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New bus routes to carry passengers to Silver Line stations

Sunday - 11/10/2013, 12:54pm  ET

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A bus enters the new parking garage at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. (Courtesy Fairfax County Department of Transportation)

More bus service rolling into Fairfax

WTOP's Max Smith reports

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WASHINGTON - Trains aren't the only new thing coming when the Silver Line opens. There will be plenty of new bus routes too.

Many Fairfax Connector routes that currently go to West Falls Church will instead go to the new Wiehle-Reston East Station.

More than 100 buses will come and go from the station's new bus vault each hour. Passengers will wait on a central island one level below the foot bridge over the Dulles Toll Road, which provides access to and from the Metro station.

The bus changes also include new stops and increased service designed to get more people using public transportation to reach the Metro, rather than driving a relatively short distance.

"We talked to passengers and realized that what they need is more frequent service," says Ellen Kamilakis, with the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

"Instead of having one bus and a driver take X amount of time to take 40 passengers all the way down to West Falls Church and back, if we rerouted all of the buses into Wiehle, the main destination for these buses when they go to West Falls Church is a Metro line," she says. "If we take them to the closest Metro station, they can go back in service and start another route again," she adds.

Some routes that currently run every 30 minutes will run more than twice as often. Fairfax Connector is also adding additional service at night and on weekends, especially in the Reston area.

Three new circulator routes in Tysons will have a special fare of just 50 cents. Because of the transfer discount, those buses will be free for anyone who takes the bus to or from the Metro and pays with a SmarTrip card.

Kamilakis says all of the new bus changes will begin on the same day that the Silver Line opens to the public, which is still undetermined.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is building the line and hopes to turn it over to Metro by the end of the month. Metro has said the Silver Line will open to the public within 90 days after that handover.

Wiehle-Reston East is the end of the line for the first phase of the Silver Line, and it's the only one of the five new stations with a parking garage. Trains will run between that station and Largo Town Center via Tysons, East Falls Church and downtown D.C.

Preliminary work is already underway on the second phase of the Silver Line, which will carry passengers to Dulles Airport and into Loudoun County. That second phase is scheduled to open in 2018.

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