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Open letter to Fairfax County Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence):

After watching one of my fellow disabled Fairfax Connector bus riders struggle today to make the two-block trek to the entrance of the Vienna Metro Station, I am again seeking your help.

The new bus bay design has banished the Fairfax Connector buses, the largest system serving the station, to a set of bays at least two city blocks from the south entrance. The area set aside for the Connector is also too small for drivers to maneuver, meaning that many buses have to let their customers off next to the South Parking Structure, more than three city blocks from the station.

All of the convenient bays near the entrance have been reserved for Metro Bus, a limited transit player at Vienna. Even Fairfax City’s Cue buses, which have assigned bays near the station’s North entrance, appear to outrank the Fairfax Connector at Vienna Metro.

I contacted Fairfax Connector and was informed by its ombudsman that there was nothing to be done about the bay assignments in that it was Metro’s project. When I asked if the traffic patterns could allow handicapped Connector passengers to be dropped off at the station’s entrance, I was told that this was impossible in that it would hamper the movement of Metro buses.

The sole provision for the handicapped at Vienna Metro is a bay, near the entrance, set aside for the Metro Accessible van service, a limited capacity service that, thanks to the Connector’s fleet of extremely accessible buses, handicapped Fairfax residents do not have to rely on.

Fairfax Connector officials seem powerless in the face of Metro. I hope you can do better for your constituents. Please help us advocate for more equitable bay assignments for the Connector and, at the very least, a system that will allow handicapped passengers to be dropped off and picked up near the station’s south entrance.

I will be seeing that same handicapped lady this afternoon. We’re regulars on the 622 bus. And I can guarantee you she’ll be having an even harder time making it from the elevator-equipped station to Bay “P.” Her two-city block return trip is uphill the whole way.

William Hillburg