Building on Reston’s Transit Tradition: Enhancing Bus Service with the Arrival of Metrorail

Reston 2020 Committee Reston Citizens Association 2/27/2013

RCA Reston 2020 Committee

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BUILDING ON RESTON’S TRANSIT TRADITION: ENHANCING BUS SERVICE WITH THE ARRIVAL OF METRORAIL

PREPARED BY: THE RESTON 2020 COMMITTEE RESTON CITIZENS ASSOCIATION
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SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS:
1. Maximize public transit service to Wiehle Station. Encourage use of public transit by making Reston bus service more frequent, reliable and easy to use, with fast, direct routes to Metrorail. Reduce or eliminate fares for shorter trips if possible, as discussed for Tysons. Feeder Bus Service 2. Increase frequency of Fairfax Connector bus service on all existing rush-hour feeder routes to Wiehle Station (Routes 551-554, 557, 585), and reduce headways on these routes to 15 minutes as currently proposed. Further reduce headways to 10 minutes (the same as proposed for the new Tysons circulators), if possible. Reston Town Center-Sunset Hills Road -Wiehle Station Circulator Service 3. Select the Sunrise Valley-Sunset Hills Circulator (Route 959) route that provides direct all-day, every-day, two-way service between Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station on Sunset Hills Road (“Option 2”). Eliminate the proposed extension of Route 959 to Hunter Mill road during peak periods, but continue and extend existing Routes 951 and 952 to provide rush-hour circulator service on underserved portions of Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road. Establish 15-minute rush-hour and mid-day headways for new Route 959 service between Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station via Sunset Hills Road to restore service on this east-west route to pre-2009 levels (former Route 505). Reduce current premium express fares on Route 981 to match the standard base bus fares in Reston. (If the fare is reduced, Route 981 would provide additional cost-competitive service for passengers traveling between Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station. Route 981 uses the Dulles Toll Road, and therefore would not provide additional service along Sunset Hills Road). Reroute some North Herndon buses to serve Reston Town Center and along Sunset Hills Road. Select “Option 2” for one of the two North Herndon buses (Routes 924 or 926) to increase eastbound peak service along Sunset Hills Road as currently proposed. Add a stop at Reston Town Center to provide additional peak service from Town Center to Wiehle Station. Reverse the selected modified route on the
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same roads (rather than routing the westbound bus to Herndon-Monroe as now shown in “Option 2”) to provide similar service in the opposite direction in the evening. 7. Reduce combined headways for all buses providing service between Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station (Routes 959, reduced fare 981, rerouted 924/926 and extended RIBS 4, as discussed below) during peak periods to 6 minutes if possible, the same as current service from other major transit locations in the area (Reston South and Herndon-Monroe) to Metrorail (West Falls Church). Clearly identify the destinations of all buses traveling between Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station, and use similar destination signage and the same bus stops for easy passenger identification and orderly boarding. Express Bus Service To The Pentagon And Crystal City Metrorail Stations 9. Continue Route 951 and 952 express bus service to the Pentagon and Crystal City Metrorail stations, but at reduced service levels set based upon demand and with fares that offset operations and maintenance costs. Extended Peak Service Hours 10. Extend high-frequency peak weekday service on all Reston Connector feeder and circulator routes above beyond current rush-hour periods, preferably extending at least an hour or two into late-morning and early-evening periods. New Mid-Day Routes 11. Add new mid-day routes and two-way service from Reston residential areas, village centers and satellite parking areas to Wiehle Station. New routes could combine segments of current feeder routes, as mentioned at the Connector’s February 21, 2013 presentation. Expand and Equalize RIBS Service 12. Increase off-peak weekday service on RIBS buses to provide additional mid-day and evening connections between residential areas, village centers, Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station. Reduce headways to 15-20 minutes. Add service in the opposite direction on RIBS 2 (currently one-way) to speed travel from South Reston to Wiehle Station (similar to current RIBS 1 and 3 routes).
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13. Extend the RIBS 4 route from Reston Town Center to Wiehle Station as proposed in the 2009 Transit Development Plan to provide direct service (no transfer necessary) for North Reston riders to Metrorail (like other RIBS routes) and to provide additional all-day service between Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station along Sunset Hills Road. 14. Expand weekday evening and Saturday hours of service on RIBS 4 and 5 routes to match those on RIBS 1, 2 and 3 routes. Service Coordination Between Metrorail and Local Connector Buses 15. Expand the service hours for Reston buses providing all-day service (Routes 950 and 959) to meet the first and last trains at Wiehle Station, including late-night and early-morning service on weekends. 16. Coordinate bus schedules during off-peak periods and on weekends to match arrivals and departures of Metrorail trains, to minimize passenger wait time at Wiehle Station. Install electronic signs at both indoor and outdoor Wiehle Station bus bays to provide up-to-date information regarding the trains and buses. Acquire and install GPS devices on Connector buses to provide real-time bus service information. Additional Remote Parking and Pick-Up Locations Along Existing Routes 17. Identify areas in Reston with underutilized parking, including public streets, within walking distance of peak and off-peak Fairfax Connector bus service to Wiehle Station. Designate and publicize these areas as possible locations to park and catch public transit to Wiehle Station. Increase bus service from these locations as necessary to facilitate public transit use during Silver Line “Phase 1” service period. Bus Stop Improvements 18. Improve safety, utility, accessibility and passenger comfort at bus stops by adding lighting, sidewalks and level loading surfaces, and bus shelters. Each stop should have signage showing the bus routes served, and current route maps and daily schedule information. Develop a Smartphone application to provide up-to-date schedule and real-time performance information to passengers.

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Continuous Planning and Review 19. Closely monitor service and ridership after Silver Line “Phase 1” service begins, and adjust routes and schedules as necessary. 20. Prepare contingency plans for “bridge” or other supplemental/back-up bus service to other Silver and Blue Line stations in the event that service is interrupted due to weather or mechanical problems.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS: ...........................................................................................................................ii Introduction...................................................................................................................................................................1 Background....................................................................................................................................................................2 A. B. Brief History......................................................................................................................................................2 Current Bus and Rail Service.............................................................................................................................4 Rush Hour Service .................................................................................................................................................4 Weekdays and Weekends.....................................................................................................................................5 Bus and Metrorail Fares........................................................................................................................................6 C. Fairfax County’s Proposed Changes for Silver Line “Phase 1” Bus Service.......................................................6 Tysons Service Changes ........................................................................................................................................6 Reston Service Changes ........................................................................................................................................7 Discussion ....................................................................................................................................................................11 Specific Recommendations for “Phase 1” Bus Service ................................................................................................13 A. B. C. D. E. F. G. H. I. J. Feeder Bus Service (Routes 551-554, 557, 585) .............................................................................................13 Reston Town Center-Sunset Hills-Wiehle Station Circulator Service (New Route 959) .................................14 Express Bus Service To The Pentagon And Crystal City (Routes 595, 597).....................................................15 Extended Peak Service Hours .........................................................................................................................17 New Mid-Day Routes......................................................................................................................................18 Expanded RIBS Bus Service.............................................................................................................................19 Service Coordination Between Metrorail and Local Connector Buses ...........................................................21 Additional Remote Parking and Pick-Up Locations On Connector Routes .....................................................21 Bus Stop Improvements .................................................................................................................................23 Continuous Planning and Review ...................................................................................................................23

Conclusion ...................................................................................................................................................................24 Appendix: Proposed Silver Line “Phase 1” Fairfax Connector Bus Service Changes...................................................25

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BUILDING ON RESTON’S TRANSIT TRADITION: ENHANCING BUS SERVICE WITH THE ARRIVAL OF METRORAIL
INTRODUCTION
Reston has a local bus system founded by the Reston Community Association (now Reston Citizens Association) more than 40 years ago. This service, now part of the county’s Fairfax Connector system, suffered major cut-backs recently due to the loss of dedicated funds from the Dulles Toll Road. While service on some Reston bus routes has been repaired, later proposed service cuts avoided and even a few new routes added, other Fairfax Connector services in Reston never were fully restored. Silver Line Metrorail service will begin at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station in December 2013. This new rail station likely will be the terminus of the Silver Line for at least five years, until rail service is extended to Dulles Airport and beyond. As the Reston Metrorail Access Group report recognized in 2008, even before the service cutbacks began, Reston will need “more and better transit service” when Metrorail arrives. Indeed, frequent, reliable, affordable and easy to use public transit to the Wiehle Station will be critical given access issues around the station. The Fairfax Connector recently released its proposals for Silver Line “Phase 1” bus service in the Dulles Corridor for public comment. These proposals would end all existing Connector bus service from Reston to the West Falls Church, Pentagon and Crystal City Metro stations, and instead terminate local commuter bus routes at the Wiehle Station, the new transfer point to Metrorail. Service on feeder routes to Wiehle Station would double during peak periods, and mid-day service between Reston Town Center and the Wiehle Station area would be restored to pre-2009 levels. These proposals reflect much thought and contain many good recommendations. In some respects, however, the Connector’s proposals are inadequate to meet Reston’s needs over the next five years.
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RCA Reston 2020 Committee

This report examines the County’s recommendations in the context of Reston’s rich history of transit use and its transit needs as Metrorail arrives in Reston at year-end. It makes a series of recommendations based on its research findings generally calling for more robust transit to meet the needs of Reston’s residents and fulfill the promise of Metrorail use.

BACKGROUND
A. BRIEF HISTORY
For many years, Reston enjoyed robust bus service, both locally and to the West Falls Church Metro station. The first successful commuter bus service was founded by the Reston Community Association (now Reston Citizens Association) in 1968.1 Service now is provided by the Fairfax Connector. Reston service increased over the years, including a significant expansion of mid-day service between Reston Town Center and West Falls Church Metro in 2003. During morning and evening rush-hours, Route 505 buses departed from Town Center every 30 minutes, but the frequency of service was increased to every 15 minutes during mid-day periods. Recently, however, service on some Reston routes has been reduced or even eliminated. Indeed, Fairfax Connector service was cut nearly 40% in May 2009 when revenue from the Dulles Toll Road was lost. Those funds once provided half the cost of commuter service serving the Reston area. The 2009 cuts included reductions to weekday service on Routes 505, 553, 557 and 585. Mid-day service on Route 505 from Town Center to the Reston East park-and-ride (and ultimately to West Falls Church Metro) was cut in half when mid-day frequency was reduced from 15 minutes to 30 minutes.2 North Reston Route 556 was cut entirely.3

1

See Bain, Henry, “The Reston Express Bus: A Case History of Citizen Action to Improve Urban Transportation” (Washington Center for Metropolitan Studies Aug. 1969), available at http://digilib.gmu.edu/dspace/handle/1920/2553.
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In contrast, in November 2009 headways were decreased to 15 minutes during peak periods on Route 950, and earlymorning and late-night trips were added on that route, which serves the Herndon-Monroe garage. A free lunchtime shuttle, the “Tysons Connector,” also was added in the Tysons area. (The shuttle was eliminated in December 2010).
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Connector Route 556 provided weekday rush-hour service, running from Reston Town Center to Reston’s North Point area, then back to Town Center. The same bus continued from Reston Town Center to West Falls Church Metro, but was designated a Route 505 bus. When Route 556 was cancelled in May 2009, the RIBS 4 route was modified to cover part of the

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Additional cuts were proposed in 2010, including elimination of seven Reston lines – Routes 552, 553, 554, 557, 929, 951 and 952 – and elimination of Sunday and late-night service, but additional county funding was found and the proposed cuts were avoided. In November 2010, parking was reduced at the Reston West park-and-ride lot as construction began on the Wiehle Station and garage – approximately 200 of 820 parking spaces were closed. The Fairfax Connector doubled the number of trips between the Reston South park-and-ride lot and West Falls Church. By early 2011, Fairfax Connector buses to and from West Falls Church were serving the Reston South lot every 6-8 minutes during the morning and evening peak periods. Finally, when the Reston East lot was permanently closed in 2011, a new temporary park-and-ride lot was opened at the corner of Sunset Hills Road and Town Center Parkway near Reston Town Center, and express rush-hour service from the Sunset Hills lot to West Falls Church (Route 555) was added.4 Parking also was designated at Baron Cameron Park, served by Route 554. However, frequent mid-day service on the Route 505 never was restored. Mid-day service from Reston Town Center to West Falls Church on Sunset Hills Road remains on a reduced schedule with 30-minute headways. Fairfax Connector frequently has raised Connector bus fares. In fact, base fares for Connector buses have more than doubled in the past ten years. Connector fares increased from fifty cents to seventy-five cents in 2003, and increased again to $1.00 in 2004. Fares were steady for several years, but increased to $1.25 if paying by SmarTrip card in January 2009 (base fares increased to $1.35 if paying by cash). Base fares were raised twice in 2010 – first to $1.35, then to $1.50 – and raised again in 2012 to $1.60 (if paid with a SmarTrip card, all cash fares were higher).5 In anticipation of Silver Line rail service to the Dulles Corridor, an advisory citizens group, known as the Reston Metrorail Access Group (RMAG), was appointed by Fairfax County Hunter Mill District Supervisor Catherine Hudgins in 2006 to evaluate the current transportation system and projected needs at Reston’s two future Metrorail stations. The group’s efforts

former 556 route during rush hours. Route 505 rush-hour service continued on the same 30-minute headways (originating at Town Center) using different equipment.
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This Sunset Hills park-and-ride lot is slated to close and related Route 555 bus service will end when Silver Line Phase 1 rail service starts and the Wiehle Station garage opens in December.
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Fares for express Routes 595 and 597 also doubled, from $3.00 to $7.00 each way in 2009, and increased to $7.50

in 2012.

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culminated in an extensive report to the Fairfax County Department of Transportation in April 2008. The county’s Transit Development Plan, issued in December 2009, adopted many of RMAG’s recommendations.6

B.

CURRENT BUS AND RAIL SERVICE
RUSH HOUR SERVICE

Today, several Connector routes transport rush-hour commuters from Reston’s residential neighborhoods to West Falls Church metro. These six feeder routes (551, 552, 553, 554, 557, and 585) pick up and discharge passengers on local streets but run express segments between Reston Parkway or Wiehle Avenue and West Falls Church on the Dulles Toll and Access Roads.7 They provide more than 60 trips during each morning and evening rush.8 Other rush hour routes connect the Reston North, Reston South and the new Sunset Hills park-and-ride lots with Metrorail and close-in Arlington, Virginia. This includes express rush-hour service to West Falls Church, the Pentagon and Crystal City Metro stations. The Sunset Hills express route (Route 555) alone makes 18 trips each morning and evening rush. The Pentagon and Crystal City buses (Routes 595 and 597) connect with the Blue and Yellow lines in Arlington. These two routes, which charge a premium “express fare,” make 11 trips each morning and 12 trips each evening.9 Reverse rush hour commuter service also is provided from West Falls Church to South Reston and businesses along Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road. Reverse Route 551 makes five trips each morning and evening, and Routes 951 and 952 make more than 17 reverse commute trips during each weekday rush period.
6

The RMAG report is available at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/sam_study.htm. The Transit Development Plan is available at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/tdp.htm.
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Route 585 (from Reston South park-and-ride to West Falls Church) often is described as an express bus, but according to the Connector it does make stops to pick up and discharge passengers along Reston Parkway before entering the Dulles Toll Road at Reston Parkway.
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All these Reston buses, with the exception of Route 585, previously served the Reston East park-and-ride lot, site of the future Wiehle Station parking garage. Since the closure of the Reston East lot, they go directly to the Dulles Toll Road ramps. Current Fairfax Connector bus route and schedule information is available at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/routes. The current North Fairfax County System Map is available at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/pdf/northcountysystemmap.pdf.
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Routes 595 and 597 once originated at the Reston East lot, but were shifted to the Reston North lot in 2010 when Reston East was closed.

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WEEKDAYS AND WEEKENDS
In addition to this weekday rush-hour service, Route 505 provides all-day service between Reston Town Center and West Falls Church on both weekdays and weekends. Route 505 buses currently operate between 4:30 a.m. and midnight on weekdays, and make 37 round-trips on weekdays. As noted, mid-day Route 505 buses run every thirty minutes, less frequently than just a few years ago. Hours and frequency are slightly reduced on Saturday and Sundays. In addition, Route 950 provides all-day weekday and weekend service from Reston Town Center to the Herndon-Monroe garage, and then continues to West Falls Church Metro. On weekdays, Route 950 buses run every 15 minutes at rush hour and every 30 minutes during mid-day and evening periods. This service between Herndon-Monroe and West Falls Church is in addition to other Herndon routes that serve that corridor. Indeed, Route 980, the “HerndonMonroe Express,” already provides service every six minutes at peak. Route 950 service is greatly reduced on weekends, with buses running every 2530 minutes. Due to the unusual routing, these buses take longer to reach West Falls Church than Route 505 buses, but run slightly longer hours thus providing an early-morning and latenight alternative for Reston riders.10 Finally, five local Reston Internal Bus Service (RIBS) routes connect Reston’s neighborhoods and the five village centers with Reston Town Center, where riders may transfer to Route 505 buses seven days a week. These RIBS buses run every 30 minutes on weekdays, and every hour on weekends. Three of the RIBS routes (RIBS 1, 2 and 3) currently serve the Wiehle Avenue area, but the two other RIBS routes (RIBS 4 and 5) do not. Weekday and weekend service on the RIBS 4 and 5 routes begins later and ends earlier than the other RIBS routes. As the foregoing discussion indicates, direct all-day service between the Reston Town
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Ridership information from 2008-2009, before the Sunset Hills lot opened and Route 555 rush hour express service from the lot to West Falls Church Metro was started, indicated that Route 950 was the most heavily used route from Town Center to West Falls Church despite its longer route (traveling west from Town Center to the Herndon-Monroe garage before going to West Falls Church Metro). Route 950 had more weekday boardings, and longer early-morning and late-night hours than Route 505 buses. Ridership patterns, however, likely changed with the closure of the Reston East lot and opening of the Sunset Hills lot and start of Route 555 express rush-hour service. Prior ridership information for Route 950, therefore, may be out of date. Two cross-county bus routes (Routes 574 and 605) connect Reston Town Center with the Fair Oaks and Tysons areas. No changes are proposed for these routes, and they are not the subject of this paper.

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Center Transit Station and the Wiehle Avenue area on Sunset Hills Road currently is limited to a single route, Route 505. It takes approximately ten minutes for buses to travel the distance of approximately a mile and a half. While RIBS 1, 2 and 3 serve both Reston Town Center and the Wiehle Avenue area, those buses take long, circuitous routes, and the travel time to Wiehle is much longer (up to 2428 minutes on RIBS 1 and 3, respectively, and up to 43 minutes on RIBS 2).

BUS AND METRORAIL FARES
Regular Connector bus fares now are $1.60 with a SmarTrip card and $1.80 paying cash regardless of distance. Riders transferring from rail to bus at West Falls Church receive a $0.50 discount when using a SmarTrip card. Fares for Route 595 and 597 express buses to the Pentagon and Crystal City are $7.50 each way. There is no discount for riders transferring from Metrorail to the 595 and 597 buses.11 Metrorail fares from West Falls Church to other points are based on distance, and are lower during non-peak periods. Rail fares currently are capped at $5.35 per trip.

C.

FAIRFAX COUNTY’S PROPOSED CHANGES FOR SILVER LINE “PHASE 1” BUS SERVICE

When Silver Line Phase 1 service opens in December, transportation in the TysonsReston-Herndon corridor will change dramatically. Five new Metro stations will open in Fairfax County – four in Tysons and one at Wiehle Avenue in Reston. These openings will double the number of Metro stations in the county from five to ten. Bus service along the Silver Line corridor will also change significantly as WMATA and Fairfax Connector routes are modified to connect to the new Metro stations.12

TYSONS SERVICE CHANGES
In the Tysons area, two Fairfax Connector routes serving Tysons will be eliminated (Routes 425 and 427), but six new Tysons feeder routes will be created (Routes 432, 434, 461,
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Transfers between local Connector buses are free for SmarTrip users if made within two hours.

Information regarding the proposed routes and frequencies for Connector Phase 1 bus service is available at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/routes/dullesrail/. A table listing all current and proposed Connector routes in the Phase 1 service area is attached to this report.

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720, 721 and 722). These routes will bring commuters to the four new Tysons metro stations. In addition, Tysons will receive four new local circulator routes (SLC1 through SLC4), to provide high-frequency service around the new Tysons Metro stations. These routes will serve the Tysons stations every 10 minutes during peak periods and every 20-30 minutes during offpeak periods. One route also will operate on weekends. While all other “Phase 1” service changes will be financed by shifting Connector resources – the proposed changes are described as “revenue neutral” – the four Tysons circulator buses will be financed by new county funds. The Tysons Circulator routes are the only proposed Connector service improvements in the corridor which will be financed in this manner.

RESTON SERVICE CHANGES
Routes in Reston also will change. Unlike Tysons, however, Reston will lose more routes than it gains. In fact, at least four Connector routes in Reston will be eliminated (Routes 505, 555, 595 and 597, and possibly Routes 951, 952), and only one new Reston route will be created, the new Sunset Hills Circulator (Route 959). Many other Reston bus routes will be modified, with changes to routes, frequency and cost to commuters. 13

F EEDER B USES TO W IEHLE S TATION
Once the Silver Line opens to Wiehle Station, the current Fairfax Connector bus routes on the Dulles Toll and Access Roads would parallel the Silver Line tracks. This will result in some redundancy and the county planners want to encourage ridership on the train. Under the county’s current proposal for Phase 1 bus service, all twelve Fairfax Connector routes that connect Reston to the West Falls Church Metro using the Toll Road would be rerouted to the Wiehle Station, where they would terminate. Thus, all Reston commuters to East Falls Church and beyond would be required to transfer to Silver Line trains at Wiehle Station.14 This change alone would eliminate more than 660 weekday and weekend trips between the Wiehle Avenue station area and West Falls Church, thus leading to

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The county’s proposed plans are based largely upon the December 2009 “Transit Development Plan,” but with some modifications. The Transit Development Plan, for example, proposed elimination of Route 551 and the extension of RIBS 4 to the new Wiehle Station, but neither of these changes was incorporated in the county’s current proposals for Phase 1 bus service.
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The Silver Line will converge with the Orange Line at the East Falls Church Metro station, not the West Falls Church station. Therefore, Silver Line passengers bound for West Falls Church Metro will need to back-track on the Orange Line.

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substantial cost savings for the county.15 Under the current proposals, the two express bus routes that now bypass West Falls Church and go directly to the Pentagon and Crystal City Metro stations (Routes 595, 597) also would be eliminated. Thus, commuters to those destinations would have to use the Silver line, and then transfer to Blue Line trains at the Rosslyn Station. The wait between trains is projected to be up to ten minutes, but the December 2012 Silver Line Operating Plan suggests that Blue Line Trains would serve Rosslyn station every 12 minutes. Users also might need to use local buses between the Crystal City Metro station and their ultimate local destinations. Dropping these two express routes would eliminate 23 trips between the Wiehle Avenue station area and these close-in Arlington locations.

RESTON TOWN CENTER-SUNSET HILLS-WIEHLE STATION SERVICE
In addition to these feeder and express routes, other Reston bus routes and services would be modified or curtailed. Significantly, the Sunset Hills park-and-ride lot will close, and Connector Routes 505 and 555 to West Falls Church Metro would end. These express and local Connector services would be replaced by the new Route 959 to Wiehle Station. At least some reverse commute rush-hour service provided by Routes 951 and 952 could be eliminated, at least under one scenario. The county has proposed two options for service on the new Route 959. The first option (Option 1), initially proposed in the county’s 2009 Transit Development Plan and posted on the Connector’s Silver Line “Phase 1” service web site in January 2013, is a large loop from Centerville Road to Hunter Mill Road utilizing Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road. The direction of service is not specified but, according to Connector staff, likely is clockwise to maximize right turns at intersections. The route map suggests that buses would only approach Wiehle Station from Sunset Hills. Under this option, Routes 951 and 952, which currently provide reverse commuter service from West Falls Church Metro to Sunrise Valley and Sunset Hills and thus would be duplicative, would be eliminated. The county’s current proposal specifies that the new 959 buses on this route would run every 30 minutes on weekdays and every 60 minutes on weekends.16

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Like the Reston buses, all existing Herndon buses that run to West Falls Church Metro will terminate at the new Wiehle Station. Other Herndon commuter buses that now terminate at the Herndon-Monroe parking garage will be extended to Wiehle Station.
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The 2009 Transit Development Plan proposed more frequent service on this Route 959 than the county’s current Phase 1 proposal, with buses every 15 minutes during weekday peak periods and every 30 minutes during off-peak and weekend periods. During the recent public meetings, Connector staff acknowledged that buses on this proposed route would

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The second option for Route 959 would be a much shorter route. This alternative (Option 2) would circulate between Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station and provide local shuttle service on Sunset Hills Road on weekdays and weekends. During peak periods, the route also would be extended east from Wiehle Station to Hunter Mill Road via Sunrise Valley and Sunset Hills. The county’s initial proposal for Silver Line Phase 1 bus service specified that the new Route 959 buses would run on this shorter route every 30 minutes on weekdays and every 60 minutes on weekends. During the recent public meetings, however, this proposed service was increased to every 20 minutes during rush hours and 15 minutes at all other times.17 During the recent public meeting on the proposed bus changes, Connector staff also suggested that when combined with service on the Dulles Airport Express (Route 981) buses would run every 10 minutes between Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station. Route 981, added in June 2012, currently makes 88 single trips (equivalent to 44 round-trips) each weekday between the airport and the Tysons West Park Transit Station, with stops at the Herndon-Monroe garage and Reston Town Center. Buses run approximately every 25 minutes. On weekdays, service is provided between 6:00 a.m. and midnight. Reduced service is provided on weekends: 21 round-trips on Saturdays and 10 round-trips on Sundays. Route 981 is one of the routes that the county proposes to reroute to the Wiehle Station, where it would terminate.18 Between Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station, Route 981 would use the Dulles Toll Road. Thus, while it would provide express service between these two points, it would not increase service on Sunset Hills Road. The county also charges a much higher “regional express fare” on Route 981 of $5.35 each way. This is more than triple the current base fare on Connector buses.19 County planning staff is aware of the

be unable to keep on fixed schedules due to congestion on Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road, thus possibly explaining the scheduling change.
17

The PowerPoint presentation from the Connector’s public meetings regarding the Silver Line “Phase 1” service changes is available at http://www.slideshare.net/fairfaxcounty/silver-linebusserviceplan. The county’s web site now also has been updated to reflect this change.
18

Route 981 currently makes more than 500 total trips each week between Dulles Airport, Reston Town Center and the Tysons West Park Transit Station. Like shortening the current routes to West Falls Church Metro discussed above, shortening these Route 981 trips to terminate at Wiehle Station also would lead to substantial cost savings.
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Route 981 fares are the same during both peak (rush-hour) and non-peak hours. Riders transferring from local Connector buses to the Dulles Airport 981 express bus receive $1.60 discounts, and riders transferring from Metrorail to bus receive a $0.50 discount when using a SmarTrip card (cash fares are unchanged).

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disparity, which likely would discourage use of Route 981 buses by local riders, but have not provided a solution to date.

INCREASED COST FOR COMMUTERS
Requiring commuters to transfer to Metrorail at Wiehle Station will increase costs for many Reston residents, as riders would pay both the existing Fairfax Connector bus fares plus a new or higher Metrorail fare.20 For example, the cost to travel by bus and rail from Reston homes to West Falls Church Metro during rush-hours would increase from $1.60 (Connector base fare) to at least $3.70 if paid by SmarTrip card ($1.60 Connector base fare plus $2.10 Metrorail minimum fare).21 Similarly, combined bus and rail morning rush-hour fares to Metro Center in Washington, D.C. would increase from $5.55 to $7.35 one-way. Round-trip fares would increase from $10.60 to $14.20/day (including the fifty cent discount for transfers from rail train to bus). This would be a $3.60/day increase, or $18.00/week. While some employers provide a transit subsidy to workers which could cushion the blow, this would be a significant increase for employees without that benefit. Parking at the Wiehle Station garage also will be costly for those who drive and park at the station rather than use a local bus, estimated to cost between $4.50 and $4.75 per day (the current rate at other area Metrorail garages and surface lots. This would add approximately two dollars to the daily cost of using the station.

20

As noted, Fairfax Connector bus fares currently range from $1.60-$1.80 (SmartTrip card vs. cash), but are $0.50 less when transferring from Metrorail to Connector bus using a SmartTrip card. The current minimum fare on Metrorail is $2.10.
21

The Connector fare would be higher if paying by cash. In addition, Metrorail imposes a $1.00 surcharge if a paper farecard is used.

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RCA Reston 2020 Committee

DISCUSSION
When Wiehle Station opens in December, local Fairfax Connector bus service will change, directing most local commuter buses to the station area, which is already congested. Frequent, reliable, affordable and easy to use bus service to the station therefore will be crucial. All Fairfax Connector buses that currently go to the West Falls Church, Pentagon and Crystal City Metro stations will be diverted to the new Wiehle Station. In addition, Herndon buses that terminate at the Herndon-Monroe parking garage will be extended to Wiehle, and many Loudoun County Transit buses may stop at the new station. With the addition of the new Wiehle parking garage, several thousand additional cars and buses will use the station during morning and evening rush hours. Local streets near the station are narrow, most just four lanes, and there already are long traffic delays on Wiehle Avenue during the peak periods. Very few of the highway improvements recommended in prior studies to improve station access have been built, particularly the Soapstone crossing over the Dulles Toll Road which has not been designed yet, let alone funded.22 Parking at the new station also may be difficult, even potentially unavailable during portions of the day. While the new 2,300 space public parking garage might help those who arrive very early, some observers fear the new garage may fill up early in the morning, thus preventing late-arrivals (even at morning rush hour) from parking at the station. At a minimum, entering and exiting the garage may take a very long time due to the limited number of entrances and exits, and the large number of intersections and traffic signals in the immediate station area.23

22

Possible alignments for the Soapstone crossing currently are undergoing feasibility studies.

Reston Citizens Association recently issued a report discussing station access issues. “Wiehle Metro Station Access: Congestion Ahead” (Reston Citizens Association Feb. 4, 2013), available at http://www.reston2020.blogspot.com/2013/02/rca-white-paper-wiehle-metro-station.html.
23

Other than a few hundred spaces at the nearby Reston North park-and-ride lot (which likely will fill first because that surface lot will be free), currently there is no other available public parking in the immediate station area. Many private garages and lots near the future station already take steps to prevent commuter parking, and street parking within walking distance is virtually nonexistent. Thus, even if there were no traffic delays and cars could reach the garage easily, driving and parking at the Wiehle garage may not be an option during the late morning-rush and mid-day periods if the Wiehle garage is full.

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RCA Reston 2020 Committee

Wiehle Station will be the terminus of the Silver Line until the Reston Town Center and Herndon-Monroe stations are built. Unless construction of those two stations is accelerated and they open early, as some have suggested, Wiehle Station will be the Silver Line terminus for at least five years, until 2018. Most of the major necessary infrastructure improvements that would reduce traffic congestion are unlikely to be completed even within this five-year time frame. Thus, traffic around the station likely will be very heavy and congested throughout the entire Phase 1 service period. Public transit to Wiehle Station therefore will be essential to reduce traffic in the area, encourage use of public transit, and provide station access to those who cannot drive and park at the station. Fairfax Connector bus service in Reston must be significantly increased during all times of the day, even beyond the levels now proposed by the county. The “opportunity” to commute by bus to the Wiehle Station is as important as actual ridership. Fairfax Connector must provide frequent regularly-scheduled local bus service to the station throughout the entire day, but especially during mid-day and weekday evening periods, so riders can be confident that they can reach the station and complete their trips in a convenient, timely manner. This is particularly important for Metrorail riders who must return to Reston during offpeak periods. For example, parents who need to return home or go to their child’s school unexpectedly might be reluctant to take a rush-hour bus to work if they are not confident there would be frequent return service during the day if needed. Similarly, riders who must work late unexpectedly (or who are simply delayed on Metrorail, as sometimes occurs) must be confident that there will be local transportation when they arrive at Wiehle Station. In April 2008, before local bus service was dramatically reduced on several routes, the Reston Metrorail Access Group study recommended “substantial” changes, including “more and better transit service.” Many of these recommendations were incorporated into the county’s 2009 Transit Development Plan. These recommendations generally are sound, and should be implemented. Fairfax County’s current proposals for Silver Line Phase 1 bus service incorporate many of these recommendations from the RMAG study and the Transit Development Plan. The proposed expansion of Fairfax Connector bus service reportedly would be the largest since the Springfield Metro station opened in 1997, and the current service proposals, as modified and explained during the recent public meetings, reflect much thoughtful analysis. Plans for the Tysons area are first-rate, particularly the creation of a new high-frequency
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RCA Reston 2020 Committee

circulator system of four routes serving the areas immediately around the four new Tysons Metrorail stations. The county also should be congratulated for finding new funding for these four routes. As discussed below, local bus service in Reston must be restored to pre-2009 levels, as now recommended by the county. In addition, routes, frequency and hours of service should be expanded beyond these levels to maximize access to Wiehle Station and reduce private vehicle traffic until additional Silver Line stations open. The county’s current proposals are a step in the right direction, but must be taken further. The county also should reconsider its proposal to discontinue all bus service along the Toll Road east of Wiehle. At a minimum, the county should retain at least some express rush-hour bus service from Wiehle to the Pentagon and Crystal City Metro stations.

SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS FOR “PHASE 1” BUS SERVICE
A. FEEDER BUS SERVICE (ROUTES 551-554, 557, 585)
The county has proposed doubling rush-hour service on six feeder bus routes between Reston’s residential neighborhoods, the Reston South park-and-ride lot and Wiehle Station (Routes 551, 552, 553, 554, 557 and 585) by reducing headways from 30 to 15 minutes. This increase in frequency is essential for successful Silver Line Phase 1 service, and must be implemented. If possible, the frequency of service on these rush-hour routes should be further increased. Headways should be reduced to 10 minutes or less to maximize commuter use of public transit and reduce the number of private vehicles driving to the station during peak periods. Reducing headways to 10 minutes would make this service to Wiehle Station similar to service in the Tysons area, where the new high-frequency circulator buses already are proposed to serve the Tysons Metro stations every 10 minutes during peak periods.

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RCA Reston 2020 Committee

B. RESTON TOWN CENTER-SUNSET HILLS-WIEHLE STATION CIRCULATOR SERVICE (NEW ROUTE 959)
Proposed new Route 959 would replace current Route 505 service between Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station, and operate on weekdays and weekends. The county has proposed two different routings, but the county’s preferred route appears to be the second option that runs back-and-forth between Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station on Sunset Hills Road (with service extended east to Hunter Mill Road during peak periods). 24 The proposed frequency for this new route (“Option 2”) would be 20 minutes during rush hours, and 15 minutes during other times on weekdays and on weekends. This option, which provides direct two-way all-day shuttle service on Sunset Hills Road, should be selected. The proposed frequency for this Route 959 service, however, is inadequate. The proposed 20-minute headway during rush hours is only slightly better than the 30-minute rush-hour service provided between Town Center and the Wiehle area (Reston East) on Sunset Hills prior to 2009, and the 15-minute headway during mid-day periods merely equals the mid-day service on this segment prior to 2009. Reston Town Center is Reston’s “downtown,” and more frequent shuttle service from Town Center to Wiehle Station is necessary. Ideally, service on this route during rush hours (limited to areas east of Town Center) should equal the frequency of service from the Reston South park-and-ride lot (every 6-8 minutes) and from the Herndon-Monroe parking garage (every 6 minutes) at peak.25 Connector planning staff has suggested that, when combined with service on the Dulles Airport Express (Route 981) launched in 2012, buses would run between Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station every 10 minutes. The Dulles Airport Express (Route 981) runs express between Reston Town Center and Wiehle using the Dulles Toll lanes. While express service might be preferable for some passengers, at least when Toll Road traffic moves faster than local roads, it would not provide any service along Sunset Hill Road. The Dulles Airport Express also charges a premium express fare of $5.35, more than triple the current base fare for Fairfax
24

Under this option, reverse commuter service to other portions of Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills would be provided by existing Routes 951 and 952, which would be retained but likely modified.
25

Indeed, the RMAG report projected that Route 959 (then proposed to span from Centreville Road to Hunter Mill Road) would have the “highest ridership” of any Reston route, primarily serving destinations along Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Road, adding that “if ridership on Route 959 is greater than the projections estimate, increased frequency along the route may be necessary in order to avoid overcrowding.”

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RCA Reston 2020 Committee

Connector buses, and therefore would be cost prohibitive for most local commuters traveling this short distance. Thus, the Dulles Airport Express (Route 981) is not a substitute for increasing frequency on new Route 959. If use of this additional route is necessary to provide more frequent service, the fare for passengers traveling between Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station should be the same as base fares in Reston. Frequency on new Route 959 could be increased by adding buses on the route, or extending or rerouting other buses to serve Reston Town Center. Until 2009, Route 556 ran from North Reston to Town Center when it became a Route 505 bus to the Wiehle Reston East park-and-ride lot (and ultimately West Falls Church Metro). The 2009 Transit Development Plan proposed extending the current RIBS 4 route to Wiehle Station in the same manner, but this extension was not included in the county’s recent proposals. One way to increase service along Sunset Hills Road would be to implement this recommendation. This would provide direct service for North Point riders to the Wiehle Station without transferring at Reston Town Center, and provide parity with the three other RIBS routes which will directly service the Metro station.26 To the extent that service between Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station is provided by more than one bus route (e.g. Routes 959, 981 and RIBS 4), the buses must be clearly marked and perhaps even use the same bus stop for boarding so that passengers can easily identify the next bus to their destination (and can form a single line).

C. EXPRESS BUS SERVICE TO THE PENTAGON AND CRYSTAL CITY (ROUTES 595, 597)
Currently, Fairfax Connector Routes 595 and 597 provide express rush-service service between the Reston North park-and-ride lot and the Pentagon and Crystal City Metro stations. Together, these buses make 23 trips each weekday. The county’s proposal would eliminate both express routes, and require passengers to use Silver Line rail from Wiehle Station to Rosslyn, and then transfer to a Blue Line train to the Pentagon and Crystal City stations. Silver Line rail fares are not yet available, but the total rail
26

Alternatively, rush-hour service from Reston Town Center and along Sunset Hills Road could be improved by rerouting Herndon Routes 924 and 926 to include stops at the Reston Town Center Transit Station. Currently, proposed Option 2 for both routes includes eastbound service along Spring Street and Sunset Hills Road to Wiehle Station. Only minor modifications would be necessary to add a stop at Reston Town Center. In fact, it would make sense to select one of the two bus routes to serve Town Center in the morning, and reverse the service on the same route in the evening, also with a stop at Town Center. This would provide service between Town Center to Wiehle Station on Sunset Hills in both rush-hour directions.

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RCA Reston 2020 Committee

fare likely would be less than the $7.50 fare on Routes 595 and 597, at least initially, because Metrorail fares currently are capped at $5.75 per trip. Fairfax Connector’s desire to shift local buses to other Connector routes is understandable, but as the 2009 Transit Development Plan (TDP) recognized these routes are “popular” and have a “farebox recovery rate that is far above the system average.” Elimination of Routes 595 and 597 would have a serious negative impact upon current riders on these routes since it would require a rail transfer at Rosslyn Station. In addition, as the TDP, the vast majority of these transit riders—84% or more—are riders by choice, that is, they have a vehicle at home they could use to make the same commute. Thus, many of them are likely to leave public transit and return to their personal vehicles for their daily commute on Fairfax's clogged roadways rather than use an inconvenient Metrorail connection. In anticipation of Silver Line service, the number of Blue Line trains serving Rosslyn will be cut to reduce congestion in the Rosslyn tunnels. Consequently, Blue Line trains will only run between Rosslyn and the Pentagon and Crystal City stations every 10-12 minutes during morning rush hours, significantly less frequently than peak rail service on other lines (typically every 6-8 minutes). Of course, the wait for an outbound Blue Line train at Rosslyn could be longer than 10-12 minutes if there are any delays on the shared Silver, Orange and Blue Line tracks between the Stadium-Armory and Rosslyn stations. In addition, many of these Reston bus riders will need to make a second transfer at either the Pentagon or Crystal City station to reach their place of work. Current Route 595 and 597 bus service offers a level of comfort, convenience and reliability that will be lost if riders must use Metrorail instead. We note that it does not appear that Fairfax Connector staff have explored the option of reverse direction commuter bus service on the 595/597 from the Pentagon and Crystal City areas. Indeed, a growing number of people in the Washington area live in or close to the city and commute outward to jobs on the periphery. In our view, such a bus route could pick up passengers at these two locations and deliver them to one or two bus stops at Metrorail stations (where they could connect with Tysons extensive circulator system if needed) and then at the line’s origination point at Wiehle Metrorail station in the morning, reversing that process in the evening. In short, the lines could provide Restonians express bus service to the Pentagon/Crystal City area and semi-express service to residents of those areas to Tysons and Reston. We expect such a route would need to be coordinated with staff counterparts in Arlington and at WMATA and that may take time. Nonetheless, we believe the County staff should explore this opportunity before deciding to cut the 595 and 597 routes.

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RCA Reston 2020 Committee

The possibility of an initial lower fare using Metrorail to the Pentagon and Crystal City Metro stations could weigh in favor of using rail rather than bus, but of course Metrorail fares can be raised at any time. WMATA also could significantly increase or even eliminate the current cap on fares for a single rail trip, thus eliminating any potential cost savings for passengers or even making rail more expensive than the current bus fare on Routes 595 and 597. Bus service to the Pentagon and Crystal City Metro stations therefore should be continued during Phase 1 to provide express bus service to these destinations. Other transit systems serving the Dulles Corridor at least considered retaining express bus service to close-in Washington, D.C. locations. For example, Loudoun County’s 2010 Countywide Transportation Plan and 2011 Transit Development Plan both proposed continuing express bus service into Washington, D.C., even after the opening of Silver Line Phase 2 service (then projected for FY 2017). Under those plans, Loudoun County Transit buses would run “at reduced service levels, and with fares that offset operations and maintenance costs.” 27 Like Loudoun County Transit, service on Fairfax Connector Routes 595 and 597 should be retained, at least on a smaller scale for those commuters who prefer riding a single express bus over Metrorail with rail transfers and possible delays at Rosslyn. Ridership could be monitored after the Silver Line opens, and service and fares adjusted as necessary.28

D.

EXTENDED PEAK SERVICE HOURS

Under the Fairfax Connector’s current Phase 1 service proposals, all service on the feeder bus routes (except for Route 585) would be limited to current peak hours. Thus, Metrorail users would have few transit options for travel to and from Wiehle Station after peak Connector bus service ends in the morning and evening. Even those with cars could have difficulty using Wiehle Station if public parking is not available in the new Wiehle garage. Rush hour bus service on these feeder routes therefore should be extended into the mid-day and early evening hours, at least an hour or two.

27

WMATA reportedly plans to continue express service on Metrobus Route 5A. The Dulles Flyer, however, reportedly will terminate its Dulles Airport express buses at the Wiehle Station.
28

It is noteworthy that, according to the December 2009 Transit Development Report, when fares on Routes 595 and 597 were raised in June 2009 from $3.00 to $7.00 each way, early ridership figures indicated a “relatively small loss in ridership, and nearly break-even performance for the routes.” While fare increases above today’s $7.50 fare obviously should be avoided if possible, small additional increases might cover costs without negatively impacting ridership on these two routes.

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RCA Reston 2020 Committee

The proposed new Sunset Hills Circulator (new Route 959), which replaces current Route 505, would continue to connect Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station every 15 minutes during mid-day and evening periods (service could be even more frequent with additional buses, or if other routes are added and synchronized), and the modified Route 950 would provide indirect service from Town Center to Wiehle Station (via the Herndon-Monroe garage), but most local rush hour feeder service would abruptly end. Under the county’s current proposals, the only public transit option from most residential areas to either Reston Town Center or Wiehle Station during mid-day periods and early evening periods would be the local RIBS service. This would be a slow, inconvenient method to reach Metrorail. 29 Potential Metrorail riders will need more frequent, reliable options to travel to and from the Wiehle Station during off-peak periods. This is particularly true for parents and other caregivers who must return to school or home on short notice during the business day, and for employees who must work late unexpectedly (or are delayed) and thus need safe, convenient transit options for returning home after the evening rush hour. Frequent service on all the Fairfax Connector rush-hour feeder routes in Reston (Routes 551-554, 557) therefore should be expanded to include the hours immediately following the morning and afternoon peak periods. At a minimum, these Connector buses should continue to run more frequently for at least an hour or two beyond current peak periods. If possible, service throughout the entire mid-day period should be increased on all Reston feeder and circulator routes.

E.

NEW MID-DAY ROUTES

During the Fairfax Connector’s February 21, 2013 presentation to several Reston Association advisory committees, Connector staff mentioned creating new mid-day routes connecting Reston residential areas, village centers and satellite parking areas to Wiehle Station. These new routes could combine segments of current feeder routes. This is a great idea, and should be pursued. Several new routes have been proposed for the Tysons area, including four new high-frequency local circulator routes to be financed from newly-identified funds, but very few new routes have been proposed for the Reston area. To the extent that funds

29

As discussed below, current RIBS service is not a good option for many. New mid-day routes also should be created, and RIBS bus service should be improved.

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RCA Reston 2020 Committee

are unavailable for new Reston routes, additional funding should be sought from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

F.

EXPANDED RIBS BUS SERVICE

No changes currently are proposed to the existing RIBS bus service in Reston, not even the extension of the RIBS 4 route previously recommended in the 2008 RMAG report and the 2009 Transit Development Plan. This and several other changes discussed below would improve RIBS service and, more importantly, provide additional public transit options to the Wiehle Station during off-peak hours and on weekends. The Reston Internal Bus Service (RIBS) is a relatively low-frequency local circulator bus service for Reston residents and workers, some of whom are dependent upon public transportation – including seniors, persons with disabilities, and lower-income individuals and families. Many others, including local civic leaders, who simply prefer the convenience and low cost of public transit over driving also ride RIBS buses. The RIBS buses could provide another important alternative for reaching the Wiehle Station Metrorail station during Silver Line Phase 1 service. RIBS buses connect most of the major Reston commercial, employment and higherdensity residential areas – including the five village centers – with Reston Town Center, where RIBS riders can transfer to express and local buses to West Falls Church Metro. All five RIBS routes start and end at the Reston Town Center Transit Center. The buses leave Town Center every hour, on the hour, but some RIBS buses with shorter routes leave Town Center on the half hour too. RIBS buses generally provide less frequent service than other Reston routes, currently running every 30-60 minutes on weekdays and every 60 minutes on weekends. RIBS 1 and 3 serve the same route spanning North and South Reston, but traveling in opposite directions. RIBS 2 takes a similar circular route, but only in one direction, clockwise. RIBS 4 and 5 buses travel from Town Center to their respective destinations, North Point Village Center and central Herndon, and then reverse their respective route using many of the same streets. Thus, there are not long passenger trips on these two RIBS routes.30

30

Currently, none of the RIBS routes serve the Reston South park-and-ride lot, but RIBS 2 does serve the HerndonMonroe garage.

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RCA Reston 2020 Committee

Three of the five RIBS Routes (RIBS 1, 2 and 3) will provide direct service to Wiehle Station, but as previously noted they will take long circuitous routes to and from Reston Town Center to the station. Passengers on RIBS 1 and 3 routes can chose a bus in the travel direction that provides the shortest trip, but some RIBS 2 trips might take nearly an hour to reach Metrorail because the buses must travel nearly the entire RIBS 2 route to reach Wiehle Station. In contrast, RIBS 4 and 5 buses will not serve Wiehle Station at all, thus requiring a transfer to the Sunset Hills Circulator (proposed Route 959) at the outdoor Reston Town Center Transit Station. This would be very inconvenient, requiring RIBS 4 and 5 riders to take two buses to reach Wiehle Station, which could discourage riders bound for Metrorail. The transfers at Town Center also could be difficult for seniors, disabled passengers and families with children, and would be uncomfortable for all passengers in bad weather. At a minimum, additional service should be added on the RIBS 2 route (currently oneway) to provide service in the opposite direction to speed travel from South Reston to Wiehle Station (similar to current bi-directional RIBS 1 and 3 routes), as recommended in the 2008 RMAG study. In addition, the Fairfax Connector should extend the RIBS 4 route from Reston Town Center to Wiehle Station, as previously proposed in both the 2008 RMAG study and the 2009 Transit Development Plan, to provide direct service (no transfer necessary) for North Reston riders to Metrorail, like most other RIBS routes. This would also provide additional all-day, every-day service between Reston Town Center and Wiehle Station along Sunset Hills Road. Although not recommended in the county’s Plan, RIBS 5 also could also be extended to the station. The current hours of service for RIBS 4 and 5 are less than those on the three other RIBS routes. The Connector should expand weekday evening and Saturday hours of service on RIBS 4 and 5 routes to match those on RIBS 1, 2 and 3 routes.
31

Finally, the Fairfax Connector should Increase off-peak weekday service on all RIBS buses to provide additional mid-day and evening connections with Wiehle Station. If possible, RIBS headways also should be reduced to 15-20 minutes.

31

Weekday morning service on RIBS 4 and 5 begins between 5:11 and 5:15 a.m., more than an hour after service on RIBS 1-3 (6:11 and 6:25 a.m.). Weekday evening service on RIBS 4 and 5 ends two hours before service on RIBS 1-3 (between 10:05 and 10:10 p.m. versus 11:48 p.m. and 12:05 a.m.). Saturday evening service on RIBS 4 and 5 ends one hour earlier than the RIBS 1-3 (between 9:35 and 10:05 p.m. versus 11:10 to 11:13 p.m.). Sunday hours on all RIBS routes are similar.

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RCA Reston 2020 Committee

G. SERVICE COORDINATION BETWEEN METRORAIL AND LOCAL CONNECTOR BUSES
Metrorail service extends from early morning to late evenings, currently until midnight on most nights, but until 3:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Additional hours of rail service sometimes are added for holidays and special events in the region. Fairfax Connector hours of service hours should be extended to meet the first trains regularly scheduled to arrive and depart at Wiehle Station, and the last trains at night (or post-midnight hours). For morning service, this should include all routes that serve Wiehle Station, including all RIBS circulator routes. At night, service on routes that provide late-night service (primarily Routes 950 and 959) should be extended to meet the last regularly-scheduled Metrorail train. Before the 2009 cutbacks, these routes ran very late, reportedly until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. on weekends, so this would not be a big change. Similarly, nighttime schedules for RIBS routes also should be extended to at least midnight, and later if possible. During peak rail service, Metrorail trains will serve Wiehle Station every 6-7 minutes, and wait times for trains will be relatively short. During off-peak rail service, however, there will be longer headways between trains and longer wait times at the station. During these off-peak periods and on weekends, bus schedules therefore should be coordinated to match arrivals and departures of Metrorail trains, to minimize passenger wait time at Wiehle Station. Electronic information signs or computer displays should be installed at all indoor and outdoor Wiehle Station bus bays to provide up-to-date arrival and departure information regarding the trains and buses. Fairfax Connector should acquire and install GPS devices on all Connector buses to provide real-time bus service information, and link this information to the displays. In addition, this information should be readily accessible to bus passengers both on-line and through Smartphone applications developed or utilized by the Connector.

H. ADDITIONAL REMOTE PARKING AND PICK-UP LOCATIONS ON CONNECTOR ROUTES
Reston has several satellite park-and-ride lots with direct commuter bus service to Metrorail. For example, the “Reston North” park-and-ride lot (northwest corner of Sunset Hills Road and Wiehle Avenue) currently provides approximately 340 parking spaces. The “Reston
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RCA Reston 2020 Committee

South” lot (northeast corner of Reston Parkway and Lawyers Road) provides 412 spaces. The former “Reston East” park-and-ride lot (site of the future Wiehle Station and garage) provided an additional 820 spaces.32 When the Reston East lot closed permanently in 2011 for construction of the Wiehle Station and garage, a new temporary 600-space “Sunset Hills” park-and-ride lot was opened (at the corner of Sunset Hills Road and Town Center Parkway). This satellite lot is heavily used, largely because the lot offers all-day bus service directly to the West Falls Church Metro station, there is easy highway access to the lot, and parking spaces always are available, even mid-day. The availability of parking at the Sunset Hills lot is particularly significant because the Reston North and former Reston East lots often filled to capacity during morning rush hours, and late-arrivals were turned away. Unfortunately, the Sunset Hills lot will close when the new Wiehle Station opens in December. The new Wiehle garage will provide 2,300 new spaces, more than the existing Sunset Hills lot, but some riders who use the Sunset Hills lot may be unwilling to drive to Wiehle Station, particularly if they there are significant traffic delays. Drivers also might be unwilling to pay to park in the Wiehle garage, and both the garage and nearby Reston North lot might fill to capacity on weekdays due to high demand. Thus, Metrorail riders will need other parking alternatives. The best option would be for Fairfax County to negotiate an extension of the Sunset Hills lot until the property owner is ready to redevelop the site, and to continue to provide bus service from that lot to Metrorail (now the new Wiehle Station). This could postpone the disruption from the closure of the lot, and allow a more gradual transition for Metrorail users. Alternatively, the county should buy or lease additional satellite park-and-ride lots, or designate existing county-controlled parking areas within short walking distance of peak and off-peak bus routes and publicize them as potential parking and transit pick-up points. The county has already done this once in Reston, when it publicly identified an existing 50space parking lot at Baron Cameron Park as possible commuter parking and encouraged users to ride Route 554 rush-hour buses, which stop nearby. Adding similar sites elsewhere would provide additional satellite parking capacity, and help reduce traffic around the Wiehle Station.

32

The Herndon-Monroe garage provides 1,200 spaces, and will double in size before Silver Line Phase 2 service begins, but the Herndon-Monroe garage is not convenient for many Reston riders.

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RCA Reston 2020 Committee

The county’s Transit Development Plan already has identified two possible park-and-ride locations that could be used for this purpose – North Reston near Reston Parkway at Center Harbor, and North Herndon near Herndon Parkway at Dranesville Road. Both are described as small sites with 50 spaces or less. Although identified in the 2009 TDP, those two sites were not developed at that time. The North Reston location, near the North Point Village Center, is served by Route 554 during peak periods and RIBS 4 buses during off-peak hours. Undoubtedly, there are many other sites, including county-owned and maintained public streets with available on-street parking that could be utilized until Phase 2 rail service begins and access to the Wiehle Station become less of an issue.33

I.

BUS STOP IMPROVEMENTS

At the six public meetings, there were numerous requests for improvements to bus stops along Fairfax Connector bus routes to increase safety, utility, accessibility and passenger comfort. These requests included new or improved permanent lighting to increase visibility (particularly during winter months), installing or replacing sidewalks, steps and platforms for better access and easier boarding, and adding permanent bus shelters. These improvements would increase safety, and probably increase commuter satisfaction and ridership, and therefore should be implemented to the extent possible. Each bus stop should have signage showing the bus routes served, and current route maps and daily schedule information for each route. The Fairfax Connector also should develop a Smartphone application to provide up-to-date bus schedules and realtime performance information to passengers waiting at bus stops.

J.

CONTINUOUS PLANNING AND REVIEW

The opening of Reston’s Wiehle Station may create significant, unanticipated changes in commuting patterns and ridership levels. County officials and Fairfax Connector staff should closely monitor service and ridership after Phase 1 bus service begins, and be prepared to quickly adjust routes and schedules if necessary.
33

Before creating new park-and-ride lots or designating on-street parking and pick-up areas in residential neighborhoods, the county should provide an opportunity for public comment and coordination with nearby neighborhood organizations and property owners to resolve any potential issues (including creation of residential parking districts, when requested). Even without new park-and-ride lots or designated pick-up areas, expansion of bus service may lead to parking issues in areas where residential parking districts are not yet authorized. The county should consider any necessary legal actions (including Board of Supervisor action) to permit creation of new residential parking districts in these areas.

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Rail service disruptions are inevitable, and Connector officials also should prepare contingency plans for “bridge” and other supplemental or back-up bus service, both along the Silver Line and possibly to Orange and Blue Line stations, including West Falls Church, East Falls Church and Ballston (the first underground station) in the event that Silver Line service is interrupted due to weather, mechanical or other problems.

CONCLUSION
The arrival of Metrorail will require modifications to Reston’s bus service. Fairfax Connector should increase feeder bus service to the new Wiehle Station, and increase shuttle service between Reston Town Center and Wiehle station on Sunset Hills Road beyond the levels currently proposed. Express rush-hour bus service also should be continued to the Pentagon and Crystal City Metro stations, at least on a reduced schedule. In addition, rush-hour service hours should be extended, weekday and weekend service added to ensure that buses meet the first and last Metrorail trains, bus schedules synchronized to match less frequent trains during off-peak periods, and new mid-day circulator routes established to facilitate all-day station access. Local RIBS circulator service also should be improved, including adding reverse service on RIBS 2 and extending RIBS 4 to Wiehle Station. These and the other steps described in this report are essential to provide frequent, reliable, affordable and easy to use public transit to the Wiehle Station and other important destinations for Restonians. This service will be critical for several years while the station is the terminus of the Silver Line. These recommendations build on Reston’s transit tradition, and should be included in the Connector’s Silver Line Phase 1 service changes.

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APPENDIX: PROPOSED SILVER LINE “PHASE 1” FAIRFAX CONNECTOR BUS SERVICE CHANGES

25

Proposed Silver Line “Phase 1”   Fairfax Connector Bus Service Changes 
 

Current Bus Service (Jan. 2013) 
  Total Number  Of Daily Trips:   Weekday;  Saturday, Sunday    58; 34,34 trips  Weekday‐ Boardings/  Boardings‐ Per‐Trip  (2009)2    3,657/61 

 

Proposed Phase 1 Bus Service (as of Feb. 25, 2013)
Frequency  (minutes):  Rush,Non‐Rush/  Saturday/Sunday    15,20/30/30 min 

Route1  Description      401  “Backlick – Gallows Road  Northbound” 

Days/Times    All:   (Weekdays  3:25 a.m. to  12:35 a.m.,  Weekends  4:25 a.m. to  11:49 p.m.) 

Service Changes:  Additions and  Deletions     

Route    401 

Description    “Backlick – Gallows – Tysons  Northbound” 

402 

“Backlick – Gallows Road  Southbound” 

All:  (Weekdays  4:06 a.m. to  12:57 a.m.,  Weekends  5:30 a.m. to  12:50 a.m.) 

62; 35,35 trips 

77/11 

 

402 

“Backlick – Gallows – Tysons  Southbound” 

Days/Times    All:  (Weekdays  4:20 a.m. to  midnight;   Saturdays   5:30 a.m. to  11:00 p.m.,   Sundays   6:00 a.m. to  10:00 p.m.)  All :  (Weekdays  4:20 a.m. to  midnight;   Saturdays   5:30 a.m. to  11:00 p.m.,   Sundays   6:00 a.m. to  10:00 p.m.)      Weekday Rush Weekday Rush  Weekday Rush  Weekday Rush  Weekday Rush  Seasonal     

15,20/30/30 min 

425  427        462  463  480   

“Tysons – Jones Branch Drive”  “Tysons – Greensboro Drive”        “Vienna – Park Street”  “Vienna – Navy Federal Credit  Union”  “Wolf Trap Express”   

Weekdays   Weekdays         Weekday Rush  Weekday Rush  Seasonal   

Weekdays 52 trips  Weekdays 54 trips      Rush 7 trips  Rush 11 trips     

806/31  1,077/40             

Eliminated  Eliminated  New Route New Route  New Route        New Route  (Jan. 2013) 

    432  434  461  462  463  480  495F 

    “Wolf Trap Connector” “Dunn Loring – McLean”  (Two routing options)  “Vienna Circulator”  “Dunn Loring – Tysons”  (Two routing options)  “Vienna – Tysons”    “Burke Centre VRE to Tysons –  Full Circulation”   

  Rush 30 min Rush 30 min  Rush 30 min  Rush 30 min  Rush 30 min  Seasonal   

 (Feb. 26, 2013) 

      504  505 

        “Reston  Town Center”  RTC to WFC 

        All:  (Weekday  4:30 a.m. to  11:50 p.m.;  Saturday  7:30 a.m. to  12:50 a.m.;  Sunday  7:30 a.m. to  11:08 p.m.  Weekday Rush 

        Two‐Way Service  75 trips  (including 38  reverse rush trips);  70,62 trips 

        1,370/14 

New Route  (Jan. 2013)  New Route  (Jan. 2013)  New Route  (Jan. 2013)  (Eliminated  2006)  Eliminated 

495G  495J  495M     

“Burke Centre VRE to Tysons –  Greensboro Circulation”  “Burke Centre VRE to Tysons –  Jones Branch Circulation”  “Burke Centre VRE to Tysons –  McLean Circulation”     

         

         

551 

“Reston  South – South Lakes Drive”   

Rush 36 trips  (including 10  reverse rush trips) 

704/23 

 

551 

 “Reston  South – South Lakes”   

Weekday Rush 

552  553  554  555  556  557 

“Reston North – North Shore Drive”  Reston South – Glade Drive –  Viking and Pinecrest”  “Reston North – Wiehle Avenue”  “Sunset Hills Park and Ride –   West Falls Church”  North Village to RTC   (bus continued as 505 to WFC)  “Reston South – Soapstone Drive”                     

Weekday Rush  Weekday Rush  Weekday Rush  Weekday Rush  Weekday Rush  Weekday Rush 

Rush 17 trips  Rush 10 trips  Rush 14 trips  Rush 37 trips  Rush 20 trips  Rush 11 trips 

500/26  226/15  424/30    85/4  373/27 

      Eliminated  (Eliminated  2009)   

552  553  554      557 

“Reston North – North Short  Drive”  “Reston South – Viking –  Pinecrest”  “Reston North – Wiehle”      “Reston South – Glade” 

Weekday Rush  Weekday Rush  Weekday Rush      Weekday Rush 

Morning Rush:   15 min,  Evening Rush:  30 min (15 min  with RIBS2)  Rush 15 min  Rush 15 min  Rush 15 min      Rush 15 min 


 (Feb. 26, 2013) 

574 

“Tysons Corner – Reston”   

585 

“Reston South Park and Ride”    “Pentagon Express”  “Crystal City Express”  “Fair Oaks – Reston”  

All:  (Weekdays  5:10 a.m. to  11:10 p.m.,  Saturdays  6:10 a.m. to  9:13 p.m.;  Sundays  6:10 a.m. to  7:13 p.m.)  Weekday Rush 

37 trips  (including  18 reverse trips);   32,28 trips 

434//12 

 

574 

“Reston Town Center – Tysons” 

All:  (Weekdays   5 a.m. to 11 p.m.,  Saturdays   6 a.m. to 11 p.m.,  Sundays   6 a.m. to 8 p.m.)   

30,60/60/60 min 

Rush 33 trips 

500/21 

 

585 

595  597  605 

 

 

Weekday Rush  Weekday Rush  All:  (Weekdays  6:56 a.m. to  9:26 p.m.;  Saturday  7:10 a.m. to  7:08 p.m.,  Sunday  8:10 a.m. to  6:15 p.m.)   

Rush 13  Rush 10  Two‐Way Service  30; 26,22 trips 

326/25  230/23  621/23 

Eliminated  Eliminated   

    605 

“Reston Parkway – Franklin  Farms”        “Fair Oaks – Reston” 

Weekdays  (5:00 a.m.to  7:30 p.m.)      All 

Weekdays only  15,60 min      No Change 

 

 

New Route 

720 

“Chain Bridge Road – McLean”  

      922 

      [Herndon Line] 

       

       

      238/9 

New Route  New Route  New Route  Eliminated  (June 2009)    3 

721  722  724   

“Chain Bridge Road – Langley”   “Churchill Road”  (Two routing options)  “Lewinsville Road”   

All:   (Weekdays  off‐peak only  9:00 a.m. to  4:00 p.m.,   Saturdays   7:00 a.m. to  8:00 p.m.,   Sundays   8:00 a.m. to  8:00 p.m.)  Weekday Rush  Weekday Rush  Weekday Rush   

‐‐,20/40/40 min 

Rush 20 min  Rush 30 min  Rush 20 min   

 (Feb. 26, 2013) 

924 

“Herndon Parkway –  Dranesville Road”  “Worldgate – Dranesville Road”  “Dulles Corner – McNair Farms” 

Weekday Rush 

Rush 21 trips 

190/9 

 

924 

926  927 

Weekday Rush  Weekdays  

Rush 19 trips  Weekdays 30 trips 

137/7  274/9 

   

926  927 

“West Herndon”  (Two routing options)    “Central Herndon”  (Two routing options)  “South Herndon”    “Centreville Road”  “Herndon – Reston Town   Center” 

Weekday Rush 

Rush 15 min 

Weekday Rush  Weekdays  (5:00 a.m. to  9:00 p.m.)  Weekday Rush  All:  (Weekdays   (5:00 a m. to  midnight;   Weekends   6:00 a.m. to  midnight) 

Rush 15 min  Weekdays only  15,30 min  Rush 15 min  30,30/30/30 min 

929  950 

“Centreville Road”  “Herndon – Reston”   

951 

“Sunrise Valley Drive –  REVERSE COMMUTE 

Weekday Rush  All:  (Weekdays  4:10 a.m. to  1:05 a.m.,  Saturday  5:56 a.m. to  1:08 a.m.,  Sunday  5:56 a.m. to  11:40 p.m.)  Weekday Rush 

Rush 18 trips  Two‐Way Service  116; 78,70 trips  

191/14  3,428/45     

   

929  950 

 

Rush 19 trips 

254/13 

 

951 

“Sunrise Valley” 

952 

“Sunset Hills Road” –  REVERSE COMMUTE 

Weekday Rush 

Rush 18 trips 

243/14 

 

952 

“Sunset Hills”   

Option 1:   Possible Elimination    Option 2:  Weekday Rush  Option 1:   Possible Elimination    Option 2:  Weekday Rush     

‐‐      Option 2:  Rush 15 min  ‐‐      Option 2:  Rush 15 min                             


 (Feb. 26, 2013) 

 

 

 

 

 

New Route 

959 

“Sunrise Valley – Sunset Hills   Circulator”    Option 1: Large Loop from  Centreville Road to Hunter Mill  Road via Sunrise Valley Drive  and Sunset Hills Road.  (No service on Routes 951‐ 952)        Option 2: Shorter Reston Town  Center to Wiehle Station via  Sunset Hills Road route  (extending to Hunter Hill at  peak periods) and  continuation of Routes 951‐ 952.  “Herndon‐Monroe –  Wiehle‐Reston East” 

980 

“Herndon‐Monroe”   

981 

“Tysons West‐Park to Dulles  Airport Express”   

RIBS 1  “Lake Anne – Hunters Woods Line”   

Weekday Rush  Rush (unknown, but  every 6 minutes at  peak, estimate  82 trips)  All:  Two‐Way Service  (Weekdays  88; 42,21 trips   5:50 a.m. to  11:48 p.m.,  Weekends  6:33 a.m. to  11:00 p.m.) All:  34; 31,15 trips  (Weekdays  round‐trips  5:11 a.m. to  12:08 a.m.,  Saturday  6:10 a.m. to  11:13 p.m.,  Sundays   6:05 a.m. to  8:10 p.m.)       

2,690/32 

 

980 

      Option 1:  All:  (Weekdays   5:00 a.m. to  midnight;   Weekends   6:00 a.m. to  midnight)    Option 2:  All:  (Weekdays   5:00 a.m. to  midnight;   Weekends   6:00 a.m. to  midnight)  Weekday Rush 

      Option 1:  30,30/60/60 min                Option 2:  20,15/15/15 min   

Rush 12 min 

 

New Route  (June 2012) 

981 

“Dulles International Airport” 

708/21 

 

RIBS 1 

“Lake Anne – Hunters Woods  Line” 

All:   (Weekdays   5:00 a.m. to  11:00 p.m.;  Weekends   6:00 a.m. to  11:00 p.m.) All:  (Same Days  and Times) 

20,20/20/40 min 

No Change 


 (Feb. 26, 2013) 

RIBS 2  “South Lakes Drive – Herndon‐ Monroe Line”   

RIBS 3  “Hunters Woods – Lake Anne Line”   

RIBS 4  “North Point Line”   

RIBS 5  “Herndon Line”   

All:  (Weekdays  5:11 a.m. to  12:05 a.m.,  Saturday  6:10 a.m. to  11:10 p.m.,  Sunday  6:05 a.m. to  8:10 p.m.)  All:  (Weekdays  5:15 a.m.  to 12:05 a.m.,  Saturdays   6:10 a.m. t0  11:10 p.m.,  Sunday  6:10 a.m. to  8:10 p.m.)  All:  Weekday   6:11 a.m. to   10:10 p.m.,   Saturday  6:00 a.m.  to 10:05 p.m.,  Sunday  6:00 a.m. to  8:05 p.m.)  All:  (Weekdays  6:25 a.m. to  10:10 p.m.,   Saturday  6:30 a.m. to  9:35 p.m.,  Sunday   6:25 a.m. to  7:30 p.m.)         

34; 31,14   round‐trips 

968/28 

 

RIBS 2 

“South Lakes Drive – Herndon‐ Monroe Line” 

All:  (No Change) 

No Change 

34; 31,15   round‐trips 

964/28 

 

RIBS 3 

“Hunters Woods – Lake Anne  Line” 

All:  (No Change) 

No Change 

35; 30,13   round‐trips 

566/18 

 

RIBS 4 

“North Point Line” 

All:  Weekday   (No Change) 

No Change 

24; 20,14   round‐trips 

 

(New Route  2010) 

RIBS 5 

“Herndon Line” 

All:  (No Change) 

No Change 


 (Feb. 26, 2013) 

 

 

 

 

 

New Route 

SLC 1 

 

 

 

 

 

New Route 

SLC 2 

“McLean – East Tysons  Circulator”  (Two routing options)  “Tysons – Central Tysons  Circulator” 

 

 

 

 

 

New Route 

SLC 3 

“Greensboro – South Tysons  Circulator”  “Spring  Hill – North Tysons  Circulator”   

 

 

 

 

 

New Route 

SLC 4 

Weekdays   (5:30 a.m. to  11:00 p.m.)  All  (Weekdays   5:30 a.m. to  11:30 p.m.,  Saturdays   6:00 a.m. to  10:00 p.m.,   Sundays   6:00 a.m.  to 8:00 p.m.)  Weekdays  (5:30 a.m. to  11:00 p.m.)  Weekdays  (5:30 a.m. to  11:30 p.m.) 

Weekdays only  10,20‐30 min  10,20‐30/  20‐30/ 20‐30 min 

Weekdays only  10,20‐30 min  Weekdays only  10, 20‐30 min 

 
                                                        1    Sources:  Current “North Fairfax County” System Map (Aug. 30, 2012), available at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/pdf/northcountysystemmap.pdf;  Current bus routes and schedules, available at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/routes;  “Proposed Silver Line Bus Service,” available at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/routes/dullesrail/allroutes.htm.  [36 routes, including SLC and RIBS 1, 2, 3];   “Silver Line Phase 1 Bus Service Plan” (Revised Public Meeting Presentation), available at http://www.slideshare.net/fairfaxcounty/silver‐ linebusserviceplan?ref=http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/news/presentations.htm;  Proposed “Reston Area” routes only, available at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/routes/dullesrail/reston.htm.  [15 routes including RIBS 1, 2, 3];  Proposed “Wiehle‐Reston East Metro Station” routes only, available at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/routes/dullesrail/wiehlerestoneaststation.htm.  [19 routes, including RIBS 1, 2, 3];  “Six routes recommended for elimination,” available at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/routes/dullesrail/eliminations.htm.      Source: Fairfax County Transit Development Plan (Dec. 2009), Chapter 7.  The plan is available at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/tdp.htm.  These ridership figures predate the opening of the new Sunset Hills park and  ride lot and the creation of the express 555 route to West Falls Church Metro, which may have distorted Reston‐Herndon ridership. 
2


 (Feb. 26, 2013) 

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