When the first official passenger train left the Wiehle-Reston East Station Saturday afternoon, the crowd of transit enthusiasts who had lined up to be a part of local history erupted in cheers.
There was a festive atmosphere as children waved the commemorative Silver Line pennants that Metro employees were handing out and other riders took selfies to remember their first ride.
“It was always kind of a joke,” said Robyn Freedman-Schnapp, who grew up in Reston hearing about the possibility of Metro. She biked to the station Saturday to catch the first train. “Recently it’s been more exciting, because it’s actually happening.”
After the fanfare that marked the start of service on the first major Metrorail expansion in 20 years, the Silver Line settled in to normal operations.
On the first commuting day, Monday, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority recorded more than 14,000 people entering the system from one of the five new Fairfax County stations and more than 16,000 passengers exiting from those stations over the course of the day, suggesting that the new route is attracting some commuters from other parts of the Metro system who work in Tysons or Reston.
Wiehle-Reston East, the end of the line station with a large parking facility and bus center, was the most heavily used station. The Tysons Corner Station, near Tysons Corner Center, was the busiest station in Tysons while the Greensboro Station, located near the former SAIC campus, saw only about 800 entries and 800 exits on the first day.
While the county-run parking garage at Wiehle-Reston East got plenty of use, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) said that the 200-space secure bike storage room at the garage was nearly full on the first day, and that many people were using the revamped Fairfax Connector bus routes to get to the station as well. The bike room was designed so it can be expanded in the future.
“It really is working quite well. I think we have accomplished something quite needed at the station,” Hudgins said.
Some commuters expressed frustration with the increased cost and other changes to their commuting patterns that came along with the new rail line. For anyone traveling from Wiehle to Rosslyn or beyond, fares for the Silver Line hit the max Metrorail cost of $5.90 during peak hour service.
Reston resident Georgina Price, who brought her son Jake to experience the first Silver Line trip, said the new route will increase her commuting costs to about $120 per month, but she is willing to pay more for the added convenience.
“It’s really a pain trying to get from Reston to Vienna,” Price said. She is hoping that having rail service closer to home will make her commuting time more reliable.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to stay a one-car family,” she said.