This week, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation began collecting feedback on an updated version of its plans to reorient county bus service to the new Silver Line when it opens at the end of this year.
“We’re getting very close to what we think will be the final plan, but we’re still taking comments,” said Paul Mounier, senior operations planner for Fairfax Connector. “We want to make sure that we’re providing the services that the community really wants.”
More than 40 percent of Fairfax Connector’s current routes will change in some manner once the Silver Line opens.
The bulk of the changes will be in the Reston and Herndon areas, where many buses now ferry people to the West Falls Church Metro Station. Those routes will begin taking people to the new station on Wiehle Avenue in Reston instead.
There will also be new routes in Vienna and McLean, to serve the four new Metro stations in Tysons Corner, and new circulator routes in Tysons to get rail riders from the station to their destinations.
“I’ve found that in Herndon and Reston, people already use transit, they understand transit and they want more transit,” Mounier said. Some of the proposed bus service in Vienna and McLean got more of a mixed response.
In the revised plan, county transportation planners made adjustments to add more midday and later evening service to Reston and Herndon routes, a request that they heard loud and clear during the first comment period.
“It does provide a safety net for people,” Mounier said, allowing people to take transit without worrying how they will get home if they have to leave early or stay late.
They are also proposing to maintain express bus service from Reston to the Pentagon and Crystal City, renumbered as Route 599. The route had been proposed for elimination but many current riders decried the decision, saying that to make the same trip via Metrorail would add significant time to their commutes because of the transfers involved.
The current draft of the plan also identifies what planners are calling “optional” routes and service enhancements, meaning that they are not currently funded. These possible enhancements include more frequent service, weekend service and new routes.
The plan was originally intended to be revenue neutral — improving and adding service to some areas through the savings from eliminating and altering other routes.
In the current comment period, transportation planner Christin Wegener said that they particularly want feedback on the optional routes and service enhancements because, if there is enough support, Fairfax Connector may be able to find a way to provide those services.
“If we can squeeze more service out, you can bet we will,” Wegener said.
There are three additional public meetings about the revised bus service plan, in Vienna, McLean and Tysons. Organizations can also request presentations by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The final plan is supposed to go to the Board of Supervisors for approval in early June, so the informal cutoff period for comments on the latest iteration of the plan is early May, Wegener said.
However, she added, Fairfax Connector is always looking at its routes, so feedback is always welcome.
“Our comment period never closes,” she said.
For detailed information about the proposed route changes and new routes, as well as the remaining public meetings, go to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/routes/dullesrail/.