One year ago, the Silver Line rolled down the tracks for the first time. Undeniably, it benefits many people daily, improving how they commute, shop, play and live. It has been a “transformational success,” says Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova.
Metro reports ridership numbers are strong. Wiehle-Reston East continues to be the Silver Line’s commuting powerhouse, surpassing first-year ridership projections with nearly 9,200 boardings, or 18,400 weekday entries and exits last month.
But why did Fairfax County, along with our regional partners, invest significantly to make the Silver Line a reality? In part, the answer is that we expect the Silver Line to deliver long-term economic benefits, and the new rail line is a key component to the county’s Economic Success Plan.
Here’s what you might not know:
Silver Line Supports Job Growth
Because transit can help concentrate and attract development, people and businesses, we adopted a plan to allow dense, mixed use development around the four Silver Line Stations in Tysons. To date, we’ve already approved up to 31 million new square feet in new development in Tysons since the plan was put in place. These projects can support an estimated more than 48,000 new employees and 30,000 residents. Every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports and creates more than 50,000 jobs, according to research by the American Public Transportation Association.
Silver Line Creates Places Where People Want to Live
Businesses want to be where there’s a large pool of skilled workers and access to domestic and international markets. This means creating places where people want to live. Increasingly, this means walkable, transit-oriented urban centers, like Tysons and Reston. The county’s land use and economic success plans call for creating these urban centers, and rail is a catalyst for transformation. Fairfax County re-planned Tysons and Reston based on the Silver Line, allowing for millions of square feet in new housing, offices, shops and more around the stations. By 2050, Tysons will become home to 100,000 people and 200,000 jobs.
Silver Line Supports Dulles Airport
In its second phase, now under construction, the Silver Line will go to Dulles Airport and beyond. Not only will this make it easier for more people to get to the airport—but also it can stimulate job growth as a result. For example, economist Jan Brueckner finds that a 10 percent increase in passengers results in a 1 percent increase in regional job growth. This is one reason the county’s economic success plan calls for supporting the Silver Line to Dulles.
Haven’t had a chance to ride the Silver Line yet? Then get a preview from Metro’s time-lapse ride to see the sights: