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Commuters Make Silver Line Debut To and From Reston

by Karen Goff — July 28, 2014 at 9:34 am 1,396 14 Comments

After years of anticipation, months of delays and a weekend full of grand opening festivities, commuters boarded Metro Silver Line trains in Reston Monday headed to the same jobs in a new way.

Gone were the excited children and curious transportation nerds of Saturday and Sunday. In their place were Ashburn, Reston and Herndon residents, among others, hurrying to where they needed to be on a Monday morning.

The first commuting day seemed to go without incident. The intersection at Wiehle Avenue and Sunset Hills Road was not clogged with cars. Trains ran mostly on schedule. Buses, by commuter reports, were a bit inconsistent — some of the new routes were early and some were late. The parking garage at Wiehle Avenue was nearly full by 9 a.m.

There were some backups, but that was mostly commuters trying to get the lay of the land. Where is the elevator in the parking garage? Which way to the 505 bus? Is this the private parking or the county parking? There were lots of Metro and Reston Station personnel to answer questions.

James Mosley of Herndon has tried a variety of ways to get to his IT job near Metro Center in D.C. — driving, getting a ride through the slug line, buses from Herndon-Monroe to the East Falls Church Metro Station and an Orange Line train.

Monday morning, he was dropped off at Wiehle-Reston East’s Kiss and Ride.

“It’s not so convenient for the driver,” he said of the Kiss-and-Ride lanes. “When you are in the garage, you have to make a three-point turn to come out.”

Mosley said the Silver Line will be a good test. He had his stopwatch set to see whether the new method would save any time.

“I started out at 7:44 a.m.,” he said. “My goal is to make it to my office by 8:20.”

Mosely later emailed he got to work at 8:38 a.m. 

“In general, the commute time was definitely longer than if I had commuted via other methods from Herndon Monroe. “The commute to wait on the train was definitely longer than if I had traveled to the Herndon-Monroe.  Access to that garage is a lot simpler.”

Mosley’s Eastbound train was packed — as were most others during morning rush hour — as it traveled towards Tysons Corner before 8 a.m. Coming West from Tysons shortly after, there were only a handful of passengers.

Diego Aguilar formerly traveled from his home near West Falls Church to Reston Town Center on the Fairfax Connector 505 Bus. Now he will pick up the Silver Line at East Falls Church and take Metro to his job at Davelle Clothiers.

“This is really nice,” he said of his first day on the new route. “We have been waiting for this to happen and the time has come.”

Sashi Goli of Ashburn stopped and took a selfie in front of the Silver Line sign. He has been making the commute to his office near Chinatown for nearly five years. The travel time via Silver Line will be about the same as when he parked at Herndon Monroe and took a bus to West Falls Church. That route has been eliminated, so Goli says he has no choice but to take the Silver Line now.

“Fifty minutes is still a long time [to get downtown],” he said. “When Phase II opens, that will be really awesome.”

Metro said that 5,089 people boarded trains at the five Silver Line stations between 5 and 9 a.m. Monday. Wiehle-Reston East was by far the busiest with 3,496. Other Silver Line station numbers: Tysons, 455; McLean, 508; Spring Hill, 481; Greensboro, 149.

  • LesAnn620

    “curious transportation nerds of Saturday” <– heh, totally me.

  • ArlingtonCommuter

    I live in Arlington and work at Reston Town Center. For the last couple of years I’d been taking the orange line train from East Falls Church to West Falls Church and then transferring to the 505 bus. Like A LOT of other people — those buses were always jammed. Today I took the silver line from East Falls Church to Wiehle and then jumped on a 981 bus because I’d just missed the 505. A very comfortable commute — smoothest train ride I’ve ever had, here in the U.S. or in Europe. Definitely smoother than the NYC subway… All in all I think the commute time is about the same, give or take a few minutes. Having four bus options out of Wiehle to Reston Town Center — 505, 981, 983, and RIBS 4 — is a huge improvement over the old days when the 505 bus was the only real option out of West Falls Church. Miss it, and I’d have to wait 20 – 30 minutes for the next one. (Yeah, the 952 was there, but it wasn’t worth the time.)

    The only issue I saw today was one I’ve seen for 15 years in Reston: the badly timed lights along Sunset Hills Road. The bus route from Wiehle to Reston Town Center is supposed to take 8 minutes, according to the schedule. It took 20. Why? The lights. We left on time, the driver was fine, and passengers seemed to know what was going on. We hit EVERY SINGLE red light, though, from the exit on to Wiehle Avenue up to the corner at Town Center Parkway and Bluemont Way. I’d seen that happen occasionally with the old 505 route.

    The Fairfax Connector people ought to talk with their Department of Transportation brethren about adjusting those traffic lights along Sunset Hills Road. Those lights are going to kill their on-time performance metrics for the 505, 981, 983, and RIBS 4 buses, plus whatever else runs along Sunset Hills Road.

    • bob

      The commentor is spot on with his assesment, the timing for those aforementioned lights can be downright attrocious at times.
      I used to work on Sunset Hills, and now I still use that route to pick up my son at a nearby daycare.

    • Tom Ryan

      I have the same commute. I could take the bus all the way 2A to West Falls, then 505. With the free transfer, it was a $3 round trip commute. There is no such option now. It’ll be about $13 – $14 using Silver Line. The time savings is nominal, but you’re going from ~ $750/yr to $2400/yr. I just wonder what people who have smaller paychecks will do. You can drive on Rte 7/Dolly Madision for only the cost of gas, ~1.5 gallons for a round trip cost of $5.50. Even travelling completely on surface roads, you can match what the Silver Line gives you.

  • Mike M

    How do folks feel about the cost of getting to DC and back (and parking at Wiehle, if need be)?

    • LesAnn620

      Depending on what I’m doing, could be totally worth it. I usually just drive into DC and park, costing anywhere from $15 to $25, not including the tolls I pay to get there from Reston (mainline + mainline + exit). I usually go into DC for entertainment purposes on nights and weekends though, so I’m not counting parking at the station. A Saturday night concert at 9:30 Club means I pay $12 to park at the club plus $6 in tolls, versus $7.80 in Metro fare.

      • Mike M

        I go into town on weekends. So I park ($4.80) and then $7.80 you say for fare. If I drive, i can park for $8-12. The real killer is if I am accompanied. Then driving is almost a no-brainer.

        • LesAnn620

          But parking is free at the station on weekends. Also you may be able to park in DC for $8 to $12 but you still have to tack on the toll fees.

          • Mike M

            Correct! Thanks. Makes a diff.

          • LesAnn620

            Heh. Yeah. I actually went to double check WMATA’s website because I couldn’t remember if it included all the garages. And the $7.80 fare includes the discount of using a SmartTrip card versus a regular paper fare card.

          • Mike M

            Still, with one or two people accompanying me, I’ll drive.

  • C

    “It’s not so convenient for the driver,” he said of the Kiss-and-Ride lanes. “When you are in the garage, you have to make a three-point turn to come out.”

    This is not correct. It’s bad, but not that bad. It’s a circle. Do not try to turn around. It is poorly designed for sure. And no one understands that you pull over to let riders in or out.

  • DisqStew

    There are 2 elevators to parking garages that have the same level names. Coming back on Saturday we went down the wrong one. It took awhile to realize what happened. You are exposed to the weather walking from parking. Wait to the rainy and snowy seasons. Once rolling only 45 min to L’Enfant Plaza and the Air and Space museum. See Rt 7, see rt 66 on your scenic trip.

  • Herndon

    Sileverline is a pain for Herndon -dc Commuters,…-Earlier with orange line commute time door to door (herndon to lenfant plaza)was 60-65 min..now its 75 to 90 minutes…

    We are paying 25 % extra for 30% extra commute time…

    Metro need to speed up the commute time during peak hours..It speeds up after eastfalls church to DC ..Till that time its so slow!!!!!Are they still testing at our expense?

    980 bus frequency reduced 6 for an hour from 10 pr hour?Also 980 stops should stop immediately off of toll road like 929//..instead of crossing 4 stop signs and wait for 4 left turns in a peak hour..and also need to walk more to go to train station!!!!.then people will get …10 min extra time …

    hoping silverline will reduce the travel time by 20 minutes,,,now the time spent in catching train from herdon to wiehle station is same as old wfc!But wfc to lenfant plaza was 29 minutes..now 49 minutes…

    It s lose -lose situation in money and time ///With increased stress on each day by losing 40 minutes…

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