Amid the glowing endoresements of elected officials on the announcement of Silver Line service, it is important to note that while it will do wonders for creating a more livable Tysons, commuters in the Reston/Herndon area will be paying a high price. And this is not just Toll Road users. Among those often forgotten in the discussions are the daily transit riders who will see huge increases in transit fares. I commute from Reston on a Fairfax Connector bus to West Falls Church, where I transfer to Metro to my job at Farragut West. With the recent Metro fare increase, I pay $5.10 each way ($3.85 Metro plus $1.25 bus transfer) for a total of $10.20 per day. Based on the posted new Silver Line fares (http://silverlinemetro.com), I will soon have to pay the max Metro fare of $5.90 plus $1.25 bus transfer for a total of $7.15 each way, or $14.30 per day. This is a 40 percent increase in costs if I still transfer from bus to rail! I used to park free at the Wiehle Avenue park-and-ride, but if I now park at the metro station, I have to add $4.85 per day to the metro fare, resulting in a cost of $16.65 per day – a more than 60 percent increase in daily costs! These are huge increases. For someone who commutes every day to Arlington or D.C., this is well over $1,000 per year in added costs – and the irony is that rail times are no faster than the current bus/rail service, since the Fairfax Connector buses use the airport access road. Moreover, I’ve had many breakdowns, major delays, and stifling hot Metrorail rides but almost always have a very pleasant on-time Fairfax Connector bus, so I am skeptical about paying for an improved “service level” on Metrorail.
I’ve seen discussion about supporting affordable housing with redevelopment, but where are the voices of our politicians for affordable transit? The Fairfax County Times opinion piece recommended offering free one-day passes or deeply discounting a one-month pass. Great ideas. Some others: With the Silver Line, the bus ride to Metro in Reston will be a very short trip – so reduce the bus fares to encourage use and mitigate these much larger rail fares. Or change the Metro fare structure so that price rises per station rather than per mile, so the one stop between Tysons and Reston doesn’t break our budgets. Metro will greatly benefit Arlington/DC commuters traveling to Tysons, but for Reston/Herndon residents who have to pay $1,000-plus extra per year to get to work, this is a high price to pay. Setting a price structure that makes the Silver Line affordable and encourages people to use should be part of its strategy for success.
Michael Grant, Reston