Metro is outlining significant service cuts and unusual shuttle bus plans for this summer’s Orange Line shutdown and Silver Line single-tracking through East Falls Church, West Falls Church, Dunn Loring and Vienna.
The details come as major parking closures begin this weekend at several of the stations for construction staging work, even though the station closures do not begin until late May.
From May 23 until about Sept. 7, Vienna, Dunn Loring and East Falls Church stations will be closed to riders.
At West Falls Church, trains will single-track. Trains will pass through East Falls Church on a single track without stopping.
The stations see more than 12,000 riders each morning.
Metro plans to run Orange and Silver Line trains only every 16 minutes each at stations such as Tysons Corner, Wiehle-Reston East and West Falls Church.
At rush hour, those trains are typically scheduled at least every eight minutes.
Metro does plan to run additional Orange Line trains between Ballston and New Carrollton, which will lead to nearly regular service at the New Carrollton end of the Orange Line.
Overall, the cut to Silver Line trains means service at stations from Ballston through downtown D.C. to Stadium-Armory is scheduled to be cut about 16% at rush hour. Riders between Largo Town Center in Maryland and Stadium-Armory in D.C. will see a 25% cut in service at rush hour.
In addition, Blue Line trains will be scheduled every eight minutes as usual during rush hour, and will run every eight minutes at other times of day to offset service cuts at off-hours.
Starting May 23, when the stations close, parking will be free at Vienna and Dunn Loring, with the goal of getting people on shuttle buses.
Starting this weekend, though, there is no parking at East Falls Church. The kiss and ride will stay open for pick up and drop off.
At West Falls church, half of all parking is closed starting this weekend, so Metro expects the 1,100 spaces in the garage to fill up by 7 a.m., especially since West Falls Church is the only station at that end of the Orange Line that will have rail service and parking.
The parking cuts are expected to last beyond the time stations reopen since some additional work will continue.
Traffic is also a concern due to ongoing toll lane construction on Interstate 66.
Shuttle bus plans
Rather than shuttle buses stopping at all closed stations, Metro is planning a series of routes that skip stops or run only at certain times of day.
Three routes that will run every five minutes at rush hour and every 10 minutes at other times Metro is typically open will connect
- West Falls Church and Dunn Loring
- East Falls Church and Ballston
- Vienna and West Falls Church
Two routes that will run every eight minutes only at rush hour and only in the rush hour direction (toward D.C. from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and back west from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) will connect
- (Silver Line) Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride, Ballston, Court House, Rosslyn
- (Orange Line) Vienna, Ballston, Court House, Rosslyn
Two other more limited shuttle routes will be available only on request from riders who need to go between Vienna and Dunn Loring, and between East Falls Church and West Falls Church at all times the system is usually open.
Accessible shuttles for people with mobility issues will also be available on request, but the West Falls Church station elevators and escalators are not expected to be working, so people needing an accessible shuttle will be directed to take shuttles to Ballston to board trains, or from Ballston to reach the stations in the track work zone.
Last summer, Metro was surprised to see more than half of all riders stick with shuttle buses during the Blue and Yellow Line shutdown.
“Please note, shuttle buses will depart once the seats are filled, regardless of schedule time. There is no standing room available on coach buses, which will be used primarily for the shuttle service,” Metro said.
Regular bus alternatives
Metro does not have plans to add to its regular bus options during the shutdown, and changes are possible because of proposed cuts in the budget due to start this summer.
However, local bus systems do plan to add service, and Virginia Railway Express is another option for some riders.
Metrobus backup plans include:
- Route 3Y between East Falls Church, Rosslyn and K Street (rush hour, rush hour direction)
- Route 5A between Dulles International Airport, Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride, Rosslyn and L’Enfant Plaza
- Route 38B between Ballston and Farragut Square, mainly following the Orange Line route
Virginia is expected to provide state funds to cover 80% of local government costs for additional service and other efforts to encourage people to carpool, take transit or telework rather than adding to traffic on I-66 and other roads.
Local bus system options already or soon to be available include:
- Arlington’s ART Route 55 East Falls Church-Rosslyn
- Fairfax Connector (rush hour, rush direction only) Route 698 Vienna to Pentagon
- Fairfax Connector (rush hour) Route 699 Fairfax County Government Center to Foggy bottom
- Fairfax Connector (rush hour) expected Route 697 Stringfellow Park and Ride to L’Enfant Plaza
- PRTC OmniRide routes 60 (Manassas) and 61 (Gainesville) to Tysons Corner
- PRTC OmniRide Route 601 Manassas-Farragut Square/McPherson Square
- PRTC OmniRide Route 602 Manassas-Pentagon
- PRTC OmniRide Route 611 Gainesville-Farragut Square/McPherson Square
- PRTC OmniRide Route 612 Gainesville-Pentagon/Smithsonian/Navy Yard
- PRTC OmniRide Route 622 Haymarket-Ballston/Rosslyn
- Loudoun County commuter buses (Metro Connection bus service has already shifted from West Falls Church to Ballston)
Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation also plans to provide funding to implement parking restrictions, HOV changes and enforcement near Metro stations, improved signage for people who decide to walk or bike, and additional shuttle buses.
The City of Fairfax plans a free shuttle to the Burke VRE Station to get riders on the Manassas Line.
Fairfax County plans additional service on Fairfax Connector, and PRTC OmniRide plans extra trips on commuter buses from Prince William County.
The state plans an expanded campaign to promote telework, and the regional Northern Virginia Transportation Commission plans to again run an ad campaign after the stations reopen to draw riders back to the rail system.