Fairfax plans to revamp bus service in Tysons, adding connections from other parts of the county and a new Circulator bus system, to coincide with this year’s projected Metro Silver Line opening. County officials see better and more bus options, alongside the rail service, as a first step toward acclimating residents to more use of public transit.The focus on Tysons, not just in this article but in County leadership thinking--BOS Chairman Bulova thinks a new bus line linking Burke with Tysons "is really exciting" and "a big deal"--reflects the continuing lack of attention by County leaders to addressing Reston's Metro-related transportation needs.
The Silver Line opening at Reston East/Wiehle Avenue station will happen at the same time as the stations open in Tysons, yet County plans for bus service, enhanced or otherwise, in Reston remain in a preliminary state at best--and there are no commitments. Some Restonians, looking at the information publicly available, have indicated that the proposed bus routes within Reston will actually provide poorer bus service than that already provided. And bus service to the Wiehle Metro stop will be even more important than bus service in Tysons in the short term because it will be the western terminus for the Silver Line for several years the principal point of embarkation/debarkation. Moreover, the transit station sits in the middle of the Dulles corridor at one of Reston's busiest toll road access points along an already congested Wiehle Avenue.
How Restonians will navigate this area has not been addressed well by County officials yet despite a serious analysis and recommendations on the topic by RMAG five years ago--and time is running out. None of the report's many excellent recommendations for improving all kinds of access to the station has yet been implemented fully, not even even simple crosswalk improvements. And the fixes proposed by RMAG were relatively inexpensive--$105 million in total compared with the $5 billion already committed to Tysons. The bus transit questions that remain concern whether County leaders will (a) provide reliable, frequent, easily accessible bus service for Restonians to the Metro station, (b) minimize the traffic impact of buses arriving from outside the community, (c) enable safe pedestrian and bicycle access to the station area, and (d) ease the traffic congestion created by those who drive to the station or the toll road access there.
The good news is that it appears the facilities to handle additional buses will be in place on time. The question remains whether County leadership will once again drop the ball in providing adequate bus transit for Restonians and others who want to take the Silver Line from Wiehle station.
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