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Ask GGW: How long will trips take on the Silver Line?

In a few months, Metro's new Silver Line will open, and will mean major changes to commuters in Fairfax County. Reader Nick G. wants to know how long trips on the Silver Line will take.


Photo by Fairfax County on Flickr.

Right now, commuters to and from Reston and Herndon often rely on a set of commuter buses that run express down the Dulles Toll Road to West Falls Church station. After the Silver Line opens, most of these buses will feed riders into the Silver Line instead of running all the way to meet the Orange Line at I-66.

But the Silver Line takes the scenic route through Tysons Corner instead of staying on the freeway. The 4 stops in Tysons will serve many of the offices and shopping centers in the business district, but they will also add time for riders merely passing through. How much? It looks like just a few minutes.

One of Nick's questions is whether his trip from DC to Reston will get longer with the Silver Line. That will probably depend a lot on each individual commute, since people have different starting and ending points.

To get a sense of Nick's commute, I looked at a commute from Metro Center to Reston Town Center using the Orange Line and the 505 Fairfax Connector bus. It takes 21 minutes to get from Metro Center to West Falls Church. Once on the 505, it takes 15 minutes to get to the Sunset Hills Park and Ride, near the Wiehle Avenue station. That's a trip time of 36 minutes.

On the Silver Line, the ride from Metro Center to Wiehle Avenue is 40 minutes. That's a little bit longer. If Fairfax reallocates some of those buses no longer used for commuter service, transit riders might save time by having shorter transfer times at Wiehle Avenue or at the Tysons stations. Fairfax County DOT has posted their bus operating plans that will go into effect once the Silver Line opens.


Graphic by the author.

The above graphic should help you figure out how your commute will compare.

The numbers in orange under each station's name give the travel time to East Falls Church. Rosslyn, Metro Center, and L'Enfant Plaza are also shown. To get the travel time from Tysons Corner to Rosslyn, you'll have to add the numbers. In that example, it will take 10 minutes to get from Tysons Corner to East Falls Church and another 12 minutes to get to Rosslyn (that's 22 minutes).

If your station isn't included, you can use Metro's trip planner to find the travel time between it and East Falls Church.

The blue numbers on the left side of the graphic show the travel time between each station. It will take 9 minutes for the train to travel between Wiehle Avenue and Spring Hill, for example.

Metro hasn't yet released a schedule for the line. So we can't get too detailed about how long a trip will last, or how long transfers will be. But the travel time data in the graphic should give you a sense of how long your ride on the Silver Line will take.

Edit: Note, these data are courtesy of Nick Perfili at Fairfax County DOT.

Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master's in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Greenbelt. Hes a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Planning Department. His views are his own and do not represent the opinion of his employer. 

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8 minutes from McLean to EFC? 9 minutes from Whiehle to Spring Hill? Wow.

Anybody know if these are two of the longest stretches (time and/or distance-wise) of the Metrorail system without a stop?

by ImThat1Guy on Aug 16, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

WMATA's website lists 6 min between Franconia-Sprinfield and Van Dorn.

by Alex B. on Aug 16, 2013 10:39 am • linkreport

@Im
King St. to Van Dorn St. is longer. It feels interminable when you are on it.

I had to laugh when a GGW commenter suggested that the usual 2 minute average between stops would apply to the Silver Line. I guess it goes to show that many people lack an intuitive sense of geography. I suggested it would be at least 3 and this shows it would be more like 4.

by movement on Aug 16, 2013 10:44 am • linkreport

At what speed will the train be going during those 8 and 9 minute stretches?

Anything under 55mph would be a disaster.

by JJJJJJ on Aug 16, 2013 10:47 am • linkreport

What about the transfer time from WFC to the 505? I could easily see losing that 4 minute advantage exiting the metro, walking down the stairs, and waiting for the 505 to depart.

What about the 30 min headways on the 505 vs the silver line headways?

It may be less time moving on transit, but I'm curious if on average his door to door time would be shorter on the silver line.

by Shawn G on Aug 16, 2013 10:48 am • linkreport

King St. to Van Dorn St. is longer.

WMATA's fare chart/travel time table lists that as 5 minutes. They might have some schedule padding built into the Van Dorn-Franconia time.

by Alex B. on Aug 16, 2013 10:53 am • linkreport

@Shawn G:

You are correct, but only if he works at Wiehle Ave. But what if, say, he works at Plazamerica, further down the 505 route in Reston? Under the current system, he has one transfer at West Falls Church to get from the Metro onto the 505. Under the new system, he still has a transfer at Wiehle Ave to get from the Metro onto whatever the new bus will be. So the fact that the pure transit time from Metro Center to Wiehle Ave is 4 minutes longer means that his commute will in fact be 4 minutes longer

Furthermore, I don't think that the reduced headways will make much difference; as I do this reverse commute myself, I know exactly which Orange Line train to take from McPherson in the morning so as to minimize my waiting time at West Falls Church.

by rock_n_rent on Aug 16, 2013 10:57 am • linkreport

For ImThat1Guy: Yes, those are the longest links, both about 6-7 miles.

Unfortunately, while this shows planned travel times between stations, it makes no allowance for boarding times in stations--about 2 minutes each for Tysons 4 stations. So please add 8 minutes to the time from Wiehle to EFC--a total of about 29 minutes. The same arithmetic applies beyond EFC where there are 11 Metro stations before you reach L'Enfant Plaza--another 22 minutes.

Travel time = 45 minutes
Boarding time = 30 minutes
Total time = 1 hour, 15 minutes

Moreover, this article also does not address the near doubling of time between trains because the Orange & Silver and some Blue line trains all have to squeeze through the Rosslyn tunnel. In fact, service on the Orange and Blue lines will suffer because of the addition of the Silver Line. It's a zero sum game through the tunnel.

Don't try to fool yourself--or others--travel time to downtown on the Silver Line from Wiehle will take an hour-plus under near optimal conditions--forget trains going out of service, track condition problems, and weather considerations.

Also, add at least a half-dozen minutes to allow for the next train to arrive at Wiehle.

by Terry on Aug 16, 2013 11:00 am • linkreport

seconding Shawn G, the 36 minute estimate for Orange/bus is totally not realistic.

by MicahD on Aug 16, 2013 11:00 am • linkreport

8 minutes sounds a bit on the high side for EFC to McLean, when EFC to WFC is 3+ minutes. However, there are two longish elevated curving flyovers to navigate which the train have to take at slower speeds.

Spring Hill to Wiehle Ave-Reston East will be a long run between stations with a lot of green scenery and concrete roads to look at. The trains should run at max speed in the Access Road median between Wiehle Ave and the flyover to Rt. 7, but we will see what that max allowed speed is. Perhaps Sand Box John knows what the planned speed is for that segment.

by AlanF on Aug 16, 2013 11:01 am • linkreport

@Shawn
If you live within walking distance (or maybe biking distance) of the Silver Line you will be better off. However, those residences only account for a small fraction of homes in the region. I think what people fail to realize is that today many Reston/Herndon commuters park at a local park-and-ride and take a bus directly to their destination. When the bus option is removed, these folks will drive instead of park-and-ride/bus/Metro. (Admittedly, some will bike to the Silver Line instead.) The overall effect is to make it easier to get downtown but harder to get around within the region.

by movement on Aug 16, 2013 11:04 am • linkreport

@Alex B.:
Where on the website did you see that? Did you have to go in and plug it in to the trip planner, or is there a master list of statopm distances?

@JJJJJJ:
7000 series cars are rated at 75mph maximum operating speed, with acceleration of somewhere between .75mph/s and 2.8mph/s, so a train could easily get up to speed. Though, between Wiehle and Spring Hill is only 5.75 miles or so, meaning if it does take 9 minutes the average speed between them is only ~40mph. Luckily the above numbers are just estimates... right guys?

by ImThat1Guy on Aug 16, 2013 11:04 am • linkreport

Unfortunately, while this shows planned travel times between stations, it makes no allowance for boarding times in stations--about 2 minutes each for Tysons 4 stations.

Train dwell times at stations will not be anywhere close to two minutes.

Right now, Metro trains will dwell twenty seconds or less at most stations; you'll see longer dwells of 30-45 seconds at busier transfer stations. Nowhere do you see 120 seconds unless there is some sort of disruption or schedule adjustment.

Also, the numbers provided above already take that dwell time into account.

by Alex B. on Aug 16, 2013 11:05 am • linkreport

Also between EFC and McLean is ~4.7mi, and if that takes 8 minutes that's only 35mph. :/ Granted there are two large curving flyovers, but I have to think that its actual speed will be higher.

by ImThat1Guy on Aug 16, 2013 11:08 am • linkreport

Where on the website did you see that? Did you have to go in and plug it in to the trip planner, or is there a master list of statopm distances?

Go to http://www.wmata.com/rail/stations.cfm

Select the station you would like to look at. In this case, let's pick Van Dorn: http://www.wmata.com/rail/station_detail.cfm?station_id=94

Scroll down the page, and click the 'get fares' button for all other stations. This gives you a table with the fare and travel time from Van Dorn street to all other stations. From that, you can find the scheduled time to Franconia and to King Street.

Since we're only talking about one-station distances, you don't have to worry about the assumptions built in for transfer time; this is the scheduled travel time. As I noted in a comment above, it likely does include some sort of schedule padding, but it's a fine estimate.

by Alex B. on Aug 16, 2013 11:09 am • linkreport

and this is why the silver line should be commuter rail with fewer stops and not a metro line!

At 28 miles long, the silver line will end u being among the longest subway line in the US- perhaps only 2nd to NYC's A train at 31 miles. I'd rather "take the A train to go to Sugar Hill way up in Harlem" than to a shopping mall in Tyson's Corner! :-)

by Tom A. on Aug 16, 2013 11:10 am • linkreport

It takes 21 minutes to get from Metro Center to West Falls Church. Once on the 505, it takes 15 minutes to get to the Sunset Hills Park and Ride, near the Wiehle Avenue station. That's a trip time of 36 minutes.

This is a perfect example of what's wrong with transit planners. Of course the trip time is not 36 minutes. You do not get magically moved from the train into a bus in zero time. Getting out of the station takes on average 4-5 minutes. And buses do not magically leave exactly when people come out of the station. The 505 happens to be a high-frequency but that actually does leave about every five to ten minutes, but that is not the case for most Fairfax Connectors.

Nevertheless, a realistic time for this trip would be:
4 minutes getting into Metro Center
3 minutes waiting for the Orange Line
21 minutes on the train
4 minutes getting out of the station to the bus stop
5 minutes waiting for the bus (you always just miss the bus)
15 minutes on the bus
----
52 minutes total. And 5 minutes longer than the single-seat metro ride of 47 minutes (including the decent into Metro Center and the wait for the train).

@ImThat1Guy:Anybody know if these are two of the longest stretches (time and/or distance-wise) of the Metrorail system without a stop?

Reagan - Braddock Rd is the longest distance without a stop.
King St - Van Dorn can take forever because you sometimes have to wait for a track change, or a personnel change at the metro yard there.
Van Dorn - Franconia takes about 5 minutes, but can seem longer because you often have to wait for a train leaving the station.

At what speed will the train be going during those 8 and 9 minute stretches?

Metro nearly always hits 55 mph between stops, unless they're stuck behind another train.

by Jasper on Aug 16, 2013 11:10 am • linkreport

I do this reverse commute from Waterfront out to Wiehle Ave, at least until next week when I'm moving to a firm located at Metro Center. (yay!) In my opinion, the worst part about the 505 route is the long headway between buses. If you end up missing your connection at WFC for whatever reason, you end up extending your commute for an extra 30 minutes. Conversely I can't just leave the office in the evening whenever I want, because the 505 is only coming once every half hour. Fairfax County needs to shorten the headway on the bus routes significantly once the Wiehle Avenue station opens to best leverage the increased transit service on the Silver Line.

by merarch on Aug 16, 2013 11:14 am • linkreport

Regarding the Orange + Bus time, I should have been clearer.

Let's say it takes 21 minutes from Metro Center to WFC on the Orange Line and 15 minutes on the 505. That's 36 minutes.

Now, you can't actually do that in 36 minutes, because there's a transfer to bus involved. So you have walking time to the bus loop plus wait time for the 505.

However, if you're transferring to bus at Wiehle Avenue, you'd encounter the same issues. A walk to transfer plus wait time. I didn't include those in the estimate because it's not clear how much time to allocate.

And based on how Fairfax Connector implements schedules, it might be less (or greater).

So for example, let's say Fairfax needs 6 buses to operate the 505 at 30 minute headways now. If cutting out the express portion on the Dulles Toll Road lowers the vehicle requirement to 3 buses, it's possible that Fairfax could run the 505 every 15 minutes instead.

That would lower the average wait time for transferring riders.

So I didn't include that transfer time for either Orange + Bus or Silver + Bus. Just the moving time, since that's what's easily comprable.

by Matt Johnson on Aug 16, 2013 11:15 am • linkreport

Matt, I think some of the math is a little off here. The trip planner and the FFC schedule say it takes 20-24 minutes for the 505 to get from WFC to the park & ride. The trip planner estimates 51 minutes for this trip, including a 6-minute transfer.

@Terry
Unfortunately, while this shows planned travel times between stations, it makes no allowance for boarding times in stations--about 2 minutes each for Tysons 4 stations. So please add 8 minutes to the time from Wiehle to EFC--a total of about 29 minutes. The same arithmetic applies beyond EFC where there are 11 Metro stations before you reach L'Enfant Plaza--another 22 minutes.

Get a stopwatch - two minutes is a LONG time for a train to be sitting in a station. Also this is not how you add up times; you are WAY overestimating.

by MLD on Aug 16, 2013 11:16 am • linkreport

@Tom A:

No. After Phase 1 has been opened, it'll be 24mi long, shorter than every Metro line but the Yellow. Even when it's fully opened, the Blue and Red will both be longer. Seoul, Guangzhou, Beijing, and I'm sure several others all have longer lines as well.

by ImThat1Guy on Aug 16, 2013 11:18 am • linkreport

The good news about the long distances between Wiehle and Spring Hill, and EFC and McLean, is that you'll be above ground, with cell service, and if you call with an emergency, there's actually time for transit police and WMATA to respond by the time you get to the next stop.

by Bitter Brew on Aug 16, 2013 11:20 am • linkreport

I love that everything is DC based here.

Tysons has 115,000 jobs if no one noticed, and there is currently a reverse commute problem on I-66 between Arlington and Tysons where all the Arlington residents are driving out to Tysons.

To say its a "shopping mall" is so ignorant it boggles my mind.

It is to say that DC is just a bunch of monuments.

by Navid Roshan on Aug 16, 2013 11:34 am • linkreport

Someone asked about speed - I believe Metro sticks to 55 and under to save on electricity usage, preserve the brakes and increase the longevity of the railcar body.

by JDC Esq on Aug 16, 2013 11:35 am • linkreport

@ Matt:Now, you can't actually do that in 36 minutes, because there's a transfer to bus involved. So you have walking time to the bus loop plus wait time for the 505.

However, if you're transferring to bus at Wiehle Avenue, you'd encounter the same issues.

True. But the problem is that transit officials never acknowledge this and claim that a trip is only 'few' minutes while ignoring many steps. The problem is that people, who might be enticed to use transit by the short travel period, invariably end up being disappointed by the real travel time.

Recently, I sat next to a dude trying out the bus home from the metro for the first time. He was complaining about the wait between the metro arrival and the bus leaving, as well as over the bus travel time - the route is very circuitous. I explained him that it takes a bit of time to figure out how you can time your departure from work with getting to the final metro station just so that you minimize your waiting for the bus, just like you have to figure out the best way (and time) to drive to work. Also, that delays on the train or bus are comparable to traffic jams.

He had never thought about it that way. Nevertheless, I only see him rarely. Now, his schedule may be a bit off mine, but generally, I think his prejudices are shared among many.

Transit officials (and you are not in that group) touting overly optimistic travel times are not helping their cause.

by Jasper on Aug 16, 2013 11:36 am • linkreport

"I love that everything is DC based here."

1. Its a long discussion of the Silver Line

2. While there is discussion of time between Wiehle and Metro Center, the same time considerations hold between Rosslyn and Wiehle, do they not?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 16, 2013 11:37 am • linkreport

"But the problem is that transit officials never acknowledge this "

https://www.google.com/#bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&fp=1af70e12f74a2e98&q=transit+transfer+impedance

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 16, 2013 11:38 am • linkreport

@Matt Johnson
I can see what you are going for with the moving times, but that's like comparing a 6 hr. direct flight from JFK-LAX with a 5 hr. flight that has a 3 hour layover in Chicago. I think people are most concerned about what time they leave and when they arrive.

by Shawn G on Aug 16, 2013 11:42 am • linkreport

@ImThat1Guy, you may want to recheck your 24 mile number for the distance of the Silver Line Phase 1 from Wiehle Ave to Largo MD. Phase 1 is 11.5 miles from the branch off of the Orange Line east of West Falls Church; add that to the Silver/Orange merge to Largo MD distance.

But I have no problem with it being a long Metro line. it will serve multiple overlapping destination clusters with Dulles, Herndon/Reston, Tysons, Ballston-Rosslyn, downtown DC, federal district, east of DC.

by AlanF on Aug 16, 2013 12:03 pm • linkreport

I can see what you are going for with the moving times, but that's like comparing a 6 hr. direct flight from JFK-LAX with a 5 hr. flight that has a 3 hour layover in Chicago. I think people are most concerned about what time they leave and when they arrive.

Matt stripped out waiting/transfer times that should be about equal in both scenarios. We can't know exactly what average waits will be like for the future service since there is no schedule yet. Nevertheless, that's not the same as just stripping out transfer time from one scenario and not the other.

by MLD on Aug 16, 2013 12:07 pm • linkreport

@Alan F I got the numbers from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Line_%28Washington_Metro%29). So, sorry about that.

by ImThat1Guy on Aug 16, 2013 12:07 pm • linkreport

@Shawn G.
No, it's like comparing a 5 hour flight from JFK to LAX that has a 3 hour layover in Cleveland to a 5 hour flight from JFK to LAX that has a 3 hour layover in Cincinnati.

Both the Orange + layover + 505 Bus and Silver + layover + 505 Bus have had their layovers removed.

by Matt Johnson on Aug 16, 2013 12:33 pm • linkreport

yeah, but everything is so much better in Cincinnati.

by guest1 on Aug 16, 2013 12:48 pm • linkreport

Per the Fairfax Connector service plan, route 505 will start running every 20 minutes vs. every 30 minutes currently, and Dulles route 981 will also offer service from Reston-Wiehle to RTC every 20 minutes. Four half-hourly RIBS routes will also run between Wiehle and RTC, one of which (RIBS 4, North Point) will make a direct trip. So, that's 8 buses/hour traveling Wiehle-RTC direct, vs. 2 buses/hour from WFC-RTC.

Any potential travel time penalty from losing the Dulles Access Road express route will probably be recouped with more frequent service throughout the day, rather than just at those magical moments when the Orange Line + 505 happen to intersect, and better reliability from not dealing with traffic on 267.

by Payton on Aug 16, 2013 12:51 pm • linkreport

@ Matt:No, it's like comparing a 5 hour flight from JFK to LAX that has a 3 hour layover in Cleveland to a 5 hour flight from JFK to LAX that has a 3 hour layover in Cincinnati.

guest1:+1

The problem is not where the three hour delay is, but that it was ignored in the total travel time.

by Jasper on Aug 16, 2013 1:08 pm • linkreport

@ImThat1Guy
WMATA Metrorail N, K, C, D and G Routes Silver Line Distances
Ryan Road (VA-277) Ashburn - Largo Town Center
Ft
Km
Mi
Total Length 229,717 70.017 37.806
Station
Chaining
Distance Between
Ryan Road (VA-277) Ashburn 1671+17.00
10,346 3.153 1.702
Morgan Road (VA 606) 1567+71.00
26,214 7.990 4.964
Dulles Airport 1408+57.00
11,091 3.380 2.100
Innovation Center 1297+66.00
8,969 2.733 1.698
Herndon Monrow 1207+97.00
7,167 2.184 1.357
Reston Town Center 1136+30.00
5,962 1.817 0.981
Wiehle-Reston East 1076+68.00
30,857 9.405 5.844
Spring Hill Road 768+11.00
3,634 1.107 0.688
Greenboro 731+77.00
3,942 1.201 0.746
Tysons Corner 692+35.00
3,400 1.036 0.643
McLean 658+35.00
24,631 7.507 4.664
East Falls Church 412+04.00
13,149 4.007 2.490
Ballston 280+55.00
2,974 0.906 0.563
Virginia Square 250+81.00
2,472 0.753 0.468
Clarendon 226+09.00
2,686 0.818 0.508
Court House 199+23.00
5,748 1.751 1.088
Rosslyn 141+75.00
7,058 2.151 1.336
Foggy Bottom 071+17.00
2,766 0.843 0.523
Farragut West 043+51.00
2,001 0.609 0.378
Mcpherson Square 023+50.00
2,425 0.739 0.459
Metro Center 000+75.00C
1,561 0.475 0.295
Federal Triangle 016+36.00
1,977 0.614 0.381
Smithsonian 036+52.00
2,644 0.836 0.519
L'Enfant Plaza 062+96.00
1,756 0.535 0.332
Federal Center SW 080+52.00
3,052 0.930 0.578
Capitol South 111+04.00
2,703 0.823 0.511
Eastern Market 138+07.00
3,289 1.002 0.622
Potomac Avenue 170+96.00
3,750 2.145 1.333
Stadium-Armory 208+46.00
13,395 4.082 2.536
Benning Road 342+41.00
7,779 2.371 1.473
Capitol Heights Heights 420+20.00
5,215 1.589 0.987
Addison Road 472+35.00
8,165 2.488 1.546
Morgan Boulevard 554+00.00
7,200 2.194 1.363
Largo Town Center 626+00.00

I have created tables for the 5 other lines as well.

by Sand Box John on Aug 16, 2013 1:44 pm • linkreport

Some people's commutes are going to be longer, some are going to be shorter. You cannot make such a major system and ensure that everyone sees an improvement.

by Richard B on Aug 16, 2013 1:45 pm • linkreport

@Jasper:
Why?

Nick asked whether his trip will be longer. If we assume the wait time will not change, since we have no reason to assume that, then what the hell does it matter?

If we add 21 + 5 + 15 and get 41 and compare that to 40 + 5 = 45, that's a difference of *4* minutes.

Now, if instead we delete the 5 minute wait time from both, we get ... wait for it ... a difference of *4* minutes.

The transfer time is something that I can't control for. I assumed that it would be the same. In practice, it will likely be less, because as Payton mentioned above, the 505 will run more frequently.

So if you just miss a bus, instead of having a 30 minute penalty, you'll have a 20 minute penalty. And even when we add the 4 minutes longer travel time, we find that 24 is still less than 30, so on average, riders will probably be better off.

I also didn't count the additional time to ride the 505 bus past the Sunset Hills P+R. I don't know where Nick lives or works. Only that he lives in DC and works in Reston. He might not even take the 505 it was just an example.

I didn't count the time it takes him to walk to the Metro. He might have a commute on the Red Line, for all I know. I didn't include that. Therefore my analysis is fatally flawed.

If you can do a better job, write a post and submit it to info @ggwash.org.

However, despite the apparent fatal flaw, the *difference in trip time*, which is what I'm attempting to identify, remains the same.

by Matt Johnson on Aug 16, 2013 1:46 pm • linkreport

All distances are measured from center of platform
Total distance is measured from outbound end of platform to outbound end of platform.

by Sand Box John on Aug 16, 2013 1:47 pm • linkreport

There seems to be some confusion over the purpose of discussing travel times. Matt Johnson was using them to illustrate how times would change when the silver line opens. For that, the difference in times is all that matters, not the accuracy of the times themselves if they are all inaccurate in the same method - which they are, by both stripping out the "from metro station to bus" part of the time. Some readers/commenters seem to want actual true travel times - this is a different question, and one that is fairly difficult to answer. The original post isn't concerned with finding *actual* travel times, just *changes* in travel times.

by Matt on Aug 16, 2013 2:04 pm • linkreport

@Jasper:
I'm waiting. Have you answered your question yet?

Here let me make sure the question is clear.

Nick G commutes from a residential unit somewhere in the District of Columbia to a place of employment somewhere in the "Reston" area.

Today, he takes the Orange Line to West Falls Church and then a bus.

In the future, he'll have to take the Silver Line to Wiehle Avenue and then a bus.

Now, part 1: How long is his trip today?
Part 2: How long will his trip be after the Silver Line opens.

Cat got your tongue?

by Matt Johnson on Aug 16, 2013 2:10 pm • linkreport

@ Matt: We're lightly talking alongside of each other.

You are interested in the time difference between the two alternate trips. In your calculation you calculate the total travel time by only looking at the different legs, ignoring identical steps in the process. This yields the correct time difference between the two trips. So far no objection. However, by ignoring a few steps, your total trip time is unrealistically short - since your ignoring several steps.

I was just asking for you to include that time, so people won't get the false impression that you can get from Reston to Metro Center in 36 minutes using transit. That can't be too much for a website that has had endless (and correct) debates about the linguistic accuracy of the headline 'Biker hurt in car accident', pointing out that it was neither an accident, but rather a crash, as well as that the bike didn't collide with the driver either.

Oh, and my sincere apologies for not keeping an eye on GGW for a full 24 minutes, and taking another whopping 13 minutes to write this reply.

by Jasper on Aug 16, 2013 2:24 pm • linkreport

@Jasper:
You did not answer the question.

by Matt Johnson on Aug 16, 2013 2:29 pm • linkreport

However, by ignoring a few steps, your total trip time is unrealistically short - since your ignoring several steps.

Which is irrelevant to the initial question!

It's not unrealistically short if the purpose of the exercise was not to estimate the realistic journey time.

I was just asking for you to include that time, so people won't get the false impression that you can get from Reston to Metro Center in 36 minutes using transit.

And, the answer is: 36 minutes plus a transfer! We can't answer with more specificity because we do not have a schedule yet.

by Alex B. on Aug 16, 2013 2:31 pm • linkreport

@ Matt:You did not answer the question.

Not sure which one you mean.

by Jasper on Aug 16, 2013 2:38 pm • linkreport

@Jasper:
@Jasper:
I'm waiting. Have you answered your question yet?
Here let me make sure the question is clear.

Nick G commutes from a residential unit somewhere in the District of Columbia to a place of employment somewhere in the "Reston" area.

Today, he takes the Orange Line to West Falls Church and then a bus.

In the future, he'll have to take the Silver Line to Wiehle Avenue and then a bus.

Now, part 1: How long is his trip today?
Part 2: How long will his trip be after the Silver Line opens.

Cat got your tongue?

That one. You want to prove you can do a better job? Now's your chance.

Go for it.

by Matt Johnson on Aug 16, 2013 2:58 pm • linkreport

@ Matt Johnson:You want to prove you can do a better job?

Absolutely not. Just trying to get an intermediate number that is easily taken out of context more realistic. I would not waste my time trying to beat you at number crunching. You are the master, after all - as I've said many times in the past.

by Jasper on Aug 16, 2013 3:14 pm • linkreport

I'd like to buy Jasper and Matt Johnson a beer after this, or two, and then we'll crunch numbers....

by JDC Esq on Aug 16, 2013 3:33 pm • linkreport

@Sand Box John:

Wow, that's pretty great. I'd love to see tables for the other lines. Can you provide a link? Also, what was your methodology?

by ImThat1Guy on Aug 16, 2013 5:34 pm • linkreport

I can't speak to that commute, but if these numbers hold up my commute on transit will definitely be shortened. I live in DTSS and work in Tysons, so taking transit involves:

Red to Metro Center (18 minutes)
Orange to WFC (22 minutes)
Fairfax Connector to Tysons (transfer of 3-15 minutes, plus maybe 10 minutes on the bus)
Walk to my office (5-10 minutes)

This isn't so bad in the morning, but since Fairfax Connector doesn't provide any real-time info and it's never on time in the evening, it's impossible to time the return trip well and it ends up taking almost two hours.

Since my office is very close to the Tysons stop, my commute will be simplified to:

Red to Metro Center (18 minutes)
Silver to Tysons (29 minutes)

for a total of 47 minutes on the train + transfer time. Even with walking at both ends, I'll probably be looking at a 1:10 commute, which is starting to get reasonable. Especially since I hate driving on the Beltway...

by Gray on Aug 16, 2013 5:40 pm • linkreport

Comparing transit travel times without accounting for time to transfer (and wait time at any point in the trip for that matter) is completely pointless. There's plenty of research to show that those are the things riders care about more than in-vehicle time anyways. Anyone who thinks realistically that a 36 minute trip (of in-vehicle time) with a transfer is shorter than a 40 minute trip without one has never needed to get off at Union Station and do that 20-minute-walk debate we do around H street.

The point about people who still have to transfer but in a different place is a good one though -- that may just mean an extra four minutes for them. In theory.

I'm surprised no one here has brought up the point of travel time variability. Buses NEVER run on schedule during or around peak hours, no matter how hard you stuff them into HOV lanes (dedicated bus lanes are somewhat better). Metro rail is pretty darn close to "always on time" -- just look how much we complain when there's a 5 minute delay. Traffic, unusually large number of passengers, a wheelchair -- these all throw buses off, even commuter buses. And forget your timed transfer if the bus is late.

What's more, the potential for delay is all compounded the longer distance you have to cover in the bus (although that's somewhat true of Metrorail too). The Silver Line will be an improvement to nearly anyone who uses transit along the line in terms of time -- any argument that states otherwise should be laughed off.

by Vinnie on Aug 16, 2013 7:47 pm • linkreport

@Gray

"I live in DTSS and work in Tysons"

Wouldn't it be something if the Purple Line was planned to eventually connect to the Silver?

by Vinnie on Aug 16, 2013 7:56 pm • linkreport

@Jasper: "Getting out of the station takes on average 4-5 minutes. And buses do not magically leave exactly when people come out of the station."

It takes me about two minutes to get from platform to street level at even the "furthest" stations, like Rosslyn or Wheaton.

Since we don't know the future service schedule for either WMATA or Fairfax Connector -- we just have projected headways -- it's impossible to plan a schedule down to the minute. I suspect that Nick G. will end up having about the same commute: average bus waiting time will decline significantly since he'll have 4X as many buses to choose from, but the decreased rail headways (only 10 Silver TPH vs. 19 Orange TPH today), additional Tysons stops, and the longer walking distance within Wiehle station will add a few minutes. Once Silver Line Phase 2 opens and the transfer's eliminated, that will definitively make his commute faster.

For me, the main limiting factor on a Reston commute is the long headways on the 505, and the Silver Line eliminates that.

by Payton on Aug 16, 2013 9:18 pm • linkreport

I'm wondering about one thing that was not mentioned.
At the present time, there is a shuttle bus that goes
from the West Falls Church Metro station to Dulles
Airport. Obviously the temporary end of the Silver
Line is a lot closer to the Airport than the West
Falls Church station. Does anyone know if the Dulles
shuttle bus will e relocated to a Silver Line
station.
Jeff Norman

by Jeffrey Norman on Aug 17, 2013 11:44 am • linkreport

For those interested, we (Ed Tennyson and I) propose a Leesburg Loop.

Short hybrid (pantograph + 3rd rail shoe) trains that go from Leesburg to Tyson's Corner (through once) and then loop back in the median of the Dulles Toll road. This makes use of empty time slots on the Silver Line and brings additional riders and destinations into the system.

Leesburg passengers can do a platform transfer to a Silver Line train to bring them to other destinations.

Existing WMATA cars could be used adding a pantograph (done elsewhere) allows limited at-grade crossings in Leesburg. Two or three new stations could be added on the new track.

Off-Peak, the "Leesburg Loop" could go further towards DC.

http://oilfreedc.blogspot.com/2012/07/leesburg-loop-silver-line-phase-iii.html

We also support a Mannasas to Herndon Light Rail Line that crosses the terminus of the Brown Line (new line extending past Vienna. If hybrid cars are used there, that adds additional interlining options.

http://oilfreedc.blogspot.com/2012/07/mannasas-dulles.html

Neither option is a Tier 1 priority, but they should show good operating results.

Best Hopes

by Alan Drake (AlanfromBigEasy) on Aug 17, 2013 12:49 pm • linkreport

@Jeffrey Norman. There is this I found on the county website earlier this year. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/silverline/transitplanning.htm

It looks like the airport flyer shuttle is moving to the station at Wiehle ave. My question is will there be both the flyer shuttle and Ffx Connector 981 bus to Dulles (and the 5A) when the rail line opens?

by Transport. on Aug 17, 2013 1:22 pm • linkreport

@ JDC:I'd like to buy Jasper and Matt Johnson a beer after this, or two

Sure. Matt?

@ Vinnie: +1

@ Payton:It takes me about two minutes to get from platform to street level at even the "furthest" stations, like Rosslyn or Wheaton.

Don't know Wheaton, but no way you make it out of Rosslyn within two minutes. Not unless you run up an empty escalator fast, or are lucky enough to find an elevator that's ready to go. Going up the long exit escalator in Rosslyn takes about 3 minutes alone. Now throw in rush hour, and some waiting before you can actually use an escalator, and you're talking 4-5 minutes.

by Jasper on Aug 17, 2013 2:10 pm • linkreport

If only one could work on the train or even sleep, like on the nice trains in Japan, the time would not be so much a factor. The shit trains we have just won't do.

by NE John on Aug 17, 2013 5:34 pm • linkreport

Re "Leesburg Loop":

1. Why build a whole new loop on the Toll Road (probably costing hundreds of millions), when you could just build a switching track east of McLean station and return the way you came?

2. Light rail trains could not go much faster than Metro trains, otherwise they would bunch up.

3. The biggest expense of train operation is the driver's salary. Running short trains will do nothing to decrease that.

4. I find it doubtful that light rail trains will be allowed to run on Metro ROW. However, you could run regular Metro trains, even short ones, to improve headway on the Metro ROW if there is demand for it. That is the real promise of your suggestion.

by Eric on Aug 17, 2013 5:56 pm • linkreport

@ImThat1Guy

The distance figures were pulled from the track schematics in the WMATA Metrorail Safety Rules And Procedures Handbook and from the final revision of the preliminary engineering for Phase II of the N Route Silver line.

The tables of the other lines are not published on the web, so can't give you a link. However the chaining needed to generate the distances can be pulled from this version of my system track schematic.

by Sand Box John on Aug 17, 2013 6:28 pm • linkreport

Alan Drake (AlanfromBigEasy)

Here is your Leesburg Loop rolling stock.

Duel power pickup (catenary and third rail).

My reasoning behind the concept is to allow the extending of lines without all the expensive station and exclusive right of way infrastructure.

by Sand Box John on Aug 17, 2013 6:52 pm • linkreport

My questions is what will be the first and last train times in both directions and the fares and how they compare to the Orange Line and bus les that are being cut as stated by WMATA and Fairfax County. Is real service that is stated better than current service or worst

by kk on Aug 18, 2013 12:57 am • linkreport

To Transport:

Concerning bus connections to Dulles Airport. Fairfax County Connector Rt. 981 will operate as a local service from Wiehle Ave. Station to Dulles Airport and the Washington Flyer will also operate from Wiehle Ave. to Dulles once the Silver line opens. WMATA will hold hearings in September on different alternatives for 5A service once the Silver line opens. Hearing times and dates will be posted soon.

by Steve Strauss on Aug 19, 2013 10:18 am • linkreport

If I use the formula provided, this means that it will take me about 45 minutes to get to Tysons from my stop in DC. That's just train travel time. It's another 5 min to walk to the station. So that's 50 minutes.

I can drive from my home to Tysons in 20 min (during non-Rush hour) and it takes (I've done it) about 45m during Rush.

Hmmm.....

by LuvDusty on Aug 19, 2013 4:48 pm • linkreport

LuvDusty,

Assuming you work regular business hours that means it's a five minute difference. Sure driving may be faster but you also need to consider the cost of parking (may not be free for everyone), convenience (I get most of my reading done on my commute), Safety (metro is far safer than driving), cost (all that gas/wear and tear on your car).

I know some may reasonbly prefer to drive but those are reasons I love transit.

by drumz on Aug 19, 2013 5:01 pm • linkreport

How much will the cost be from end to end? Given the time involved, this may not get people out of their cars. They should install free Wifi...

by PleasantPlainer on Aug 19, 2013 7:18 pm • linkreport

Thanks Drumz. I agree that all those things need to be considered.

But a few things you left out:

-Convenience of leaving home/work when you want
-Not having to wait for late trains or be stuck mid-tunnel
-Being by yourself in your environment, no overcrowding, weird smells, annoying pushy people
-Staying dry, warm, etc
-Ability to take alternate routes if there is an issue
-Ability to go somewhere after work, run errands, pick up kids, go to the theatre, etc..and still make it home safely if it's after dark
-In many cases, depending on type of car I have (hybrid, small car), paying LESS to drive than to take Metro, depending on cost of fare, etc..

So I guess what I'm saying is, for me, the time of commute would have to be SIGNIFICANTLY less for me to consider switching from car to Metro in this scenario.

5 min difference will not cut it for me.

by LuvDusty on Aug 21, 2013 3:14 pm • linkreport

And I second PleasantPlainer's sugg that Metro install free wi-fi. That would make a difference.

by LuvDusty on Aug 21, 2013 3:16 pm • linkreport

I dont think anyone expects that 100% of reverse commute trips from DC to Tysons will be made via the Silver Line, even from parts of DC walking distance to metro. It will depend on which station, how much you like driving, what your particular driving costs are, your typical work times and errand patterns, etc.

You mention overcrowding LuvDusty. If there is overcrowding for reverse commuters on the Silver Line, I think that will show the line is a success.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 21, 2013 3:19 pm • linkreport

I mean, everyone has their preferences but I've found workarounds for these at least.

-Convenience of leaving home/work when you want

Metro runs pretty frequently during commuting hours. If your commute only involves metro (and maybe if it includes something else) then this is really not an issue.

-Not having to wait for late trains or be stuck mid-tunnel

It is annoying, but you get stuck in random traffic back ups as well.

-Staying dry, warm, etc
In my experience I did better when I had to walk about a .5 mile to the metro rather than to my car because I knew I had to be prepared. There was also the time my a/c stopped working in my car. I don't know. I'm going to sweat no matter what anyway.

-Ability to go somewhere after work, run errands, pick up kids, go to the theatre, etc..and still make it home safely if it's after dark

Again, I don't know your neighborhood or personal situation but plenty of people are able to do these things and metro to work. I know I do. I relish the fact that I don't have to drive to a bunch of different places after getting off of work. My best suggestion is to wait until it opens and try it. Maybe split it up, drive some days, metro the other.

by drumz on Aug 21, 2013 3:38 pm • linkreport

I think the biggest point missed in the article is that there will be a higher frequency of buses available at Wiehle then there are at WFC.

Today, I'm fortunate that I can either take the 552 or 554(new route every 30 min) to and from everyday, or the 505/RIBS combo if I'm in a jam. With the Silver Line, it gets much better. I don't need the 505(and the 30 min headway) and can either take 552, 554, the new 558, or RIBS1-3 depending on what's first. Also, the times decrease from 30 min a route to every 18 min for the 552 and 554 buses.

Essentially, my wait for a bus will be 5 minutes and under as opposed to needing to make the rush hour commute. Today, if I miss the 7:42 PM bus going to Reston, I have one option at 8:30 PM or I'm forced to take the 505 and RIBS3 to get home. Overall, I agree that the time in transit will be about the same either way but the additional buses will make the commute easier, and that's the point, right?

by tronz on Aug 22, 2013 2:25 pm • linkreport

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