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.