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Fairfax Connector Proposal Breakdown: Vienna/Tysons

February 3, 2013
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Church St Vienna, Virginia. Click to enlarge

As part of our hope to help summarize the changes being proposed by Fairfax County for the Connector service around Tysons we are continuing our look in advance of Monday’s public session about Vienna. If you missed the announcement by Fairfax County, Fairfax County Connector will be holding 2 weeks of public opinion sessions on the new realignment and routes associated with the opening of the Silver Line Phase 1. If you want better transit availability and a more coherent network for the next 4 years you need to come out and put your opinion on the record. This is your chance to affect real change (I am talking to you Millenials who want stronger towns and walkable communities).


432 Service, click to enlarge

I support providing service to areas of Vienna which will not be able to access the new Silver Line metro stations without driving. It is one way of reducing traffic on the few road links between Tysons and Vienna. The 432 bus route attempts to do just that but it has some flaws. Firstly, any route that involves Route 7 will be subject to major congestion and delays during the very hours of highest demand.

It currently takes about 15 minutes to get from Towlston Road and Spring Hill Station, a distance that could be traverse on bike in 10 minutes if there were decent facilities. By the time the bus gets to Old Courthouse Road, where a greater density of residents live, it will have taken 30 to 40 minutes from Spring Hill Station, and therefore it would not make sense for someone in this part of Vienna to use this bus.

For this system to be the most effective, and enable improvement to people’s commutes (the only reason why people would change modal behavior) it should be routed via 267 to Trap Road. Then provide a turnaround at Wolf Trap in order to have the bus redirect back to 267. This will provide 10 minute access to the Silver Line Station, a duration that will provide real service to residents. Residents south of Wolf Trap should then be served via a different bus system which is routed via Gosnell to the Silver Line without needing to run on Route 7 or Route 123.


461 Service, click to enlarge

The 461 bus route effectively will serve as a circulator for travel internal to Vienna and ultimately routed to the Orange Line Metro. The system serves some of the density residential portions of Vienna as well as providing access to central retail and restaurant destinations along Maple Avenue. The route is proposed to run rush hour service only on weekdays with 30 minute headways.

This route is great. Vienna has always had an affinity toward strong town design, sidewalk access, and multimodal consideration. This system should encourage the avoidance of traffic along Maple Avenue during rush hour for Vienna residents by giving them a different option for their commute.

Unfortunately the hours of this service are far too minimal. There are more residents in Vienna than in Tysons, there are just as many great restaurants, music venues, and shops. Vienna deserves a circulator that serves more than just rush hour. This route might not make sense for late night service but dinner time service might be appropriate considering parking near Maple Avenue, Park, and Church street is very difficult to find most evenings.


463 Service, click to enlarge

For a long time we have berated Fairfax Connector and WMATA for the complete lack of connectivity between Tysons and Vienna via Route 123. Traffic has continued to become a more serious problem for productivity lost and for the health of residents in Vienna. Our complaints may have finally received a response with the 463 service, which we think is one of the most important improvements to the Fairfax Connector service proposal.

The bus connects the Orange Line from the Vienna Station to the Silver Line at Tysons Metro. It is route through downtown Vienna along Maple Avenue and will provide an option for thousands to access Tysons and the Silver Line. It is proposed as a 7-day service with significant night time hours.

The route is perfect, the number of buses being provided for it are not. With as much congestion as is experienced on Maple Avenue, the fact that this connects the orange line to the silver, and the thousands of people who live in Vienna you would think that 30 minute headways would not be acceptable. This is one of the most congested corridors in Northern Virginia, let alone the Tysons area, and it needs as many buses as can be provided to reduce the amount of cars on Maple Avenue.

Beyond the need to make rush hour service more robust we think Fairfax is missing an opportunity to make the Maple Avenue corridor the U-Street of NOVA. Between Tysons and Vienna there are several dozen restaurants, a dozen late night bars, two major music venues, and hundreds of retail stores. What better way to create a strong retail community and help the small businesses who don’t benefit from car traffic in commute to western suburbs.

There are many ways to make other lesser priority routes more efficient, but this route needs the full backing of Fairfax County if we want real improvement to our congestion problems. Let’s take overlapping WMATA service which costs us millions of dollars on the 15M and 2T, and replace it with one consistent and effective Fairfax Connector route.

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3 Responses to Fairfax Connector Proposal Breakdown: Vienna/Tysons

  1. TeganAnn on February 6, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Are they taking comments via email or social media? The time frame for the events doesn’t fit in with my schedule and without reliable transit are next to impossible to get too.

    • Tysons Engineer on February 6, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      They are taking comments via email and I believe you can fill out the official form on their website also.

      • TeganAnn on February 6, 2013 at 2:39 pm

        Done and done, thanks.

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