Fairfax County supervisors have approved using I-66 toll money for bus projects servicing Reston, one of which involves creating a new bus route.
The commuting programs will create a route from the Reston South Park and Ride to key destinations in Arlington County and reduce fares for the Fairfax Connector Route 599 from $7.50 to $4.25.
Supervisors approved the efforts during a public meeting yesterday (Tuesday), following transit officials’ approvals last year.
Like Route 599, the new service will go to the Pentagon, Pentagon City and Crystal City. It’ll involve 10 morning and 10 evening express routes for a period of two years.
The $5.1 million in funding awarded for that project mostly covers the costs of acquiring six new buses, eyed for purchase in 2023.
A county document suggested that the fare reduction could start in the fall of 2022, with $154,500 in funding lasting through Sept. 30, 2025.
The money for the projects comes through the Commuter Choice program, which seeks to improve transportation in the I-66 corridor, with the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and Commonwealth Transportation Board deciding last year to award the money to Fairfax County for the projects.
Fairfax Schools Settle Lawsuit — Fairfax County Public Schools has reached a settlement with parents and advocacy groups over a lawsuit that alleged students with disabilities experience discrimination, trauma, and physical harm through the improper use of seclusion and physical restraint. The agreement ends a lawsuit that lasted for more than two years. [Washington Post]
Ramp Closures Along Multiple I-66 Interchanges In Effect — Overnight ramp closures are expected from today through Dec. 4 for the Transform 66 outside the Beltway project. Several ramps will be impacted as part of the project. [Virginia Department of Transportation]
A Cyber Monday Reminder from FCPD — The Fairfax County Police Department is reminding residents of its package theft prevention tips. Some suggestions include closely tracking delivery so that dates and times are known and asking a neighbor to watch for your deliveries. [FCPD]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Regional transportation officials are considering more ways to improve transit along the I-66 corridor, led by a multi-million-dollar proposal to create a new express bus route from Reston to key Arlington County work sites.
The express bus is one of four projects now up for public comment as the Northern Virginia Transit Commission decides what to fund for the latest round of the agency’s I-66 Commuter Choice program, which has $7 million in available funds, according to NVTC senior manager Ben Owen.
These four projects are part of a supplemental fourth round for fiscal year 2022 after the NVTC approved an initial batch of projects last year that was limited by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on I-66 toll revenue, which funds the Commuter Choice program.
The available money includes prior-year carryover that hasn’t been allocated, interest from the funds, and money released back to the commission from past projects that finished, NVTC communications and public affairs manager Matt Friedman said in a statement.
One of two projects proposed by Fairfax County, the new express bus service would connect Fairfax Connector’s Reston South Park and Ride lot with key employment destinations in Arlington County, including the Pentagon and Pentagon City and ending in Crystal City.
The county is seeking $5.1 million to cover two years of operating costs for the service as well as the purchase of six buses.
For its other project, the county has requested $154,000 to reduce Connector fares from $7.50 to $4.25 on the 599 express route from the Reston North Park and Ride to the Pentagon, Pentagon City, and Crystal City Metro stations in Arlington.
The other projects up for public comment come from OmniRide, which is seeking $85,000 to provide $200 per month incentives for new vanpools along I-66, and the Town of Vienna, which has applied for $5 million to design and construct a new Park and Ride lot at the soon-to-be-renovated Patrick Henry Library.
Staff presented a report on the proposed projects to the commission yesterday (Thursday). They recommended funding all of the projects except for the Patrick Henry Park and Ride.
For each round of Commuter Choice funding, NVTC staff give each of the submitted projects a technical score out of 100 that’s based primarily on their potential for reducing congestion, but also takes other factors into account.
The Town of Vienna’s proposal actually received a higher technical score of 56 than Fairfax County’s Reston North fare subsidy idea, which got a score of 44. However, staff said that the Patrick Henry Park and Ride would “exceed the available funding,” pushing the total cost of the projects to $10 million.
“The staff recommendation to fund Fairfax County’s fare buy-down proposal reflects the strong regional interest in fare reduction and equity initiatives,” NVTC staff wrote in their report. “It would also be a low-cost/costeffective means to help rebuild transit ridership in the I-66 Corridor.”
The OmniRide project received the highest score (62), followed by the Reston South express bus service (59).
Excluding the Vienna Park and Ride, the projects would move an additional 250 transit users through the I-66 corridor inside the Capital Beltway each morning when fully implemented, according to NVTC estimates.
The Commuter Choice program allows proposals to be resubmitted for future funding cycles if they’re not approved.
The public comment period runs through Sept. 17. People can participate by filling out a 12-step online form, providing feedback by email and phone, and joining in a virtual town hall this coming Wednesday (Sept. 8).
After the public comment period, NVTC will determine what it wants to fund, but the 17-member Commonwealth Transportation Board will have final approval over which projects are selected.
The commission is scheduled to approve its program on Oct. 7, followed by the CTB vote on Oct. 20.
Sameride, a ridesharing app that allows drivers and passengers to offer and request rides, has launched a new route from Herndon, Reston and Loudoun County to Arlington and the District.
More than 140 commuters are registered for the service, which allows app drivers and passengers to offer or request rides before taking off for their commute. Unlike taxi services, Sameride is an on-demand carpool service that helps connect drivers and drivers commuting on the same route.
Commuters can carpool on express lanes between Park & Ride commuter lots and their offices. The company, which first launched a route between Woodbridge and Tysons Corner, serves around 250 commuters. Company officials estimate the service can help customers who commute between the Herdon-Monroe Park & Ride lot and Rosslyn Metro Station $300 on rider’s fares or $590 on express lanes tolls on a monthly basis.
Andriy Klymchuk, a company representative for Sameride, said demand for a carpool matching service from Reston and Herndon has grown.
“This demand is due to the conversion of I-66 into high-occupancy toll express lanes, new residential constructions in the area and expansion of Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride lot. The same is true for Loudoun County commuters,” Klymchuk said. “In addition, Reston area serves as a hub for Sameride commuters coming on 267. Some commuters drive from as far as west of Leesburg and pick-up riders at the commuter lots near Reston.”
Klymchuk offered the following information about how the company differs from other ridesharing services:
Think about it as a commute sharing. You and your neighbor happen to work in the same location and you agree to ride to work together. With Sameride you do the same but through the app that allows you to create on-demand carpools. You can choose to be a driver or a rider, set your pick-up time and locations, commute once or daily, create ride requests or offers a few hours or a week before your commute. Drivers benefit from using HOT express lanes toll-free and riders benefit from getting a free commute. Both parties benefit from getting to the office and back home faster.
The app is available on iOS and Android.
Photo via Sameride
Who represents Northern Virginians — “Loudoun County will join the Metro Compact when the Silver Line extension opens in about two years, but Loudoun, Alexandria and Arlington would frequently not have their own voting member on the panel. ” [WTOP]
Jewelry making at Reston Regional Library today — Learn the basics of jewelry making and create an original piece in this hands-on workshop for adults. Registration is required for this event and the library will provide materials. [Reston Regional Library]
Expect a notification at 2:18 p.m. — Your cell phone will go off (not on you, we hope) due to a test of the presidential emergency alert system. [U.S. Department of Homeland Security]
Nearby: Uprooted thanks to I-66 — “Nearly a dozen homeowners in Fairfax County are having their houses taken by the state in an eminent domain case. The residents being impacted live near Interstate 66 as the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) plans to expand the highway and surrounding roadways.” [FOX 5]
Flickr pool photo by vantagehill
Need a minute? — Drivers paying tolls on I-66 inside the Beltway can save a lot of money by leaving just a few minutes earlier, according to a new study. [WTOP]
It’s summer restaurant week soon — So far, three restaurants are taking part in the Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week. [Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington]
Nearby: McLean residents push for Beltway on-ramp closure — “The ramp from Virginia Route 193/Georgetown Pike to the Inner Loop, just before the American Legion Bridge into Maryland, would be closed from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.” [WTOP]
Flickr pool photo by vantagehill
I-66 slows traffic — Major construction for the toll project will create sluggish conditions, so all rides between Loudoun County Transit stops and the Wiehle-Reston East stations will be free. [WTOP]
R-E-S-P-E-C-T — Spencer Alston, a lacrosse player at South Lakes High School, received the 2018 Lou Peterson “Respect the Game” award. [The Connection]
Walk it off — Hundreds walked together at Walk MS Reston at Reston Town Center earlier this month. A total of $177,109 was raised in order to end multiple sclerosis. [The Connection]
Flickr pool photo by vantagehill
Cause of Reston house fire unknown — A single-family home on the 12100 block of Quorn Lane sustained roughly $37,500 in damages on Saturday. An investigation is ongoing. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]
OVHcloud hovers in Reston — The global hyper-scale cloud provider celebrated its grand opening ceremony yesterday. [OVHcloud]
If you have ideas to improve the I-66 corridor — 17 projects are up for funding by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission. You can give your thoughts on what projects you think should be funded today at the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce. [NVTC]
Reception to Celebrate Exhibit About Public Art in Reston Tonight — Public Art Reston and Reston Historic & Museum will co-host a reception to celebrate the exhibit Reston: The Art of Community at the museum (1639 Washington Plaza North) from 5:30 – 7 pm. The reception will be followed by a screening of Peabody Award winning director Rebekah Wingert-Jabi’s Fun, Beauty, Fantasy: Reston’s Public Art and A Bird in the Hand – Patrick Dougherty’s Sculptural Installation in Reston, VA from 7 – 8:30 p.m. at the Jo Ann Rose Gallery at Reston Community Center Lake Anne (1609 Washington Plaza North). Attendance is free. RSVP by emailing [email protected] [Public Art Reston]
Virginia Officials Push Hard on E-ZPass Awareness for I-66 Tolls — State officials plan to encourage more drivers to get an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex. Around half of drivers using Interstate 66 do not have the devices, even though new tolls lanes will open in less than two months. [WTOP]
Meet Marion Baker at CenterStage Tonight — Baker, who has been the principal cellist of the Fairfax Symphony for several years, will be featured in this event at Center Stage (2310 Colts Neck Road) from 2:15 – 3:30 p.m. tonight. All ages are welcome. [Reston Community Center]