With the anticipated start of Metro Silver Line service now less than a year away, Fairfax County transportation staff are proposing the biggest change to Fairfax Connector bus service in decades.
Fairfax Connector staff are proposing to add 12 new routes, modify 21 routes and eliminate six routes in an effort to reorient existing bus service to the new rail stations.
Most of the proposed new routes are in the McLean and Vienna areas, ferrying passengers to the four new stations in Tysons Corner, which will not have attached parking garages.
County staff are also proposing a new circulator bus service in Tysons, designed to take rail passengers the last mile or so from the rail station to their destination. The circulator buses will likely have low or no fare for passengers transferring from the rail line, said Eric Teitelman, chief of capital projects for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.
In Reston and Herndon, buses that now take commuters to the West Falls Church Metrorail Station will be reoriented to the new station at Wiehle Avenue in Reston, the terminus of the first phase of the Silver Line.
This will allow for more frequent bus service, with a time between busses of 15 minutes or less during peak hours, Teitelman said.
The North Reston Park and Ride lot, located on Sunset Hills Road just blocks away from the new rail station, will also close once the rail station opens.
The changes have made some regular bus riders anxious about how their travel times will be affected.
At the final public comment session on the proposed changes in Reston Monday, some bus riders around the North Point area of Reston said the proposed changes will actually make it harder for them to take transit, not easier.
Reston resident Therese Martin said that service cutbacks due to budget cuts in recent years have already made it harder for her and her husband to get downtown without hopping in a car.
Others expressed concerns about the safety of bus riders as service is increased, as some bus stop locations in Reston are accessible by streets with no sidewalks or poor lighting,
“When you get off in the snow and the rain it is difficult when there are no sidewalks,” said Reston resident Kendall Jamison.
A committee of the Reston Citizens Association has also raised concerns that bus riders won’t wait until their bus gets to the Metro bus bays, due to the anticipated traffic congestion around the Wiehle station, and will instead hop off at a bus stop on Sunrise Valley Drive and access the station on foot.
County transportation planners have been collecting this and other very detailed feedback about proposed changes to individual routes at public meetings over the next two weeks.
All of the proposed route changes are available online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/routes/dullesrail, and current and potential bus riders can submit comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The final bus plan is expected to be approved by the Board of Supervisors in July, so Farifax Connector can begin the new bus routes on the first day of Silver Line service.