|The Seven Corners bus transit center on Arlington Boulevard.|
FCDOT is soliciting feedback from the public through a series of six workshops throughout the county over the next few weeks as part of its Connections 2015 outreach effort. At the first session, FCDOT planners and consultants brought maps and data to George Mason Regional Library in Annandale Sept. 15 for one-on-one dialogues with residents. The next meeting is Sept. 18 at Lynbrook Elementary School on Backlick Road in Springfield.
The outreach effort also includes online surveys and “pop-up” feedback sessions at various locations around the county, including one at the Seven Corners transit center Sept. 30, 4-6 p.m..
FCDOT wants to know which bus routes need higher frequency, whether bus service should start earlier in the morning or end later on weekends, which routes should be realigned or changed, and whether bus service should be extended into new areas.
Recommendations from the public, along with analyses of population and workforce trends, will inform the county’s next 10-year plan for improved bus service. Draft recommendations will be released for public comment in spring 2015.
So far, Randall White Jr., a transportation planner with FCDOT says he’s heard from some people who want better bus service to Metro stations, while others want more mid-day bus routes so they get can to stores and doctor appointments.
“We don’t have unlimited money and unlimited buses, so eventually we’ll get to the point where we’ll have to say if you want more service in one area, we’ll have to cut bus service elsewhere,” White said. “We’re not at that point yet.”
“Very few routes pay for themselves,” he noted, so governments subsidize bus systems. Only 20 to 25 percent of the cost of the Fairfax Connector system is supported by bus riders. Metrobus has a slightly higher percentage of its cost supported by fares as it has more heavily used routes.
It costs $1.75 to ride non-express Metrobus and Connector buses and $4 for express routes. If you use a SmarTrip farecard, you can transfer to another route at no charge. You can get a 50-cent discount if you use a smart card on a bus and transfer to Metro rail – or transfer from rail to a bus.
Seniors (age 65 or older) and people with disabilities can get a special SmarTrip allowing them to ride the bus for 85 cents.
Bus routes serving the Annandale/Mason area include the 16 Metro bus lines (connecting the Pentagon to the apartments on Patriot Drive and Americana Drive by way of Columbia Pike and John Marr Drive), the 28A route (along Route 7 between the Tysons Corner and King Street Metro stations), the 7 Metro bus routes (connecting the Pentagon, Mark Center, and Landmark area), and the 401 and 402 Connector service (from the Franconia-Springfield Metro station, along Backlick Road, Annandale Road, Hummer Road, and Gallows Road to Tysons).
There are some temporary changes effective Sept. 15 to the northbound Gallows Road stops on the 401 route due to construction.