Metro’s 24/7 shutdown: Vienna, Dunn Loring stations get free summer parking

Metro plans to offer free parking this summer at two of the three Orange Line stations set to close for months starting Memorial Day weekend, as the third station sees even more significant disruptions.

On Thursday, the Metro Board is expected to approve free parking at Vienna and Dunn Loring effective May 23.

The free parking could continue for up to six months but would likely be for a much shorter period. Metro is currently projecting the stations will reopen the day after Labor Day, Sept. 8.

East Falls Church will also be closed to riders this summer, but no parking will be available and regular bus service at the station will be significantly disrupted, because the entire parking lot will be closed for use by construction crews.

The main parking lot closure starts March 15.

“All transit services, including parking, at East Falls Church will be suspended during the Summer 2020 period,” Metro Board briefing documents said.

Trains will pass through East Falls Church without stopping to limit the delays on the Orange and Silver Line tied to single-tracking there.

The first impacts began this week when Loudoun County Metro Connection buses shifted from going to and from West Falls Church to instead go to and from Ballston until the shutdown is over.

Metro is expected to run additional trains from Ballston through downtown, so scheduled rush hour service is only cut about 25% there as opposed to 50% at stations west of Ballston.

Metro plans to continue regular bus services at Vienna and Dunn Loring and offer free shuttle buses on routes between Vienna and West Falls Church, Vienna, between Dunn Loring and West Falls Church, and between East Falls Church and Ballston.

Trains are expected to run to and from West Falls Church on the Orange Line and Wiehle-Reston East on the Silver Line no more than every 16 minutes at rush hour.

“The West Falls Church Metro station will continue to provide Metrorail service, so staff is not recommending waiving the parking fees at that station,” the documents said.

Metro expects to shift $2.5 million from its capital budget to the operating budget to make up for the parking fees lost during the shutdown.

Metro did the same thing last year when it allowed for free parking at stations like Franconia-Springfield and Huntington during last summer’s Blue and Yellow Line shutdown.

Given how many more empty spaces were available than usual during last year’s shutdown, Metro staff members are not concerned about visitors to the Mosaic District taking up all the spots at Dunn Loring-Merrifield while parking is free.

There would normally be a fee associated with parking in the lot without taking the train.

State and local governments in Virginia are still finalizing additional bus options for commuters and other efforts to continue to provide access and limit major traffic jams during this year’s summerlong closures.

The 24/7 track work this summer comes as Interstate 66 toll lane construction remains in high gear.

Unlike past Orange Line shutdowns, there is already existing Fairfax Connector service now between Vienna and Pentagon.

Route 698 runs toward the Pentagon in the morning and back in the afternoon. Routes like that could see service increases or other improvements during the shutdown.

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