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Metrorail SafeTrack - Know Your Commuting Alternatives Archived Discussion Room

Fairfax County, Virginia

Metrorail SafeTrack - Know Your Commuting Alternatives

The Metrorail SafeTrack plan is here and major track work begins Saturday, June 4. To avoid gridlock, commuters are urged to consider carpooling, vanpooling, taking the bus, biking and teleworking as often as possible during Metro’s ongoing work. Know your commuting options and prepare now! Nick Perfili and Ciara Williams from Fairfax County Department of Transportation will be online Thursday, June 2 at noon to answer your questions about commuter options in the county. Log on live or submit your questions now to learn more.


Nicholas Perfili :

Good afternoon and thank you for joining us for today’s Ask Fairfax! online discussion on Metro’s SafeTrack rail rebuilding program and commuting options.  I am Nick Perfili with the Fairfax County Department of Transportation’s (FCDOT) Transit Services Division-Fairfax Connector Section, and joining me is Ms. Ciara Williams from FCDOT’s Transportation Services Group.

By now most of us have heard about SafeTrack, which accelerates three years’ worth of Metrorail system maintenance into approximately one year by expanding work efforts on weeknights, weekends, and middays; and includes long duration track outages, known as Safety Surges, for major projects, including during weekday rush hours.  The impact on the regional transportation system is expected to be extensive as commuters adjust routines and travel methods.  We are very aware of the potential for additional traffic on roadways due to the influx of rail riders seeking alternate travel around work zones.

Before we begin with your questions, I would like to brief you on the steps you can take, and that we are taking, to mitigate the reduced level of Metrorail service while critical maintenance is underway. 

To reduce the potential for severe congestion on Fairfax County roads if thousands of Metrorail riders begin driving, FCDOT is urging commuters to telework and use flexible work schedules whenever possible; and encouraging the use of alternate ways to commute that do not involve driving alone, including:          

** Existing and supplemental local and express Fairfax Connector and Metrobus connections to and from Herndon, Reston, Vienna, East Falls Church, West Falls Church, Dunn Loring, McLean, Ballston, Rosslyn, and Pentagon.

** Establishing a carpool or vanpool, utilizing park-and-ride facilities for ridesharing and slugging, and getting assistance with planning your commute.

** Other modes of transportation such as biking, walking, and Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter rail.

These other travel methods are important as bus service will not replace the capacity of rail service disrupted by SafeTrack.

In two days on Saturday, June 4th, first Safety Surge will cause continuous single tracking on the Orange and Silver lines between the Ballston and East Falls Church Metrorail stations.  The first rush hour affected by this work will be the morning of Monday, June 6th.  Metro anticipates rush hour crowding on Orange and Silver line trains serving the Vienna and Wiehle ends of the lines west of Ballston.  Many riders will be affected.  In short, there really is no way to say this will not cause commuting challenges.

Dulles and I-66 corridor commuters planning for the first Safety Surge should take note of express bus service options, including supplemental express service between Reston and the Pentagon on Fairfax Connector Route 599, special Fairfax Connector express service via I-66 between Vienna and the Pentagon, and additional trips on Metrobus Route 5A between Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride and Rosslyn.  In addition, existing express service operates between Saratoga Park & Ride and the Pentagon on Fairfax Connector routes 393 and 394 for those who can travel via the Fairfax County Parkway.

Metro is also enhancing service on key bus routes that parallel the Orange and Silver lines and I-66, including Metrobus routes 2A, 3Y, and 38B, offering additional travel options at Dunn Loring, East Falls Church, and Ballston.

More information on these bus routes and park-and-ride facilities is available at fairfaxcounty.gov/safetrack and wmata.com/safetrack.  Please visit these websites regularly for the latest news and information.

If you have not already done so, please take time today to review your commuting options and strategies.  Metro’s online Trip Planner (at wmata.com) is a great tool to use to learn where Fairfax Connector, Metro, and other bus service near your neighborhood or workplace can take you (select the “Bus only” trip planning option).

With that, Ciara and I will begin answering your questions.


Margot : Wear do I catch the Fairfax Connector to go from Vienna Metro to the Pentagon? Where should I look for the bus in the parking lot, and what times does it leave during morning rush hour? And how long will this service last? Thank you!

Nicholas Perfili : Hello fellow Vienna Metro/Orange Line commuter!  Fairfax Connector's special Vienna-Pentagon SafeTrack service will depart from the south side of the station, Bay N.  Bay N is the current "drop-off only" bay used by Fairfax Connector.


Anonymous User : Will there be places to park my car if I decide to carpool or vanpool?

Ciara Williams : Hello! Absolutely.  There are over 40 Park and Ride facilities located throughout Fairfax County where employees can meet their carpools, vanpools, or bus.  All Park and Ride facilities are free of charge with the exception of those located at Metrorail stations. 


Jeffrey Deutsch : During the July 5 - 11, July 12 - 18, January 2 - 13 and January 23 - February 3 Safety Surges, what can you do to help us get between Huntington Metro and Pentagon? Thank you!

Nicholas Perfili : Good afternoon, Jeffrey.  Plans for Safety Surges affecting the Blue and Yellow lines are still under development, however, plan for additional trips to be offered on Metrobus Route 11Y (via G.W. Pkwy and 14th St Bridge) and Fairfax Connector express service between the Franconia-Springfield and Pentagon Metrorail stations.  Additional bus plans will be announced soon.


Anonymous User : Will there be sluglines at the Vienna Metro during SafeTrack?

Ciara Williams : Sluglines are operated through private entities.  However, all commuters are more than welcome to establish sluglines at any of our 40 Park and Ride facilities. 


Anonymous User : I usually board the Orange line at Dunn Loring during rush hour. With one train running every 18 minutes, I am concerned that I may not be able to even get on a train. Will Metro or the county be providing any bus shuttles to get us to Ballston if trains become too full?

Nicholas Perfili : Dunn Loring rider: Thanks for asking about this.  Riders at Dunn Loring who want to or have to continue using Orange Line trains will have to watch for train crowding during AM rush hours.  A bus alternative you should consider is the supplemental service being offered on Metrobus Route 2A, which operates along Lee Hwy and Washington Blvd.  At East Falls Church, connect from Metrobus 2A to Metrobus 3Y (the transfer will be free with SmarTrip) for a ride into Farragut Square in the District, or continue on the 2A to Ballston where additional rail service will operate. 


Anonymous User : What other options do I have to avoid some of the potential gridlock during the metro repairs?

Ciara Williams : Good afternoon! We are urging everyone to telework or use flexible work schedules as much as possible.  We are also encouraging everyone to consider alternative commuting options outside of driving alone such as carpooling, vanpooling, taking Fairfax Connector, Metrobus, and Virginia Railway Express; as well as biking and walking whenever possible. 


Anonymous User : Do you know about the Metro 15K and 3Y bus lines? I am thinking of taking those from East Falls Church. I normally take the 721 Fairfax County bus to the Silver Line, but am not sure if I will be able to get on trains.

Nicholas Perfili : Thanks for asking about the 15K,L Metrobus routes.  These routes will likely be a good option for McLean area riders as they provide a service options that bypasses the single track work zone.  The 15K and 15L travel via Westmoreland St and the northern portion of VA-123/Chain Bridge Rd and G.W. Pkwy between McLean and Rosslyn via Langley.  At Rosslyn, connections can be made to Blue, Orange, or Silver line trains to continue to destinations in Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, or Maryland.  Head to wmata.com/bus to get more information on Metrobus routes 15K and 15L.


Anonymous User : How can I find a car or vanpool to take me to and from work?

Ciara Williams : Hi there! As a member of Commuter Connections, Fairfax County helps commuters who are interested in carpools and vanpools by connecting them with others who live and work near them.  Call Fairfax County Department of Transportation RideSources (703) 877-5900 for additional assistance. 


Anonymous User : I notice that the bus service expansions only cover Vienna, Reston, and East Falls Church. Why are the West Falls Church and Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro stops comparatively neglected? I see no feasible way to get from the Dunn Loring stop to Reston except for taking a 401 North to Greensboro then taking a 574 to the RTC. Do I have any faster alternatives?

Nicholas Perfili : Hello.  Metro will be operating limited shuttle bus service between West Falls Church and Ballston, and additional bus service from Dunn Loring will operate on Metrobus Route 2A which parallels the Orange Line corridor and I-66.  Using Fairfax Connector 401/402 to connect to Fairfax Connector 574 in Tysons (my suggestion is to make this connection at  Tysons West*Park Transit Station) to get to Reston will take more time vs. the Silver Line, so we are asking you to plan now for the additional travel time.


Anonymous User : Part of the reason I am afraid to carpool is because I have children at home. What happens if I carpool or take a bus and then an emergency happens and I need to leave work early?

Ciara Williams : Great Question! Fairfax County offers the regional Guaranteed Ride Home (GRH) program for employees who carpool or take the bus to work, but need to leave work early for unexpected emergencies.  To begin participating in the GRH program, register online at the link below, or call Commuter Connections at 1-800-745-RIDE (7433). TDD:711.
www.commuterconnections.org/commuters/guaranteed-ride-home/apply-now/


Sean : Will you have any Fairfax Connector buses going from Metro stations (Vienna or Wiehle) to Arlington (Perhaps Ballston or Rosslyn) or DC? If not, is this something you would consider?

Nicholas Perfili : Hi, Sean.  For Safety Surge 1, Fairfax Connector will offer supplemental trips on express Route 599 between Reston and the Pentagon, and special SafeTrack express service between Vienna and the Pentagon via I-66.  In addition, Metrobus will offer additional Route 5A trips between Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride and Rosslyn.  Visit fairfaxcounty.gov/safetrack for details on these services.

Also, Fairfax Connector will continue to operate express bus service between the Springfield area and the Pentagon on routes 393, 394 and 395.  If you can travel to the Saratoga Park & Ride (located at Fairfax County Pkwy at Rolling Rd) during the safety surge work, you can travel to the Pentagon and beyond from the south -- avoiding the I-66 corridor altogether.  Information on Fairfax Connector 393, 394, and 395 is available at fairfaxconnector.com. 


Express Fares : I plan to take a FC bus from Centreville to Vienna, then take the express bus to the Pentagon. Will I have to pay the $4 express fee on top of the $1.75 bus fare from Centrevile?

Nicholas Perfili : That's a fair fare question!  With SmarTrip, you will receive a bus-to-bus transfer discount, meaning your "buy-up" express fare will be $2.25 after paying your local bus fare.


FABB : Could you discuss bicycling options for listeners? Routes? Lockers? Connecting to buses? etc. Plenty of citizens may be just considering it and have never tried even on BTW Day a few weeks ago.

Nicholas Perfili : Bicycling options in the Dulles and I-66 corridor include the W&OD trail, which parallels the Orange and Silver lines from Herndon, Reston, Vienna, and Falls Church into Arlington County.  Riders can connect to the Mt. Vernon Train to get to Crystal City, National Airport, Alexandria, and Mt. Vernon.  All Fairfax Connector and Metro buses have bike racks, which are free to use on a first come, first served basis to riders.  Commuters can supplement their travel to and from bus stops with their bikes!  Bicycle parking is available at all Metrorail stations and most transit hubs, including a secure bike parking facility at the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail station (north side).  View Fairfax County's interactive bike map at fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/bike/bikemap/, and view Fairfax Connector Bike & Ride information at fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/riders/bike.htm .  For more information visit fairfaxcounty.gov/safetrack.


Cindy : What is the pricing for route 599 during the surges?

Nicholas Perfili : Hi, Cindy.  During SafeTrack surges when supplemental service operates, the Route 599 fare will change to the $4 regional express fare.


Anonymous User : Where do I go to see the questions and answers during this session?

Ciara Williams : Great question.  The transcript for this chat will be posted on our website www.fairfaxcounty.gov/safetrack once the session is over. Check back shortly!


Dan : Has WMATA told you if the last trains will leave earlier or later at night? I use the late trains from Vienna.

Nicholas Perfili : Dan- We will follow up with Metro regarding last train departure times.  Please also follow up with Metro via wmata.com.  Thanks.


A 642 rider : I currently take the 642 and am wondering if the service will change to a nonstop direct to Ballston during all of this. I can't seem to find information on that. Can you please answer my question? Sincerely, A 642 rider

Nicholas Perfili : Route 642 will not extend to Ballston during SafeTrack.  Fairfax Connector does not have bus resources to extend all routes around the SafeTrack work zones.


Elizabeth : Are there any alternate options for somebody coming from North Reston to downtown DC other than just waiting out the 20 minute delay on the train? The extra Pentagon service is great, but I'm sure there's plenty of people going to Foggy Bottom (State Department) or Metro Center that could use a more direct shuttle or bus option. Or is the only thing we can do either wait 20 minutes for the trains or take 2/3 buses and deal with transfers?

Nicholas Perfili : Hi, Elizabeth-
We are focusing our limited bus resources at the Pentagon.  From Pentagon, riders will be able to transfer to Blue or Yellow Line trains for service to the District, Alexandria, or Springfield, in addition to the many bus routes connecting to Northern Virginia and DC.  We also will have supervisory staff stationed at the Pentagon to assist customers and manage the increased bus activity at Fairfax Connector's bus bay.  Fairfax Connector is not able to duplicate the coverage or capacity of the Metrorail system with our existing bus fleet. 


Ciara Williams : Please go to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/safetrack for resources and assistance on all of your commuting options.  You can find additional information on Park and Ride locations, ridesharing, as well as commuting by bike!


Kent : I ride the Fairfax #109 to the Metro Blue Line at Van Dorn, then Metrorail to Capitol South Monday to Friday. A closure of the Blue line from July 5 -18th around National Airport will impact my commute. It is unclear from media coverage whether I can rely on Metro shuttle buses to travel from one end of the closure to the other, and going in both directions, depending on whether it is am or pm. I also can't find a listing of the Fairfax Connector Safetrack supplemental routes I might use to bypass these closures, perhaps direct from Franconia/Kingstowne to the Pentagon. Can you help clarify these questions?

Nicholas Perfili : Kent-
For surges affecting the Blue and Yellow lines, including the National Airport shut downs, Metro will operate shuttle bus service between affected stations.  In addition, Fairfax Connector will offer express service between the Franconia-Springfield and Pentagon Metro stations, and Metrobus will offer supplemental 11Y service, to help riders avoid the shutdown zones altogether. 


Anonymous User : Everybody seems to be very interested in the Vienna/Pentagon Express bus. Will there be enough capacity on those buses for everyone?

Nicholas Perfili : Your question is important - Fairfax Connector and Metro buses will not be able to carry the same number of riders as a Metrorail train.  The Vienna - Pentagon express bus service will not have the capacity to replace all Orange Line service.  The capacity of one 6-car Metrorail train is equivalent to approximately 20 Fairfax Connector buses.  Telework, carpool, vanpool, and other ride matching alternatives are explained at fairfaxcounty.gov/safetrack.


Anonymous User : Will you be doing any additional chats as SafeTrack progresses?

Ciara Williams : Good afternoon! We will most certainly do additional chats as SafeTrack moves forward. 


Anonymous User : Thank you for what you're doing to help alleviate the pain during the coming weeks/months. WAMTA relying on the jurisdictions isn't going to solve the problems since the jurisdictions typically don't have the resources to cross jurisdiction lines (i.e., Connector running into DC). I hope that you can reiterate to Metro that they need to run 8-car trains during the upcoming surge. They have pretty much eliminated all 8-car trains on the Silver/Orange/Blue lines in the last few weeks and 6-car trains won't cut it with 18-minute headways. Thanks again!

Nicholas Perfili : Thank you for your comments.  The indication so far is that additional 8-car trains will operate during SafeTrack to help mitigate the 18 minute service frequency.  I also encourage you to contact Metro and share your ideas -- wmata.com. 


Gary : I plan to take the Fairfax Connector 599 from Wiehle to the Pentagon on Monday June 6th leaving at 8am. I imagine a lot of other folks will be doing the same. What happens if there are too many people lined up to get on that bus? Will Fairfax Connector run another?

Nicholas Perfili : Gary-
We scheduled the additional Fairfax Connector service (both the 599 supplemental and Vienna Metro services) to take advantage of the I-66 and Dulles Toll Road HOV 2+ restrictions.  Buses departing Reston (and Vienna Metro) later in the morning risk getting delayed by I-66 traffic congestion when HOV 2+ restrictions end.  With that said, we will be monitoring ridership and will respond as we can with limited fleet resources.  Keep in mind that Metrorail Silver Line service will continue to operate, and trains will likely be less crowded following AM rush.


Anonymous User : What is your best guess about how bad the situation will be on the Orange Line during rush hour on Monday? Will you be monitoring the situation and making adjustments as necessary during the week?

Ciara Williams :

Metro lines affected by SafeTrack maintenance work are expected to be extremely crowded, especially during rush hour. Expect significantly longer wait times, but most of all, please consider alternate travel options or telework next Monday. Metro will be monitoring the situation and we will be doing the same for our express bus service from Vienna along the Orange line.


Alex Lampros : Have you considered running a FFC bus from Herndon-Monroe Parking lot directly to Ballston? Even though the 5A has additional buses for this surge, there still may not be enough capacity. Thank you.

Nicholas Perfili : Hi, Alex.  Metro will operate additional 5A trips to provide options to riders between Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride and Rosslyn.  From Rosslyn, but alternatives exist to travel to Ballston.  Use Metro's online Trip Planner at wmata.com (select the "bus only" option).


Greg : Good afternoon. I take the Orange Line from Dunn Loring to downtown DC. Will there be shuttle buses to Ballston from Dunn Loring. The advisories that I have read are unclear. Thanks!

Nicholas Perfili : Greg- Metro will operate additional Route 2A service to connect Dunn Loring and Ballston via Lee Hwy and Washington Blvd. 


AggieGirl : Thanks for adding am commute service on the 599, but is there thoughts about extending the pm commute hours? 6:05 as the last bus seems awfully early, especially with more people likely to be riding.

Nicholas Perfili : AggieGirl- The added bus service was scheduled to take advantage of the I-66 HOV 2+ restrictions. 


Sue, McLean : Will there be any shuttle buses from McLean to Arlington County? Will there be greeters at the Tysons stations to help riders get information?

Nicholas Perfili : Good afternoon, Sue.  From McLean, I recommend you look into the Metrobus 15K and 15L service.  These routes will bypass the single track zone, and provide service from central McLean to Rosslyn during weekday rush hours.  Connect to Metrobus 15K and 15L with a free transfer (within two hours) from Fairfax Connector 721 with SmarTrip. 


Fairfax Connector Bus Rider : How to I get from Reston South Park & Ride to Farragut Square on June 6th?

Nicholas Perfili : From Reston South Park & Ride, you can still connect to the limited Silver Line service at the Wiehle Metro station, or transfer to a Route 599 bus along Sunset Hills Rd (just north of the station).  As noted above, expect crowding on both the limited Silver Line service and supplemental bus service.  Your best option may be to carpool, telework, or work alternate hours allowing you to commute outside of typical rush hours (use Fairfax Connector 559 to connect to/from Reston South during middays and evenings).  Also, Metrobus will operate additional 5A service between Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride and Rosslyn.  More information: fairfaxcounty.gov/safetrack.


Anonymous User : What mass transit options do you recommend for Reston riders during surge 1 & 2?

Ciara Williams : We are aware of potential overcrowing on the silver line as well as some of our bus routes.  In order to alleviate some of this overcrowing we are urging everyone to either telkework of use flexible work schedules as much as possible.  Please also consider other commuting options outside of driving alone such as carpooling and vanpooling.   Go to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/safetrack for resources and assistance on all of your commuting options!


Nicholas Perfili : Thanks to those who submitted questions and participated in today's Ask Fairfax! chat.  Unfortunately, we were not able to respond to all questions.  It is important for all commuters to learn about their travel options and arrange for telework or ride sharing alternatives.  Please check back frequently to wmata.com/safetrack and fairfaxcounty.gov/safetrack for the latest information on Metro's SafeTrack program.