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The Future of Fairfax County Bus Service Archived Discussion Room

Fairfax County, Virginia

The Future of Fairfax County Bus Service

Join Randy White, comprehensive transit plan project manager, and Nick Perfili, Fairfax Connector operations and planning manager, on Wednesday, October 8 at 12:30 p.m. for a discussion on Fairfax County’s Comprehensive Transit Plan for bus service over the next 10 years. Ask questions about the “Connections 2015” outreach program; make recommendations on how to improve Fairfax Connector and Metrobus service in Fairfax County; and other suggestions on how the regional bus network can better serve your needs.


Nicholas Perfili :

Good afternoon.  Thank you for joining us for today's Ask Fairfax! online discussion about bus service in Fairfax County.  With me today is Mr. Randy White, Transportation Planner, who is leading "Connections 2015" and Fairfax County's comprehensive transit planning effort.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) recently launched Connections 2015 to hear directly from county residents, employees, and visitors about how to create better connections and better bus service over the next ten years. We are reaching out to the public to discuss improvements in bus service we should consider for implementation over that time.

You can participate in Connections 2015 during this chat or by attending one of two remaining public workshops for our initial round of outreach.  Tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 9 we will be at Chantilly Public Library, 4000 Stringfellow Road in Chantilly.  In addition, our final workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014 at Mt. Eagle Elementary School, 616 N. Kings Hwy in  Alexandria.  Both workshops will run from 6 to 8 p.m.

FCDOT has a website and an online survey available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/connections2015/, which includes additional information about the county's Comprehensive Transportation Plan. For more information or if you have questions about Connections 2015, please visit us online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/connections2015/.


Robin Staffin : How and when will you provide more frequent, reliable, and centrally located bus service between Reston Town Center and Wiehle-Reston Metro Station? Before the transition to the Silver line, we had frequent and reliable peak hour service from RTC on the 555 every 10 minutes to West Falls Church.

Nicholas Perfili : Hello, Robin.  Service operates between Reston Town Center and the Wiehle Metro station on a combination of routes 505, 981, and 983 every 8 to 13 minutes on average during the week.  As part of our future service change proposal for this coming January, we will be recommending a new bus schedule that reflects bus travel times adjusted for traffic conditions.  In addition, extra buses were added post-Silver Line to help maintain Route 505 on time performance.


Phil Desaulniers : The 981 bus from Wiehle station to Dulles airport takes far too long; driving directly takes eight minutes, while the bus takes 30 minutes. Perhaps the Herndon-Monroe stop could be eliminated to reduce the transit time to get to the airport.

Nicholas Perfili : Hi, Phil.  We continue to monitor ridership on our Silver Line bus service, including passenger counts for Route 981 and 983 service at Herndon-Monroe.  While routes 981 and 983 operate local between Dulles Airport, the Air & Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center, Herndon-Monroe, Reston Town Center, and the Wiehle Metro station, express service is available on the Washington Flyer Silver Line Express.  The 981 and 983 services are meant to connect activity centers and transit hubs in the Reston and Herndon areas with Dulles Airport.


Joanne M. : I have a question and a comment. The first is about Route 1. Will this bus study actually lead to something being done along Route 1 in Alexandria? I have heard about lots of studies but have not seen anything major since the Rex bus and the 171 bus. The second is about a bus to the National Harbor from Huntington or Route 1. Can this bus study add a new line to National Harbor in Maryland? Thank you.

Randall White : The Comprehensive Transit Plan (CTP) will be looking at the Route 1 corridor as part of our look at the entire county's bus service needs over the next 10 years. The CTP will coordinate its work with the recommendations from the Route 1 Multimodal Alternatives Analysis, which should conclude later this fall. We can look at the possibility of adding a line between National Harbor and the Route 1 corridor.


Charlie : What are the plans to introduce real-time bus tracking?

Nicholas Perfili : As a Fairfax Connector rider myself, I am excited about the implementation of real-time bus tracking.  While an exact date is not available at this time, we are working now on preliminary design.  The Fairfax Connector system will be similar to the bus tracker system used now by the Chicago Transit Authority.


Kevin : Are there any plans to move the 924 off Sunrise Valley Drive in the evenings ?

Nicholas Perfili : Good afternoon Route 924 rider.  Thank you for riding with us.  The reason Route 924 (and route 585, 926, 929, and 985) buses travel westbound along Sunrise Valley Drive west of Wiehle Avenue is because of the design of the temporary bus lane along the eastbound Dulles Toll Road off-ramp at Wiehle.  All buses serving the bus lane on the south side of the Wiehle Metro station must turn right, or south, on to Wiehle Avenue.  Buses cannot turn left, or north, to reach the on-ramp to the westbound Dulles Toll Road.  (We wish we had the ability to turn left.)  This is why buses travel local along Sunrise Valley Drive to either Reston Parkway (585, 985) or Herndon-Monroe (924, 926, 929).  We did test travel time to Herndon-Monroe from Wiehle south utilizing a combination of Reston Parkway, the westbound Dulles Toll Road, and Fairfax County Parkway, however, the travel time savings was not there.  One option for Route 924, 926, and 929 westbound riders is to utilize Route 980 aftrernoon/evening service from Wiehle north with a transfer to 924, 926, or 929 service to continue on to destinations in the Herndon area.


Gopal : During the morning rush hour 423 is well occupied, but 424 is nearly empty all the time. 424 needs to be made less frequent, and frequency of 423 should be increased. Is anything being done on that front?

Nicholas Perfili : Hello, Gopal.  We are monitoring ridership and do know that Route 423 has attracted more riders vs. Route 424.  We have some schedule changes proposed for early this winter and, after that, plan to review bus service in central Tysons (422, 423, 424 and 493, 494, and 495) and Reston's RIBS network.  We know passengers appreciate more direct service between destinations.  In addition, we will evaluate these services as part of the county's Comprehensive Transit Plan.  Thank you for riding Fairfax Connector.


Charles F. Simmons : With the expansion and widening of 123 from the Lorton VRE area to the GMU area, When will we have Fairfax Connector Service that runs from the VRE to GMU on a daily basis. We already have places, the Workhouse Arts Center, along this corridor that would be easier to get to with regular service. There is also the plan for a large residential complex on the grounds. inside the walls, of the old Lorton Prison. In the next 10-20 years this corridor is going to see more and more development, and a need for more public transportation to keep motor vehicles off the road. This will also help Fairfax County maintain their green status. This would also help the bike riders to get from South County to the GMU area. Last, but certainly not least, the 2015 World Police and Fire Games are less then 8 months away. This is the second largest gathering of athletes from all over the world, with the exception of the of the Olympics every 4 years. This is going to put a large demand on our transportation system, here in Fairfax County and throughout the entire DC Metro area. So back to where we started. When will we start a regular Fairfax Connector Route, on the 123 corridor, from the Lorton VRE Station to GMU ? Thank you for your time and consideration. Charles F. Simmons

Randall White : The Comprehensive Transit Plan (CTP)will not be completed until the Fall of 2015, after the World Police and Fire Games are over. However, we are working with the organizers of the Games to address the transportation needs that this event will bring.
The CTP will look at the potential demand for bus service between the Lorton (or Woodbridge) VRE and GMU.
Thanks for your question!


Anonymous User : Why don't you have bus service directly from the Franconia/Springfield Metro Station to the Fairfax County Government Center?

Randall White : Thanks for your question. We’ve had a lot of input on the idea of more direct service between the south county area and the Fairfax County Government Center through the outreach we’ve been conducting this fall. There is certainly a lot of interest in such a service and a need for it, not only to the Government Center but also the Judicial Center. Right now, getting from Springfield to the Government Center requires a three seat ride: the 401/402 to Dunn Loring, Orange Line to Vienna, and then the route 621 or 623 to the Government Center.  As part of the Comprehensive Transit Plan study, we will definitely be evaluating and developing new, more direct connections throughout the county, and this will certainly be one we will consider.


MKC : Fairfax Connector 599 pick-up and drop-off location is the Reston North Park and Ride. Riders of 599 have experienced difficulty finding available parking due to Silver Line riders who have discovered that they can park there for free and walk to the metro rail. Request to change the Pick-up and drop off location from the Reston North Park/Ride to the north-side bus terminal inside the garage of the Wiehe-Reston East Metro Station. Reduce the one-way bus fare from $7.50 to $5.00. The fare reduction will offset the cost of parking $4.85 in the Metro Station garage. With the new location and bus fare there will be more ridership and revenue.

Nicholas Perfili : Good afternoon, 599 rider.  Park and ride facilities in Fairfax County are open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis.  We are considering the suggestion you made as part of a future service change.  In addition, staff are adjusting the time allotted in the schedule between Crystal City and Pentagon Station to reflect current traffic conditions improving schedule adherence.  Alternate service between Reston and the Pentagon is available on the Silver and Blue lines with a transfer at Rosslyn.


Manfred Lynch : I like to know where do I apply for a bus driving job for the Fairfax Connector? I'm unable to locate this within the website, thanks.

Nicholas Perfili : Hi Manfred.  The information you are looking for is on our website, the News and Information section, at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/news/faq.htm#12.  Thank you for your interest. 


Chantilly bus service : I would like to see weekend bus service added to the Chantilly area. The weekday service is fine, but we need a bus on the weekends. Thank you.

Nicholas Perfili : For our Centreville and Chantilly area riders, we are proposing the addition of Saturday or Saturday and Sunday service on routes 621, 630, 640, and 650 as part of our fiscal year 2016 budget.  As of now this is only a proposal, but is something we hope to see implemented in the near future to improve connections and mobility in the western portion of Fairfax County.  At present, weekend service is available today on Route 605 to the portion of Lee Jackson Memorial Highway near Greenbriar Town Center.


Kari C. : Why don't you have the longer bus routes run in a loop like the Ribs 1 and Ribs 3. Both the sme route but in different directions. Would make the 605 less of a hassle to use. Took me an hour to get to Fair Oaks mall. The route goes all over the place to Fair oaks Hospital than around to the mall then over to the Government Center. The actual drive to the mall is about 10 minutes up Reston Parkway. If the bus went in the other direction it would take me half the time.

Randall White : Thanks for your question, Kari. As a general rule, loops can be confusing to passengers because, for non-regular riders, it is difficult to know which direction to ride to get to your destination more quickly. The longer the loop, the more confusion and the greater likelihood a passenger could end up in the wrong direction for a longer time. That said, as part of the Comprehensive Transit Plan we will be looking at the boardings and alightings at stops along all of the routes, as well as origin-destination data from our on-board bus survey, so we’ll be able to evaluate specific popular patterns, such as the issue you raised on the 605, to determine if a different routing would better serve more people.


Matt : I had been told by one of your staffers back in August that "We will also be restructuring the RIBS 4 service in the near term such that afternoon/evening commute buses from Wiehle to the Bennington Woods/North Point area will travel from Wiehle without the need to transfer." I was very happy to hear about this possibility, but do you have a more specific timeline for this now?

Nicholas Perfili : Hi Matt.  Back in mid-August we implemented changes to RIBS 4 to allow buses to operate according to the existing schedule but not require passengers to transfer or layover at Reston Town Center on the trips that RIBS 4 operates to/from Wiehle.  If you have not already, please give the existing RIBS 4 another try.  Additionally, we anticipate a comprehensive evaluation of RIBS service in the coming months. 


Kevin : Thanks for the response. Why can't the 924 operate out of the North side instead. Not doing so DOUBLES my commute home. In fact if I miss the 924 I can walk over to catch the 980 and take it to Herndon and get there before the 924 usually. Not a good plan and hoping for change !!

Nicholas Perfili : We have no capacity for additional service on the north side of Wiehle at this time.  The Comprehensive Transit Plan will outline service recommendations for the start of Silver Line, Phase 2 service, which will include Metrorail service to Reston Town Center, Herndon, and Innovation Center stations along the Dulles Corridor.


Anonymous User : This may seem like a silly question, but why can't more buses cross county/city boundaries? For example, why can't a Connector bus go to the City of Alexandria or Ashburn with Fairfax County residents aboard? We live in one giant region and the boundaries are often and usually invisible.

Nicholas Perfili : Not a silly question at all.  Fairfax Connector service today does provide cross-jurisdictional service, such as service to Crystal City and Pentagon in Arlington County and also to destinations in Alexandria along Edsall Road as Route 321 and 322 buses travel between Springfield and the Van Dorn Street Metro station.  Most cross- jurisdictional service is operated by Metro as a way for the jurisdictions served to share the costs.  Right now there is Metrobus service between the county and Alexandria, Arlington, and DC. It is a little trickier to provide service between Fairfax County and Loudoun or Prince William, as Metrobus does not operate in those counties. However, as part of the Comprehensive Transit Plan Fairfax County DOT is working closely with transit staff in both Loudoun and Prince William County to ensure that we address these needs in the future. The Comprehensive Transit Plan is “operator neutral” – we’re evaluating both Fairfax Connector and Metrobus service and we’re looking to identify the most important connections that are needed and will determine the appropriate operator. 


D. Cross, 401-402 : Hello. I would like to request additional service on the route 401 and 402 buses between Springfield and Tysons Corner. I ride these buses almost every day and often board buses crowded with other riders. This is a busy bus line and should be given attention to improve the service. Thank you. D. Cross, Annandale

Randall White : Thanks for your request.
Connector planning staff are currently looking at possible schedule changes to the 401 and 402. These changes should make the schedule better reflect the time the trips actually need to operate.
The Comprehensive Transit Plan will be looking at ridership levels on all routes, including the 401 and 402. This will help us determine where we might need to add trips to address crowding issues.


Anonymous User : Now that there are the orange and silver lines, when are you going to adjust the Connector bus schedules at Vienna to better match up with the trains? Since the change, many of us are angry over the fact that the train gets in within a minute or two of the scheduled bus departure time, the bus leaves mostly empty and there's a huge line for the next one. An example of this is the 640x line leaving at 3:55pm when the next bus isn't until 4:20 and is almost ALWAYS late.

Nicholas Perfili : Sorry to hear about your missed connections at Vienna.  During rush hours, Metro does not publish schedules for the Metrorail system.  Instead, rush hour rail service is based on frequency (see http://wmata.com/rail/frequency.cfm for details).  Buses can hold for a short amount of time, generally a minute or so, however due to the number of buses that have to access bus bays at the station we cannot dwell for long periods. 


Bryan : Routes 395 offers express service to the Pentagon from Gambrill Park and Ride. The demand for parking exceeds the capacity for this lot and the police have been ticketing. Are there plans to increase the size of the lot? If not, will Route 394 increase the number of routes run to the Pentagon to accommodate this demand?

Randall White : Thanks for your question, Bryan. Fairfax County DOT is currently completing a park and ride study that evaluates demand and makes recommendations for additional facilities, so keep your eyes open for that. In the meantime, you can try picking up the 395 at the Saratoga Park and Ride. As part of the Comprehensive Transit Plan we’ve been collecting boarding and alighting data on all of the routes, including the 395 and 394, and that information, the park and ride usage information, and input from riders like you will all be used to help us determine the best way to address the Park and Ride capacity issue and help us ensure that the right level of service is out there for you.


Peggy : Will there be a bus stop on the corner of the new Jeff Todd Way and Pole Rd in Alexandria? Will there be buses to some of the Fairfax County Parks? This would be very helpful for seniors. Thank you!

Nicholas Perfili : Hello, Peggy.  Routes 151 and 159 serve the area of Pole Road and Sacramento Drive, just north of Todd Way.  If you would like future service along Jeff Todd Way, please attend one of the public workshops or provide your comments via the Comprehensive Transit Plan (CTP) website provided in the opening remarks.  Fairfax Connector and Metro buses serve a number of parks in the county.  If the park you visit does not currently have nearby transit service, please include that request to be included as part of the CTP.


christina : Why is there no bus service at the I intersection of 123 and silverbrook rd? I've lived here for 25 years. I have been unable to work for past nine years due to no bus to get to job. Family won't help me with rides and I can't afford to move without job. I'm trapped due to no bus service. I live in south run oaks.

Nicholas Perfili : Christina, I’m sorry to hear about your problem, but thank you for the suggestion. We will certainly look at the Fairfax Station area’s need for bus service as part of our analysis for the Comprehensive Transit Plan.  We encourage you, and all participants, to provide more input on this idea or any other by visiting http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/connections2015/ and submitting a comment and by completing the survey.  We will be using all of the information we receive from the public and all of the data and information we collected to inform the bus plans for the next ten years.


Randall White :

Thank you for participating in today's Ask Fairfax! online discussion about bus service in Fairfax County.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) recently launched Connections 2015 to hear directly from county residents, employees, and visitors about how to create better connections and better bus service over the next ten years. We are reaching out to the public to discuss improvements in bus service we should consider for implementation over that time.

You can participate in Connections 2015 by attending one of two remaining public workshops for our initial round of outreach. Tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 9 we will be at Chantilly Public Library, 4000 Stringfellow Road in Chantilly. In addition, our final workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014 at Mt. Eagle Elementary School, 616 N. Kings Hwy, Alexandria. Both workshops will run from 6 to 8 p.m.

FCDOT has a website and an online survey available at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/connections2015/, which includes additional information about the county's Comprehensive Transportation Plan. For more information or if you have questions about Connections 2015, please visit us online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/connections2015/.

Thanks, and have a great day!