WASHINGTON — After years of waiting and months of delays, the first phase of the Silver Line is now open on Saturday, July 26, and that means it’s time for riders to figure out which stops are most convenient and whether the new stations are worth using.
This part of the Silver Line runs between Wiehle-Reston East, Tysons and East Falls Church, then follows the Orange Line tracks to Stadium-Armory, where it switches to follow the Blue Line tracks between Stadium-Armory and Largo Town Center.
Learn more about amenities at each station, which bus routes will serve the stations and how the new Metro service will affect commuters.
Here’s how trains will be affected. (Courtesy WMATA)
Adding the Silver Line will lead to changes during rush hour that impact riders on all lines except for the Red Line. That’s due to technical limitations on the number of trains Metro can send through each stretch of track.
Although trains will still leave Franconia-Springfield every six minutes during rush hour, Blue Line trains will run once every 12 minutes. The other trains will be Yellow Line trains through L’Enfant Plaza. That means Yellow and Green Line riders from L’Enfant Plaza to Greenbelt will actually see more trains.
Orange Line riders will see more trains between East Falls Church and Rosslyn, but fewer between Vienna and East Falls Church and between Stadium-Armory and New Carrollton.
Metro has rerouted some buses to give Blue Line riders other options now that they may have longer waits on the platform, and more Blue Line trains will be eight cars rather than six.
Metro says these routes may help disenchanted Blue Line riders:
From the Del Ray area: Metrobuses 10E to Pentagon/Braddock Road and the 10R to Rosslyn;
From the Pentagon: Metrobus routes 7Y and 16X to Federal Triangle, 10E to Braddock Road, and ART 42 to Clarendon and Ballston;
From Crystal City: Metrobus 10R to Rosslyn, or ART 43 to Rosslyn and Courthouse;
From Shirlington: Metrobus 7Y to Federal Triangle, Metrobuses 10B, 22A, 23B and 23T to Ballston, and ART 77 to Courthouse;
From Columbia Pike: Metrobus 16Y to McPherson Square, Metrobus 16X to Federal Triangle, ART 41 to Ballston and Courthouse, and ART 45 to Rosslyn and Courthouse.
As an important part of the push to get people to use the Silver Line without putting extra cars on the road, Fairfax County is rolling out 16 new Fairfax Connector routes, including new Circulator buses in the Tysons area that will have 50-cent fares. With the transfer discount, that makes the Circulators free for anyone transferring to or from Metro.
Many buses from Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties that used to go to Vienna or West Falls Church will now drop passengers off at one of the five new Silver Line stations.
Metro riders who want to get to Dulles International Airport will still have the option of the 5A Metrobus from D.C. and Rosslyn, but will now go to Wiehle-Reston East to find Fairfax Connector and Washington Flyer buses. The Fairfax Connector bus from Wiehle-Reston East also will connect to the Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center.
The Wiehle-Reston East station is the final stop along the first phase of the Silver Line, and it is the only station with a parking garage.
While the tracks and station lie in the middle of the Dulles Toll Road, the entrance for the garage and the kiss and ride lot is on the north side of the toll road off Wiehle Avenue.
The garage includes a large, covered bus bay where most buses that go to the station will stop. Some buses will stop on the exit ramp on the south side of the toll road, so riders will have to check the bus bay map.
Many buses that used to go to West Falls Church will now drop off and pick up riders from Wiehle-Reston East. While that is likely to mean a faster trip for many riders and will allow buses to run more frequently, it may lead to higher rail fares for some riders.
There also is a bike storage room and other bike parking.
Wiehle-Reston East is about 1 mile from Reston Town Center, and is just off the Washington and Old Dominion Trail.
While the main entrance to the station is the pedestrian bridge toward the garage, there is a bridge for riders to walk over the toll road from the south side of the station. The bridge also provides access to the Metro for people who live around Lake Thoreau and the Reston National Golf Course.
Trips from Wiehle-Reston East to the Pentagon or D.C. will cost $5.90 during rush hour, or $3.60 each way at other times.
A Silver Line ride from Wiehle-Reston East to Foggy Bottom will take 37 minutes, and a ride to L’Enfant Plaza will take 45 minutes.
According to Metro’s trip planner, a trip to the Pentagon would take about 45 minutes including a transfer to a Blue Line train at Rosslyn. But given that Blue Line trains will now run only every 12 minutes, a commuter would likely need to leave about 50 minutes to 55 minutes to make the trip.
A Silver Line train from the Wiehle-Reston East Station to Foggy Bottom will take 37 minutes and cost $5.90 each way during rush hour.
There are four new Silver Line stations in the Tysons Corner area spaced about 1 mile apart, which makes it important for riders to know which station is most convenient for major office buildings, malls and more.
The station farthest west is Spring Hill, located at the intersection of Spring Hill Road and Va. 7.
The elevated station is not far from the Rotonda Condos, Sheraton Premiere or Embassy Suites. Riders will use pedestrian bridges to access the station from either side of Route 7.
Like the other Tysons stations, it does not have any parking. But there is a Kiss and Ride lot at the corner of Spring Hill Road and the westbound lanes of Va. 7.
Transportation leaders hope many Silver Line riders will take advantage of new bus routes or walk or bike to the Silver Line stations, to avoid traffic jams as riders figure out their way around.
Route 423 connects the Spring Hill and Tysons Corner stations via Jones Branch Drive, Westpark Drive, Tysons Galleria, and Greensboro Drive.
Route 424 serves only North Tysons along Jones Branch Drive, Westpark Drive and International Drive.
Both routes pass the Freddie Mac complex, Gannett, Hilton and Harris Teeter.
There will be buses from Loudoun County Transit, and Fairfax Connector service via Lewinsville Road, Old Courthouse Road and Route 7.
Accessing the Kiss and Ride lot at this station will be tricky. The entrance is at an angle off of Spring Hill Road just yards from the westbound lanes of Va. 7. There are some short-term parking spots in the Kiss and Ride area in addition to the drop off loop, but getting into the mini-parking lot from anywhere except the southbound lanes of Spring Hill Road will take effort and patience.
Drivers in the westbound lanes of Va. 7 who want to reach the Kiss and Ride have to turn right on Spring Hill, then make a U-turn to reach the entrance to the kiss and ride, which is a shared driveway with Enterprise car rental.
Because there is a pedestrian bridge to the sidewalk on the eastbound side of Leesburg Pike, drivers traveling on eastbound Va. 7 from the Herndon area who are looking to drop off or pick up Metro riders may be better off turning right onto Spring Hill Road to find a place to wait.
A Silver Line train from Spring Hill to Federal Triangle will take 34 minutes, and a train to Capitol South would take 42 minutes. Both will cost $5.25 each way during rush hour.
The Tysons Corner station will bring shoppers to both the Galleria and Tysons Corner Center.
The station sits on the Tysons Galleria side of Va. 123, just a few hundred feet from the entrances to both that mall and Tysons Corner Center across the street.
A pedestrian bridge will take those headed to Tysons Corner Center over Va. 123.
The Tysons Corner station does not have parking or a Kiss and Ride lot. But several bus routes will stop at the station including Prince William County’s PRTC Metro Direct to and from Linton Hall and Manassas, and several Metrobus and Fairfax Connector routes.
The Tysons Circulator Route 423 will connect the station with north Tysons locations including the Freddie Mac complex, Gannett and Hilton along with other locations like the Rotonda Condominiums and Booz Allen Hamilton.
Tysons Corner is 12 minutes from Wiehle-Reston East, 32 minutes from Smithsonian and 40 minutes from Eastern Market. A trip to Smithsonian will cost $4.95 at rush hour. While a trip to Eastern Market will cost $5.45 at rush hour.
Click on this image to see a larger version of the current Metro map. (WMATA)
The McLean station may be the best option for commuters who live near the Beltway and who are looking to drop a loved one off at a Silver Line station.
The McLean Kiss and Ride lot is just inside the Beltway along Va. 123 and is near an exit from the Dulles Toll Road.
The station is on the north side of Chain Bridge Road near the Capital One headquarters. But the Kiss and Ride lot is on the south side of the road next to the entrance to the pedestrian access bridge.
While the McLean station does not have a parking garage, a temporary, private parking lot provides several hundred spaces nearby, on Scotts Crossing Road.
The lot will charge drivers who pay in advance $5 daily on weekdays or $90 per month.
McLean is the first new station outbound Silver Line riders will see on trains coming from D.C. via East Falls Church.
The ride between the McLean station and East Falls Church takes eight minutes. And a trip between McLean and Farragut West takes 25 minutes and will cost $4.40 during rush hour.
Metro’s trip planner predicts a trip between McLean and Pentagon City would take about 30 minutes and cost $4.55 during rush hour.