porta­tion de­part­ment, de­scribed as the “last mile” con­nec­tion for peo­ple coming from or go­ing to the Sil­ver Line sta­tions.

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