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After first year, Silver Line ridership booming at end of the line

The Wiehle-Reston East Metro station on the Silver Line when it was under construction. (WTOP/Max Smith)

WASHINGTON — As the Silver Line’s first phase reaches one year since it opened, new data show the end-of-the-line Wiehle Reston-East Station is outperforming projections for the number of riders at this point.

Also, new Metro data released to WTOP shows the stations in the Tysons area have yet to reach their projected weekday numbers.

The data show an average of 9,197 passengers entered the system at Wiehle Reston-East on an average weekday in June, about 1,000 more than projected for the end of the first year in the 2004 Environmental Impact Statement.

In an email, Metro spokeswoman Morgan Dye called it“the Silver Line’s commuting powerhouse.”

The station has a large parking garage that is divided into public and private lots, a secure bike room and a bus loop where a number of buses that used to go to West Falls Church now drop hundreds of riders a day.

Even just a month and a half after the Silver Line opened last July 26, Wiehle Reston-East averaged more than 8,000 entries. The week of Sept. 8, 2014  to Sept. 12, 2014, all of the new Silver Line stations had already hit about 60 percent of projected daily ridership for the first year.

Metro says those approximately 15,000 entries on an average weekday that week in September have now risen to 17,088 entries at the five new stations on an average weekday this June. Dye extrapolates that to approximately 34,000 total entries and exits.

By 2025, about five years after the second phase of the Silver Line is now set to open with a station at Washington Dulles International Airport, the environmental impact report projected total transit ridership in the corridor would hit 68,500 riders.

Now, the Greensboro, McLean and Spring Hill stations each averaged 1,000 to 2,000 daily entries on weekdays in June, below planners’ projections. Fairfax County and some businesses in the area are hoping that the stations will draw additional development that could increase ridership and decrease the need for shorter car trips in the area.

The Tysons Corner station, which connects to Tysons Corner Center, saw the most weekday riders of the Tysons-area stops. The data show 3,423 riders entered the Tysons Corner station on an average weekday in June.

Unusually for a station in Fairfax County, the station sees more people entering in the afternoon rush hour than in the morning.

Greensboro averaged the lowest daily weekday ridership in June, with 1,185 entries. The station sits in the middle of Va. 7/Leesburg Pike near the Booz Allen Hamilton and SAIC buildings, just northwest of the intersection with Route 123/Chain Bridge Road.

While the Silver Line has drawn thousands of riders, it also impacted other Metro users across the system. In a report earlier this month recommending a cutback in service, Metro staff said on time performance has slipped across the system since the Silver Line was introduced last year.

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