(Updated at 9:30 a.m. The previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Metro was seeking the county board’s approval for the Silver Line project).
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider approval of changes to Herndon and Reston bus service to meet the needs of the Silver Line extension project.
The new bus routes would be run by the Fairfax Connector and provide enhanced service connecting routes coming from and to the new Metro stations along the new Silver Line extension.
Other plans for new connections and routes from Chantilly and Centreville into the Dulles Corridor, a route from the Loudoun campus of the Northern Virginia Community College, and from Sterling to Herndon. These connections and routes are designed to increase transit access to areas reliant for travel and employment.
Metro plans to open six new stops along the line this year. Those stops will run along the Dulles Airport Highway and its adjacent toll roads. The new stations for the line extension will be located at Reston Town Center, Herndon, Innovation, Loudoun Gateway, Ashburn, and will end at the Dulles International Airport.
Metro official opened phase one of its Silver Line in July 2014, stops along the line included McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill, and Wiehle-Reston East. Most of these stations are served by Fairfax Connector buses.
According to Metro, while the physical stations themselves have been completed the stops themselves are still closed to the public due to ongoing construction and safety hazards. These include the installation and testing of high-voltage electrical systems.
In preparation for the line, Fairfax County has constructed two park and ride garages at the Herndon station and the Innovation Center. There will be a total combined 3,950 parking spaces in the garages for Metro commuters to use once the second phase officially opens.
Metro plans to open the Silver Line extension in the first quarter of 2022 pending. The board will consider approval of bus service changes at its meeting on February 22.
Photo by Chuck Samuelson/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project
Metrobus Services Returns Next Month — Metrobus will resume its regular services on Feb. . The service has been operating on a modified Saturday schedule with 75 percent of normal weekday service — since January. While absenteeism remains high, Metro said that employees are returning to work following their quarantine periods. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]
Park Authority Names New Officers — The Fairfax County Park Authority Board has elected new officers for this year. Bill Bouie, who represents the Hunter Mill District will return to his 14th term as chairman. [Fairfax County Government]
Westbound Route 7 Traffic Shift to Begin — Starting on or about Feb. 3, a lane shift to the south between Carpers Farm way and Colvin Run Forest Drive is planned. Crews are continuing the construction of the pedestrian underpass at Colvin Run Mill Park. [Virginia Department of Transportation]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Reston Chamber Plans for 2022 — The Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce is offering a full slate of live events to support local business owners. President Charles Kapur reflects on last year’s successes. [Reston Patch]
Restonian to Chair State Chamber of Commerce — Fred Thompson, chief administrative officer of Reston-based Thompson Hospitality Corp., was elected chair of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. [Virginia Business]
Reston Art Gallery Begins New Shows — Reston Art Gallery is kicking off a new display called Winter Winds. The gallery is on display through Feb. 27 at Lake Anne Plaza. [Tysons Today]
Metro General Manager to Retire — Paul Wiedefeld, Metro’s general manager and CEO will retire from Metro in six months after more than six years with the transit agency. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Further Investigations Continue on 7000-series Railcars — Metro’s general manager and chief executive officer says he does not plan on bringing 7000-series trains into service until an engineering and mechanical analysis on technology solutions occurs. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]
Herndon M&T Bank to Be Revamped — M&T Bank in Herndon will be revamped so that it expands financial access to ethnically, racially, and diverse communities. The branch is among 23 multicultural centers operated by the bank. [M&T]
Reston Association Releases Camps Schedule — The association has released its camps schedule and activities guide. [RA]
Schools Superintendent Gets Another Role — Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Braband has been named the new executive director of the Virginia Association of Schools Superintendents. [VASS]
Photo by vantagehill/Flickr
Grandfather Accused of BASE Jumps — Police believe that a 70-year-old grandfather — a former local runner — is the prime suspect in several BASE jumps from area skyscrapers. It’s possible that Chuck Moeser got away with as many as six plunges, including a 32-story plunge over evening traffic. [The Washington Post]
Local Houseplant Swap Today — Residents can swap houseplants today at 1 p.m. at Reston Regional Library. Registration is required for the event. [Reston Regional Library]
Taxi Certificates on Hold — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to maintain the area’s current fleet of taxi cabs. The limit for taxi certificates stands at 654 as demand for other transportations options like Uber and Lyft grows. [Sun Gazette]
Metro to Restore Some Cars — Metro may begin restoring some 7000-series railcars as the system transitions back to service. The move comes after a go-ahead from the Washington Metrorail Satefy Commission, which said it has no technical objections to the plan submitted by Metro. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]
Planning for the Town Center Parkway underpass, which would extend the parkway under the Dulles Toll Road, is officially underway.
A $1 million feasibility study complete by consulting firm Volkert has found that the project, which key to relief congestion in the area and near the Reston Town Center Metro Station, is possible.
The project is expected to cost upwards of $166.8 million, the report estimates.
“The construction of this extension is possible but there are many important steps before this can become a reality,” the report states, adding that stormwater management and coordination with Metro officials, the owners of RTC West and RTC Next, and other design constraints could make the project more challenging.
The underpass would run underneath the Dulles International Airport Access Highway and tracks laid down by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Two bridges are proposed to support eastbound and westbound traffic over the Town Center Parkway.
Two signalized intersections would also be needed at the intersections of Sunrise Valley Drive and a future road. Construction would need to be conducted in three phases.
The project extends Town Center Parkway southward from the intersection with Sunset Hills Road to the intersection with Sunrise Valley Drive. Construction of the project would take roughly three years. The study does not set forth a specific construction timeline.
“Fairfax County is pursuing funding for the Town Center Parkway Underpass project. The schedule will not be set until funding is identified and the project is initiated,” Dan Reinhard, senior project manager with VDOT told Reston Now.
The project was first proposed in 2012 based on a Dulles Corridor Special Study Transportation Analysis and again in the 2018 version of the county’s comprehensive plan for Reston.
The report estimated that a minimum of 255 parking spaces would be impacted by the project — resulting in property damages amounting to roughly $3.4 million. Further evaluation is needed to determine how the project would impact businesses and parking spaces.
The complete report will available online.
Image via Google Maps
With Silver Line Phase 2 finally reaching substantial completion, the clock has started ticking on when the line will actually open to riders.
Late last week, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) announced the completion of major construction on the long-delayed multi-billion dollar transportation project that will extend the Silver Line from Reston into Loudoun County with six new stations.
“This is a significant step toward completing the 11.5-mile extension that will provide rail service for residents in Reston, Herndon and eastern Loudoun County and give Metro riders direct access to Dulles Airport,” wrote Jack Potter, MWAA’s president and CEO, in last week’s press release.
However, the project has not been handed over to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) just yet, an authority spokesperson confirmed to Reston Now.
“Metro looks forward to entering the next phase of the project, during which we will perform hundreds of tests to ensure the extension can be operated safely and reliably before the Board accepts ownership and sets an opening date,” they wrote. “Metro takes full ownership only after the operational readiness evaluation and pre-revenue activities are satisfactorily completed.”
While this is fully expected and doesn’t necessarily impact the timeline for the line’s opening to riders, there are several steps that still need to happen prior to the handover.
First, Metro’s set to conduct about 200 safety tests with any necessary repairs being made. At the same time, Metro’s safety oversight body – Washington Metrorail Safety Commission – will start the certification that the line is safe.
Additionally, the railyard needs to be completed before Metro takes over the project. It currently remains unfinished, both WMATA and MWAA spokespeople confirmed to Reston Now. Hensel Phelps is the contractor for that portion of the project.
When testing, repairs, certification, and the railyard all are done, the Metro Board will vote to take “provisional control” of the project. After that happens, WMATA will set a date to launch passenger service and will begin employee training, simulations, and emergency drills.
In total, this all should take about six months, meaning that a tentative date for opening could be May 2022.
“We’re not projecting an opening date. [It is] dependent on many factors, and the Board will ultimately make that determination,” wrote a WMATA spokesperson.
In the meantime, the public can expect to see more trains running on the line, according to MWAA, as there’ll be a significant increase in testing in the coming months.
While months remain before passengers can catch a ride to Herndon or Ashburn, substantial completion marks a significant milestone for the long-delayed project.
“This is a major step in bringing passenger rail service to Dulles Airport and beyond. And as our residents know well, rail to Dulles has been years in the making,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor (and alternate on the Metro Board) Walter Alcorn wrote in a statement to Reston Now. “The progress of this phase of the Silver Line is made possible by Dulles Toll Road users and landowners who funded most of the project and have waited patiently for this day. I look forward to all parties working together to initiate passenger service during the coming months.”
McKay appeared to reiterate his frustration in a statement to Reston Now.
“This is great news from WMATA this week. While the work was still incredibly behind and WMATA has a lot to do to rebuild trust with customers, I’m happy to see that significant [progress] has been made so we can fully open the Silver Line soon,” wrote McKay.
Initially, Silver Line Phase 2 construction was scheduled to be completed in 2018. But contractor issues, design changes, flawed materials, defective panels, and bad concrete all led to the years-long hold up which has tested the patience and viability of local businesses near the stations.
(Updated, Nov. 9) After years of delays, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has announced that it has reached substantial completion on Silver Line Phase 2.
The announcement came Thursday afternoon and nearly two weeks after the successful tie-in of the two lines at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station
MWAA is preparing to hand over the $2.8 billion public transportation project to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Metro currently owns the project and still has sole responsibility for the project until Metro assumes ownership.
WMATA has confirmed to Reston Now that the agency will still need about six months to complete testing and pre-revenue preparations before opening to riders. However, they are not yet setting an official opening date.
“Metro looks forward to entering the next phase of the project, during which we will perform hundreds of tests to ensure the extension can be operated safely and reliably before the Board accepts ownership and sets an opening date,” writes a WMATA spokesperson to Reston Now.
If that six month timeline does remain accurate, Silver Line Phase 2 should open to riders in May 2022.
From MWAA’s press release:
Silver Line Phase 2 Reaches Major Milestone
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority officials announced Thursday they have declared substantial completion for work by Capital Rail Constructors (CRC) on Phase 2 of the Metrorail Silver Line extension project. The work by CRC, a joint venture led by Clark Construction Group and Kiewit, is a key component of the project to extend the region’s Metrorail public transit system to Dulles International Airport and beyond.
Substantial Completion means major construction is complete and allows operational readiness testing to begin, during which the contractor will demonstrate the project’s functionality, as a key step toward delivering the new rail line to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which operates the Metrorail system.
“This is a significant step toward completing the 11.5-mile extension that will provide rail service for residents in Reston, Herndon and eastern Loudoun County and give Metro riders direct access to Dulles Airport,” said Jack Potter, president and CEO of the Airports Authority. “In addition to providing new public transportation options, the Silver Line is a major catalyst for jobs and economic development in the National Capital region.”
The project also includes a 90-acre rail maintenance yard at Dulles International Airport, being built by Hensel Phelps, which is also nearing completion under a separate contract.
Phase 1 of the Silver Line opened in 2014, extending Metrorail service from East Falls Church to the eastern edge of Reston and triggering major transformations in the Tysons Corner and Wiehle Avenue areas. Those same trends are beginning along Phase 2, with changes already underway along the Dulles Corridor in Reston, Herndon and Ashburn, and at Dulles International Airport. The Silver Line’s goal is to help ease traffic congestion by providing alternative routes and easier commuting times, access to regional entertainment, shopping and Dulles Airport.
In a statement, contractor Capital Rail Constructors calls this a “significant milestone.” Here’s more from Keith Couch, the company’s project director:
“After successful Phase 1 and Phase 2 tie-in testing at Wiehle Avenue, MWAA has approved substantial completion of the Package A Silver Line Phase 2 project. The project will now move into Operational Readiness Testing, which will be completed by MWAA and WMATA. This significant milestone is a testament to the hard work, dedication, and collaboration of the project team and stakeholders. The CRC team is proud to have been a part of this transformational piece of infrastructure for the region.”
(Updated, 3:50 p.m.) Work to tie-in Silver Line Phase 2 to Phase 1 was completed this past weekend, a Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) spokesperson tells Reston Now.
“The tie-in was a success and the Automatic Train Control System has been connected,” says spokesperson Marcia McAllister.
The work nessicated a shutdown of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station.
One of the main goals was to finish the automatic train control system and it was completed, says McAllister. Additionally, signal infrastructure tests were done and those are still being reviewed.
There remains one or items that need to be finished, but those items can be completed without service outages, says McAllister.
However, MWAA is not committing to a date or specific timeframe for substantial completion and for when the $2.8 billion public transportation project could be handed over to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
“We are now following procedures set forth in the contract so we can move forward with what needs to be done to keep this project moving forward,” wrote McAllister when asked about a specific timetable.
In September, WMATA scheduled a weekend shutdown of Wiehle-Reston East Metro station in order to allow MWAA and the contractor Capital Rail Contractors (CRC) to connect the first and second phase of the Silver Line as well as perform tests related to signal infrastructure.
This work was crucial to keeping the opening of Silver Line Phase 2 on track and originally was supposed to be finished in June, but that didn’t happen as expected and necessitated a second shutdown.
All of this comes at a particularly fraught time for Metro as service has been drastically reduced to at least mid-November due to ongoing investigations into 7000-series cars related to the Blue Line train derailment in Arlington earlier this month.
“The Airports Authority, WMATA and lead contractor Capital Rail Constructors worked together to make this a success,” reiterated McAllister.
Reston Now has reached to CRC about how the tie-in work this past weekend may impact their own assessment of a timeline for substantial completion, but have to yet to hear back as of publication.
Early last month, WMATA officials noted that it could be done and handed over to them in November.
However, there now seems to be some hedging on this timeline. At the Fairfax County Transportation Committee meeting at the end of September, it was announced that MWAA was “holding, at the moment, to the fourth quarter of 2021.”
A clearly-frustrated Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn responded at the meeting that it better be done prior to the Christmas holiday.
“Our next meeting of the transportation committee is December 14,” he said. “We better have substantial completion by then.”
Snow Days to Stay — The Fairfax County Public Schools System is resuming snow days this year after the pandemic changed the school system’s inclement weather policy. The first five snowy days will be traditional inclement weather days. But after that, the school system plans to have unscheduled virtual learning days “wherever possible.” [FCPS]
Metro Hires Consultants to Analyze Safety — The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Board of Directors plans to hire an external consultant to offer advice on safety. The move comes a week after the derailment of a Metrorail train on the Blue Line. [Reston Patch]
Reston Company Raises $4.5 Million in Seed Round — ForecastEra, Reston-based company, formally announced a new seed round investment of $4.5 million. The company offers a account planning, sales, revenue and demand forecast suite that is native to Salesforce. [InsideNOVA]
Reduced Metro Service Today — Expect reduced Metro service today as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority investigates the recent Blue Line derailment. Metro is holding all of its 7000-series railcars — nearly 60 percent of its rail fleet — out of service. A safety investigation found defects in one of the railcars involved in last Tuesday’s derailment. [WMATA]
Elden Street Business Robbed — Police are looking for a suspect who robbed a business on the 500 block of Elden Street yesterday morning. The man was seen leaving in a red four-door Honda or Toyota. [Herndon Police Department]
Lane and Ramp Closures in Effect on Dulles Toll Road — A number of lane, shoulder and road closures are in effect this week along the Dulles Toll Road, Dulles Greenway and Autopilot Drive. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]
Photo by Marjorie Copson
As Silver Line Phase 2 slowly pulls into the station of completion, local officials are expressing their frustration at constant delays and missed deadlines.
In a brief update at yesterday’s (Sept. 28) Fairfax County Transportation Committee meeting, it was reiterated that Silver Line Phase 2 is expected to be substantially completed by the end of the year.
“In our discussions with [Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority], they are holding, at the moment, to the fourth quarter of 2021,” said Martha Elena Coello, special projects division chief for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.
There are currently only two unresolved issues, according to a slideshow presented at the meeting, both of which are at the railyard and do not need to be resolved for substantial completion.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said he was hopeful that meant MWAA would be handing over the project to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority [WMATA] in late October, after the planned outage at Wiehle-East Reston Metro Station to tie-in the two lines. That work was supposed to be completed in June.
Alcorn and others at the meeting showed their frustration at how Silver Line Phase 2 has been besieged by constant delays.
“This is four years overdue from the original date,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay. “To not express some frustration here… would be a mistake. I think all of us are very frustrated.”
Alcorn also was noticeably exasperated at the pace of the project.
“Our next meeting of the transportation committee is December 14. We better have substantial completion by then,” he said.
In response, MWAA acknowledges the disappointment that many have about the delays.
“We understand the frustrations of everybody, elected officials and public alike,” MWAA spokesperson Marcia McAllister told Reston Now. “Our goal is to proceed with the [October] outage, evaluate the work that is done that weekend, and make decisions as soon as possible.”
McAllister also reiterated that MWAA is “holding on to fourth quarter 2021” as a timeline for substantial completion.
While MWAA said it would be completed by the end of the year, CRC said spring 2022.
But now, CRC seems to be backing off their timeline, noting that increased collaboration with the authorities have quickened the pace.
“We are working together with MWAA and WMATA on coordinating and finalizing testing to target substantial completion of the Silver Line Phase 2A in Q4,” CRC project executive Keith Couch wrote in a statement to Reston Now.
Even if Silver Line Phase 2 is substantially completed by late October, as noted in the presentation provided to the committee, WMATA will still need approximately six months to complete testing, pre-revenue preparations, and to open the system to riders.
That could mean an opening date of April or May 2022.
The $2.8 billion public transportation project will include six new stations, extending Metro from Reston to Loudoun County.
It remains a potential game changer for the region, though many with financial investment connected to the project have grown understandably impatient.
“A lot of folks have contributed substianal money to making this happen,” said McKay at the transportation committee meeting. “And they are sitting here, waiting for service.”
The Wiehle-Reston East Metro station will be closed during the weekend of Oct. 23 and 24 so crews can work to connect the first and second phase of the Silver Line.
This will be the second time in six months that the station has been shut down so the two phases can be tied together after work and tests related to signal infrastructure were not completed in June as expected, necessitating another shutdown.
If the work is completed as hoped this time, it will be a major milestone for the $2.8 billion Silver Line Phase 2 project, potentially putting it on track for substantial completion by November.
The scheduled shutdown was added to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) track work page shortly after officials delivered an update on the project to the WMATA board yesterday (Thursday).
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) spokesperson Marcia McAllister said in an email to Reston Now that the scheduling of the shutdown for late October is “great news.”
“Now that a date has been set for the service outage needed to allow completion of the tie-in between Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Silver Line, the Airports Authority and our contractors can get this essential work done in October and move the project toward substantial completion,” McAllister wrote.
Substantial completion refers to the point when MWAA will be ready to hand the project to WMATA. The authority previously set Labor Day weekend as the deadline but acknowledged in July that it wouldn’t meet that timeline.
At the board meeting, WMATA officials said they were comfortable with MWAA setting a new substantial completion deadline for the end of this year, stating that the work will most likely be finished in November.
If that is the case, Metro will still need another five to six months of operational readiness testing and pre-revenue activities, but that could mean the Silver Line Phase 2 will open to riders by May 2022.
However, in MWAA’s most recent monthly report, the project’s contractor Capital Rail Constructors proposed a substantial date of May 19, 2022, which could push the opening all the way to late 2022. It wasn’t the first time that the two parties disagreed on the project’s schedule.
Shortly after the report was released, though, CRC project executive Keith Couth told Reston Now that there were “opportunities through collaboration” to improve on that date and get it completed much sooner.
When reached for comment, Couch reiterated that they are working to finish by the end of this year.
“We are in the testing phase of the project which is very dependent on coordinating and finalizing testing with MWAA and WMATA, including scheduling of the next outage at Wiehle Avenue and the review of test reports,” Couch said. “In collaboration with MWAA and WMATA, we are working together to improve on the schedule, targeting a substantial completion in Q4.”
With the Wiehle shutdown now scheduled and the contractor supportive of a hoped-for 2021 substantial completion date, Silver Line Phase 2 is seemingly back on track after years of delays that have frustrated local officials, residents, and businesses alike.
“Level F” testing — meaning testing with actual trains — also began late last month and is going well, according to WMATA officials.
The nearly $3 billion project will extend Metro’s Silver Line from the Wiehle-Reston East station west to Ashburn in Loudoun County. In total, six new stations will be added, including one at Reston Town Center and two in Herndon.
Construction began back in 2014 and was originally supposed to finish in 2018.
Photo via Fairfax Connector
A newly proposed timeline for Silver Line Phase 2 pushes the date for substantial completion of the project to May 19, 2022, nearly one month later than previously suggested.
The date comes from contractor Capital Rail Constructors and was included in the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s July monthly report, which was finished on Aug. 26 and released on Wednesday (Sept. 1).
Like before, MWAA says in its report that it disagrees with the contractor’s projected “longest path” timeline.
“Based on the remainder of work to be accomplished, the Airports Authority believes that the Substantial Completion date can be accomplished within Q4 2021,” the report says.
The business was contractually obligated to complete the project in August 2019, MWAA spokesperson Marcia McAllister said.
A phase known as Level F testing began this week and could last several weeks, she said. While components work on their own, this process helps ensure that the entire system works together.
“We are in the testing phase of the project, which is very dependent on coordinating and finalizing testing with MWAA and WMATA, including scheduling of the next outage at Wiehle Avenue and the review of test reports,” Keith Couch, project executive for Capital Rail Constructors, said in a statement.
The Wiehle-Reston East Metro station was shut down for a weekend in late June so workers could tie together the Silver Line’s first and second phases, but some tests were not completed over those two days, so another outage is needed.
WMATA says it typically provides information about planned track work about eight weeks in advance. As of today (Friday), no notice about a Wiehle station shutdown has been posted.
While the new timeline extends the substantial completion date from April 21 to May 19, Capital Rail Constructors suggested that the completion could shift to this year.
“While based on the information available at this time our schedule shows a May 2022 substantial completion date, there are opportunities through collaboration with MWAA and WMATA to improve on that date and complete the project by October of this year,” Couch said in the statement.
Matt Letourneau, a Loudoun County supervisor on the WMATA board of directors, said yesterday (Thursday) at a Northern Virginia Transportation Commission meeting that despite the contractor placing the substantial completion date into 2022, the Airports Authority has not changed its fall 2021 timeline.
The $2.8 billion project will extend Metro’s Silver Line from the Wiehle station westward to Ashburn in Loudoun County, adding six new stations along the Dulles Toll Road.
Substantial completion represents the moment when MWAA will be ready to hand the 23-mile extension over to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Officials previously expected Metro to take control of the project by Labor Day, but MWAA admitted in early July that it won’t make that deadline.
After the substantial completion, it will still take at least half a year before the line can begin operating publicly, since Metro needs to conduct its own testing, training, and other activities, a WMATA presentation in July noted.
Preliminary construction for Phase 2 began in 2014. It was originally supposed to open in 2018.
Starting over Labor Day weekend, transfers between Metro trains and Fairfax Connector buses will be free.
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) said yesterday (Monday) it has partnered with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to provide free transfers on nearly all Connector bus routes beginning on Sunday (Sept. 5).
This lines up with Metro’s new policy of also offering free bus transfers, which was first announced earlier this month.
“Fairfax Connector has historically aligned fare policies with Metrobus and by doing so, helps create a seamless experience for users when moving between transit services provided by WMATA and the County,” FCDOT spokesperson Robin Geiger wrote in an email. “That’s why we are partnering with WMATA to extend their program to Fairfax Connector bus service to provide good customer service and provide incentives to ride transit.”
The two exceptions will be the Fairfax Connector Express Service and the Wolf Trap shuttle. Both will be discounted by $2, though, with the use of WMATA’s SmarTrip card or app.
This is a pilot program that will operate for the next 10 months, through early July 2022, Geiger says.
Fairfax Connector serves all Metro stations located in Fairfax County. This will include all Silver Line Phase 2 stations once those open, Geiger confirms.
Additionally, the Wolf Trap shuttle will start again operating on Sept. 5. The shuttle runs between the West Falls Church Metro station and Wolf Trap National Park’s Filene Center.
The new policy is part of a larger push to encourage increased ridership on the Fairfax Connector as schools, offices, and other public places reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We hope that when people go back to their workplaces, they consider returning to or trying transit for the first time,” writes Geiger. “Now, is the time to ride because the free transfer from Fairfax Connector to Metrorail or from Metrorail to Fairfax Connector saves money and because Fairfax Connector continues to provide a safe and healthy environment on buses.”
In May, county officials said they were reviewing possibly reducing or even eliminating fares altogether on the Fairfax Connector.
To help with this, the county was planning to apply for grant funds from Virginia’s Transit Ridership Incentive Program. The application deadline for the program is Sept. 17. Geiger says there’s currently no additional information on the possibility of reducing or eliminating fares.