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Fairfax approves bus service plan for Silver Line

Wednesday - 6/5/2013, 6:42am  ET

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A plan to rework the Fairfax Connector was approved Tuesday at a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting. (WTOP/Ari Ashe)

VIENNA, Va. - The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a plan to rework the Fairfax Connector bus network to serve Metro's new Silver Line when it opens later this year.

"Between now and December, we'll be working on the bus schedules and getting that information out to the various communities," said Fairfax County Transportation Director Tom Biesiadny. "At the same time, behind the scenes, we're going to be hiring drivers and training drivers on the routes they'll be driving."

The plan calls for 41 new or revised routes connecting Vienna, Merrifield, Herndon, McLean, Reston and Tysons Corner to the five new Silver Line stations opening in Phase 1 of the Metro extension.

One of the remaining outstanding questions revolves around Fairfax Connector Route 432. It would connect commuters to the future Spring Hill Metro station.

Four options are on the board, but at a packed meeting Tuesday evening, no consensus was reached. Biesiadny told the audience a final decision will be made in late July and it's likely some residents will be unhappy with the choice.

Most residents seem to agree the Fairfax Connector and Silver Line need to make transit a viable alternative to cars.

Jack Crosby, who lives near Wolf Trap, is confident everyone can benefit.

"The traffic on Route 7 is a mess. About 45,000 cars per day use Route 7. That's a very large number and even widening it, it'll still be heavily trafficked. But buses and Metro service can take some cars off the road," he says.

Anna Lueje with the Greater Tysons Green Civic Association agrees with Crosby.

"It's going to take cars off the road. It's going to reduce congestion. It'll reduce pollution," she says. "Our residents don't want to be in gridlock in the car all the time. We want good access to transit options."

"It makes it more possible to move around our area. It prevents people from saying they won't go to some event, or go to a professional sporting event in downtown D.C. or not see a show because the access is there."

But Frank Torre says he thinks some Fairfax County residents need a better perspective.

"I work as a civil engineer and work on projects throughout the metropolitan area and I must tell you that traffic in many parts of Montgomery and Prince George's County, Maryland, are much worse than here. Even parts of Prince William have a lot more serious problems than Vienna," says Torre.

Carol Laird is uneasy with all the changes since she moved to her current home in 1987, pointing to urban sprawl around Vienna.

"We bought our home because it was secluded. We knew everyone in Vienna. We had small town pride," she says. "But now the development of the rail system, while it's good in some ways, is really being seen with more traffic in our neighborhood."

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is expected to hand over the Silver Line to Metro in late summer, with plans for service to begin in late December.

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