81°Mostly Cloudy

by Kalina Newman — July 21, 2017 at 1:30 pm 15 Comments

According to a quarterly update provided Wednesday to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, construction of the Phase 2 of the Silver Line extension to Loudoun County has passed 60 percent completion.

Capital Rail Constructors reports that after nearly 4.4 million manhours of work, 61.12 percent of construction is done. They say the design process is 99.97 percent done.

The facility construction of the Reston Town Center station has continued with steel erection that started in May and will continue through August. Mechanical work projected to happen until fall 2018.

The Herndon Station will wrap up its metal decking by the end of August and start work on the roofing and skylights. The facility work of the station is estimated to be completed by this fall.

The MWAA is overseeing construction of the 11.4-mile project, which began in July 2013 and consists of six stations from the Reston Town Center station to the Ashburn station.

Despite the station construction steadily moving forward, the Silver Line extension will not be done for another three years. Construction on the cable trough is only 44 percent complete, and there are other track adjustments to make before everything is finalized.

WTOP reported earlier this week that the series of delays that pushed the opening back to 2020 will cost $95 million. The delays are being caused by a series of design changes, including safety-related work.

by Dave Emke — July 12, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

A power problem at the Rosslyn Metro station gummed up morning commuter transit on the Silver Line.

Metro’s official information feed reported the issue on Twitter just before 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Silver Line trains from Wiehle-Reston East were stopped at Ballston, and riders were asked to transfer to Orange Line trains to continue their commute. The problem was reported fixed within 20 minutes; however, riders continued to report delays and other issues at the Ballston, Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom stations through about 9:30 a.m.

The issue appeared to be cleared up by about 9:45 a.m.

by RestonNow.com — June 20, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

Starting next week, be prepared to spend a little more for a ride on the Fairfax Connector.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has approved fare increases for the service that will go into effect Sunday. The fares are going up in connection with increases to Metro fares, which also go into effect Sunday.

Riders of the Fairfax Connector will need to know these numbers:

  • Regular base fare will increase from $1.75 to $2.
  • Senior and disabled base fare will increase from 85 cents to $1.
  • Bus-to-bus transfer fare will increase from $1.75 to $2 for those paying cash.
  • Metrorail-to-bus transfer fare will increase from $1.25 to $1.50 for those paying by SmarTrip card, and from $1.75 to $2 for those paying cash.
  • Senior and disabled Metrorail-to-bus transfer fare will increase from 35 cents to 50 cents for those paying by SmarTrip card, and to $1 for those paying cash.

Fares for express routes are going up as well.

For more information on fares, visit the Fairfax Connector website.

by Dave Emke — April 26, 2017 at 4:00 pm 3 Comments

If you are planning to attend the People’s Climate Movement on Saturday in DC, traveling there by Metro may prove more difficult than expected.

Planned track work on the transit system this weekend will have the line between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle closed down, with work being done to replace ceiling tiles at Farragut West, McPherson Square and the lower level of Metro Center. Silver Line trains from Wiehle-Reston East will only be traveling as far as Ballston, leaving every 20 minutes.

Anyone traveling to downtown DC from Reston will need to transfer to an Orange Line train at Ballston, a Blue Line train at Rosslyn and then a Yellow Line train at the Pentagon. Stephen Cerny of Reston, a former member of Metro’s Riders’ Advisory Council who plans to attend the Climate Movement, is concerned that will cause major issues for those traveling in for the event from the area.

“Given that the march will draw hundreds of thousands, Metro is facing a public relations disaster given the disruptions it will cause and a loss of all the goodwill it earned for its excellent service during the Jan. 21 Women’s March,” Cerny said. “It’s very likely that the platforms will be severely overcrowded and will likely lead to service disruptions.”

Richard Jordan, a spokesperson for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, said it is not anticipated that there will be any problems Saturday associated with the Climate Movement.

“Yes, just as there was track work during the Science March last weekend,” Jordan said when asked if Metro was aware of the maintenance work’s timing in relation to Saturday’s event. “We believe that planned service will be more than adequate to accommodate ridership demand.”

About 15,000 people attended the March for Science on April 22 at the National Mall. Cerny and other activists are hoping for a much larger turnout for the Climate Movement protest Saturday. Attendance for the Women’s March on Washington in January was estimated at over 400,000.

Helene Shore, co-founder of locally based environmental group 350 Fairfax, will be traveling to Saturday’s event on a bus along with other Reston-area activists. She said there has been “some talk” about concerns related to Metro service, but she remains confident there will be a large turnout from Fairfax County and beyond.

“They are expecting lots of people coming,” Shore said. “Buses are coming from all over the country.”

Silver Line trains from Reston will only travel as far as Ballston beginning at 10 p.m. Friday, through the close of service Sunday.

by Dave Emke — March 22, 2017 at 2:45 pm 1 Comment

Silver Line construction/Photo by Jennifer Thomas Alcott, Capital Rail Constructors

Phase 2 of construction on Metro’s Silver Line is more than 56 percent complete, according to information released today by the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is overseeing construction of the 11.4-mile Phase 2 extension of the Silver Line from Reston through Dulles Airport to Ashburn. Engineering and design work on the phase began in July 2013, and the project is expected to be complete by 2020. All told, the stretch will include six rail stations; nine entrance pavilions and pedestrian bridges; aerial guideways through Dulles Airport; and 89,000 feet of track.

Silver Line construction/Capital Rail Constructors“Bad weather never really stopped us,” project vice president Charles Stark is quoted as saying regarding construction efforts in recent months.

Station wall work is currently underway at the future Reston Town Center station, while structural steel installation for the vault roof has begun at the future Herndon station, also located in Reston. In addition, piers for pedestrian bridges are being put up. All needed pier caps have been poured, along with 76 percent of deck spans. Construction on the rail yard at Dulles Airport is 46 percent complete, according to project officials.

Work also began in December on a new Herndon Metro parking garage, a county project.

Phase 2 of the Silver Line was originally projected to be completed by late 2018; however, design modifications later pushed that date back.

Photos courtesy Capital Rail Constructors/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

by Dave Emke — January 26, 2017 at 2:45 pm 11 Comments

Wiehle-Reston East Metro/Northern Virginia Transportation Commission

Metro board members continue to probe the public for feedback as they address how to close their budget gap.

In a public forum Wednesday night in Reston, the Virginia members of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board discussed their $3.1 billion proposed FY2018 budget.

Board members estimate $17 billion will be needed over next decade “just to maintain a state of good repair,” but also acknowledge that the impact of delays associated with the SafeTrack program are significant.

DC CFO estimates Metro delays led to:

— lost productivity between $153 million and $235 million annually in the region

— ridership declines that reduce Metrorail’s fare box recovery

Proposed investments, totaling $1.25 billion, outlined by board members to help make Metro more safe and reliable include new 7000 Series railcars; replacement buses and paratransit vehicles; rehabilitation and maintenance of existing railcar and bus fleets; rehabilitation and replacement of track and structures, rail power, radio/wireless and bus garages; and reinvestment in station escalators, elevators, lighting and platforms.

Proposed capital funding from Fairfax County for the FY2018 Metro budget is $101 million, up $66 million from FY2017. Increased contributions in FY2018 include funds to repay short-term debt projected to be used in FY2017.

WMATA FY2018 Budget Jurisdictional Contributions (proposed)

Proposed operational funding from Fairfax County in FY2018 is $138.6 million, a 17 percent increase from the current fiscal year.

WMATA FY2018 Budget Jurisdictional Operational Contributions (proposed)

The proposed budget also features fare hikes including:

  • 10 cents on rush-hour rail fares, 25 cents on non-rush-hour fares
  • 25 cents on regular and express Metrobus fares
  • $2.75 on Dulles Airport Metrobus fares

Service frequency would also be adjusted in the following ways:

  • 8-minute frequency on Silver Line during weekday rush hour (up from 6)
  • 15-minute frequency on all lines all other times (up from 12)

Metro has planned an open house Monday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. to receive feedback on the budget. In addition, feedback can be provided via an online survey.

Photo via Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, charts via Metro FY2018 budget proposal

by Jennifer van der Kleut — December 21, 2016 at 1:45 pm 0

Metro offering free New Year's Eve rides thanks for Miller Lite/Photo: MillerCoors

Reston residents may be able to get once again take a free Metro ride on New Year’s Eve.

The transit agency is in the final stages of another partnership with MillerCoors to provide free rides between midnight and 3 a.m. on all six Metro lines this year, as it did for last year’s holiday. The agenda item was up for approval during the Dec. 15 meeting of Metro’s Board of Directors.

According to a staff report, MillerCoors paid WMATA more than $160,000 last year to subsidize all Metrorail and Metrobus rides on New Year’s Eve between midnight and 3 a.m., as part of he company’s Free Rides promotion. The amount was based on expected ridership.

This year, if approved, MillerCoors will pay just over $81,000, as ridership on New Year’s Eve was only about half of what was expected last year. However, the amount is guaranteed regardless of actual ridership, the report states.

MillerCoors has offered its Free Rides program in more than 20 major cities across the U.S. for more than a decade.

“Our partnership with Metro is part of MillerCoors’ overall commitment to help prevent drunk driving by bringing alcohol responsibility programs to more markets,” a MillerCoors spokesperson said during the inaugural promotion in 2015.

In addition to Metro, local New Year’s Eve party-goers can also call for a free taxi ride of up to $30 thanks to the local nonprofit, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program.

Photo courtesy of MillerCoors Free Rides

Save

Save

by RestonNow.com — November 8, 2016 at 2:45 pm 7 Comments

Metro signMetro officials acknowledged last week that slower train speeds and added travel times for riders across the system are the new normal for the foreseeable future.

Since the Silver Line train derailment in July, the transit agency has instituted an increasing number of speed restrictions throughout the system. These mandatory slowdowns have been issued to address a multitude of problems, from worn rail ties to missing fasteners that hold rails in place.

On the Silver Line, trains have reportedly been observed going 75 mph on straightaway stretches from McLean to East Falls Church and from Wiehle-Reston East to Spring Hill. Operators of the Silver Line trains were disciplined for the speeding, according to a Washington Post article. Additionally, new software is being installed on trains that would prevent them from going over 60 mph.

With all this news about trains moving too quickly or slowly, we want to know: How has your Silver Line commute been lately? Weigh in by taking our poll below:

by Karen Goff — October 28, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

 Metro signSome changes are coming to Herndon-Monroe’s Park and Ride area.

On Monday, Oct. 31, the Park and Ride surface lot will be closed for Metro construction. Due to the surface lot closure, the Kiss and Ride area along with the slugline pick-up will be temporarily relocated to the Level 1 of the parking garage.

Commuters are encouraged to consider the Reston South Park and Ride as an alternative to parking at Herndon-Monroe during construction activities.

To stay informed of the construction activities at the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride, sign up for text and/or email “Commuter Alerts” (under the “Transportation” category) at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts.

See the attached graphic below for more information.

Herndon Monroe Park and Ride by Karen Goldberg Goff on Scribd

by Karen Goff — October 24, 2016 at 4:30 pm 11 Comments

Metro potential station closure/Credit: MetroMetro recently floated the idea of possibly closing rail stations during off-peak hours as part of a wider cost-cutting measure. The proposal to shut 20 under-used stations midday and late night is part of a solution to a projected $275 million budget shortfall.

Now the transit agency is saying it was not serious. Metro now says the map was meant only to illustrate the transit agency’s dire financial situation.

The proposal, released two weeks ago in advance of Metro’s budget talks, mentioned several Silver Line locations, including Spring Hill, Greensboro, McLean, and Virginia Square-GMU, as well as several on the Prince George’s side of the line (Addison Road, Benning Road, Stadium-Armory, and Capital Heights)

The agency received criticism that the Maryland stations, which are located in lower-income neighborhoods, would affect people who needed public transportation most.

Now Metro says it was not serious, reports The Washington Post.

Metro heard from many community members during a nearly 10-hour long meeting on Thursday. Residents were livid, reports the Post:

Following the backlash, Metro said the map was meant only to illustrate the transit agency’s dire financial situation. But critics questioned the wisdom of circulating the idea if there was no formal proposal. Some said it was merely an attempt to threaten the District, Maryland and Virginia to contribute more money to close the budget gap. …

Metro board Chairman Jack Evans applauded riders for taking a stand but said he had no problem with [Metro GM Paul] Wiedefeld’s decision to use the map as a way to illustrate the budget realities facing the troubled system.

“What Paul is trying to do is say, ‘Okay, if the jurisdictions don’t put the money [to cover the budget shortfall] in, then we have to do service cuts,’ ” Evans said. “And what do service cuts mean? . . . It means no bus routes, it means no stopping trains at the lowest-attended stations. That’s service cuts. Service cuts are painful. They’re not abstract.”

Board member Leif Dormsjo said the station closure idea is “not something we are taking through a public process right now.”

“I found the map surprising at the time that it was introduced, and I think it contributes to people’s suspicion that Metro doesn’t have people’s best interests in mind,” he said. “I think that was probably a good indication of how serious the reaction would be to such a concept, if it was something that management was recommending.”

Wiedefeld is expected to release his budget proposal in November.

by Karen Goff — October 21, 2016 at 4:15 pm 18 Comments

Del. Ken Plum (second from left), Supervisor Chair Sharon Bulova and Rep. Gerry Connolly among VIPS cutting bikeshare ribbon in Reston

Capital Bikeshare officially launched in Fairfax County on Friday, with nine stations in Reston and eight in Tysons Corner now available to add another mode to the area’s multimodal transportation.

Reston station bikeshare stationBy the time local officials such as Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va 11th), County Supervisor Sharon Bulova, Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and Del. Ken Plum cut the ceremonial ribbon at Reston Station at 2 p.m., it was most certainly not biking weather as rain began to fall and wind began to blow.

Nonetheless, the bikeshare stations will now offer a new way to get around Reston, 24 hours a day, rain or shine. The county plans to have a total of 29 stations soon (15 in Reston), said county bicycle program manager Adam Lind.

“To be able to stand here with well on the way to 30 bikeshare stations in Fairfax County less than two years after the feasibility study is really a testament to the hard work and effort that went into this,” said Lind.

“Bikeshare is really another transportation option. It is really about solving that last mile of getting people from transit to where they live and work. That is why we concentrated bikeshare from here to the town center.”

Stations that opened Friday include the YMCA Fairfax County Reston; Reston Town Center Transit Station; Reston Regional Library; Reston Station; Temporary Road and Old Reston Avenue; Library Street and Freedom Drive (Reston Town Center); New Dominion Parkway and Fountain Drive (Reston Town Center); Sunset Hills and Old Reston Avenue; and Town Center Parkway and Bowman Towne Drive.

The Reston and Tysons bikeshare operations join the more than 400 stations in the Capital Bikeshare network.

Hudgins said Reston was a natural place to put Fairfax County’s first bikeshare system.

“Reston is a well-connected place,” she said. “We have the [Metro] station, the town center, the village centers and the W&OD Trail. In less than three miles, you can go any of those places. This will be a real connector.”

Hudgins said multimodal transportation has been on the minds of county officials since they started planning for Metro here years ago.

“When we started planing for transit, we said ‘we have got to find out how t0 connect people to transit. We knew that biking would be another option for us. When Reston developed under [founder] Bob Simon — I think he is up there cheering — our village centers are within three miles of transit. This kickoff is just the beginning for us.”

Visit Capital Bikeshare online to see membership options, rates and how to use the system.

Photos: Top. Del. Ken Plum (second from left), Supervisor Chair Sharon Bulova and Rep. Gerry Connolly among VIPS cutting bikeshare ribbon in Reston; Bottom, Bikeshare station at Reston Station.

by Karen Goff — October 13, 2016 at 10:00 am 25 Comments

Metro SIlver Line Map/Credit: MetroMetro is considering closing some Silver Line stations during off-peak hours as part of a cost-cutting measure.

That is one option — along with increased bus and rail fares, layoffs for workers and cuts to bus routes — outlined in a report released Tuesday to prepare Metro board members for upcoming budget negotiations.

Metro is facing a $275 million budget shortfall, the report says. The formal budget report will be released in November and the 2017 budget will be adopted in the spring.

The reductions in off-peak service would save the rail system $15 million annually, the report says.

Affected Virginia Silver Line stations would include Spring Hill, Greensboro, McLean, and Virginia Square-GMU.

Read more about cost-cutting options in this Washington Post story.

See the entire budget prep report on Metro’s website.

by Karen Goff — October 12, 2016 at 4:15 pm 4 Comments

Bikeshare station at Reston Station

Who is ready to ride?

Capital Bikeshare will launch its first Fairfax County operation next week, bringing 29 stations to Reston and Tysons.

You may have seen the bikeshare stations being installed at locations such as Reston Station, Reston Town Center and the Reston Regional Library.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the $1.7 million program for Reston and Tyson last January. In late 2015, the supervisors OKed the county’s application for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s FY 2017 Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) Grant Application, which gives $400,000 as seed money for bike share program. That money will go to pay for needed equipment such as bicycles and station hardware.

There will be 132 bicycles in Reston at 15 stations located between the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station and Reston Town Center; and 80 bicycles available in Tysons at 11 stations located east of Route 7, north of Route 123, and south of the Dulles Toll Road.

There will be a ribbon cutting at Wiehle-Reston East on Oct. 21 at 2 p.m. with Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and  Fairfax County Bicycle Program Manager Adam Lind.

Here is where Reston’s bikshare stations will be located:

  • Wiehle-Reston East Metro Plaza (two locations)
  • Old Reston Avenue / W&OD
  • North Shore Drive and Temporary Road
  • Sunset Hills Road
  • Reston Town Center Transit Station
  • Reston Executive Center
  • Market Street and Town Center Parkway
  • Reston Town Center Ice Rink
  • Reston Town Center Town Square
  • Reston Hospital
  • Reston Regional Library
  • New Dominion Parkway
  • Spectrum Center
  • Lake Anne Elementary
  • Lake Anne Village Center

Read more about how to join or use Capital Bikeshare on the company’s website.

by Karen Goff — October 10, 2016 at 1:00 pm 11 Comments

Wiehle-Reston East parking garageMetro has put out a Request For Proposals (RFP) to have a private company take over operations and maintenance of all of its parking facilities, including garages and parking meters on its property.

In exchange for a giant upfront payment equal to 50 years of parking fees, the concessionaire would have to operate and maintain almost 60,000 parking spaces. It’d also get to collect all the parking fees.

Metro has lots or garages at 48 stations in DC, Maryland and Virginia. That’s more than 59,000 parking spaces and 3,445 meters, Metro says.

Despite Wiehle-Reston East being listed on the original RFP, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has since amended that entry.

The Wiehle-Reston East garage, which has about 3,000 spaces and is the only station on the Silver Line with a parking garage, is owned by Fairfax County, so it is unclear what will happen at that garage.

“Metro wants to get back to its core base, which is operating running a safe rail system,” said Maggie Parker, spokesman for Comstock, which built the Wiehle-Reston East garage in a public-private partnership with Fairfax County. “But Wiehle-Reston East is not theirs to include [in the RFP].”

The RFP was put out in August and the deadline for submissions is Oct. 28. Metro says it will pick a contractor by the end of the year.

By giving over the parking garages to a private company, WMATA could get as much as $1 billion upfront, according to analysis by Greater Greater Washington. It also gets Metro out of the business of running parking lots so it can concentrate on running a transit system.

Under the RFP guidelines, WMATA would allow operators to change the parking garage hours and rates (subject to WMATA Board approval).

Says GGW:

WMATA and the funding jurisdictions would lose almost $50 million in current parking revenues per year, which is approximately half of the annual estimated budget shortfall WMATA has had at the beginning of the typical budget season for the past 12 years.

So in addition to the usual $100 million in budget savings, fare increases, and juridictional subsidy increases to close the typical budget gap, WMATA would have to find an additional $50 million a year to make up for the loss in parking revenue.

GGW also points out the deal could limit Metro’s freedom to boost ridership or redevelop stations. It also says bids could include proposals to charge for parking during nights and weekends.

Other caveats:

Paid weekend parking could affect overall ridership, which would affect Metro’s bottom line.

Metro could lose the ability to control prices or usage of the parking lots without financial penalties.

by Karen Goff — October 7, 2016 at 4:50 pm 0

METRO Wiehle-Reston EastTrains were delayed due to police activity at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station Friday afternoon.

A citizen notified transit police about 3:45 p.m. of a threatening note left aboard the train, said Metro spokesman Dan Stessel.

Trains were held while the Metro Transit Police Department K9 K9 swept the train and deemed it safe.

The trains were given the all clear about 4:45 p.m.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list