Posts about Tysons Corner
When Fairfax County repaves roads this summer as part of routine maintenance, it's going to add bike lanes and other features to some of them.
Here's the complete list of Fairfax streets that will get new bike facilities in 2015:
Adding bike infrastructure to roads that are going to get a new coat of paint either way is a very cheap way to make Fairfax more bike-friendly. Of course, if this were the only way the county added new bike lanes, it'd take quite a while for them to show up on recently repaved roads.
The projects are spread throughout the county, but Tysons is getting some special attention as the county takes another step in its planned transformation of the area.
VDOT's website says residents will begin seeing the new paint—
Despite speculation that the Silver Line might change how the Fairfax Connector runs to Wolf Trap, the service's Route 480 Wolf Trap Express will continue to run from West Falls Church this season. While some Silver Line stations are closer, it turns out West Falls Church still makes sense.
According to Nicholas Perfili, the Fairfax Connector section chief, Wolf Trap and Fairfax County DOT officials did discuss the possibility of changing the service to run from a station on the Silver Line. Ultimately, they decided against it.
West Falls Church still has a lot to offer
The main reason for keeping the current routing is to make sure concert goers can stay at Wolf Trap for as long as possible. While the last train to DC leaves Spring Hill at 11:18 pm during the week, the last train from West Falls leaves at 11:32. Concerts can run late into the evening, and those extra few minutes can be the difference between having to leave before a show ends and catching the encore.
Perfili also pointed out that the route from West Falls Church to Wolf Trap offers a more reliable trip time because it has HOV-2 restrictions on the Dulles Connector Road and a bus-on-shoulder lane that lets buses bypass other traffic. Also, a bus from Spring Hill would be subject to Tysons congestion, which can be quite bad.
While there's ample parking at West Falls Church, there isn't at any of the Tysons stations. A final thing West Falls Church has that the others don't: room for buses to park and wait if need be.
The Wolf Trap Express will undergo one change this year: it will now use West Falls Church's Bus Bay E, which is closer than Bay B, which it used to use. The move comes thanks to the Silver Line, which made it possible to cut the number of buses needing to run through West Falls Church.
That means that, albeit indirectly, the Silver Line is making trips to Wolf Trap shorter... if only by a few feet.
Some of Tysons' main streets are getting a makeover this summer, and that's going to make them more bike-friendly.
Map of the changes coming to Tysons, including how the bike network will connect with the Spring Hill, Greensboro, Tysons, and McLean Metro stations. Image from Fairfax County.
Along with getting new pavement, stretches of Tyco Road, Westbranch Drive, and Greensboro Drive are going on road diets. That means they'll get new paint jobs that take them from being four through lanes wide to having two through lanes, a center turn lane, and bike lanes on each side.
A road diet was successful on Lawyers Road in Reston, where Virginia Department of Transportation data say car crashes are down a whopping 70%. After five years, nearby residents, people driving cars, and people on bikes are happy with the arrangement.
More than in Reston, Tysons needs to plan for people on foot. VDOT gets that, so the agency is lowering speed limits to 35 mph, which fits with Tysons' urban design standards.
VDOT's Randy Dittberner said his agency may consider painting the bikeway bright green so it's more visible, but it won't happen at the start.
Dittberner also said that the new pavement markings are only going in places "where we are 100% sure it won't do anything to traffic conditions."
Fairfax County is taking comments until April 1st, and VDOT will begin its final planning stage after that.
Correction: The original version of this post said Westbranch Drive will have a protected bikeway rather than a buffered bike lane.
Ridership is strong at the Silver Line's Wiehle-Reston East and Tysons Corner stations, and over time there should be more riders at the other three stops. You can see this and other facts about Silver Line ridership
from a new data visualization on PlanItMetro.
PlanItMetro's interactive maps and graphs show when and where Silver Line riders are going to and coming from, and allow users to look at riders' entry and destination stations along with the day of the week and the time, in quarter-hour increments.
Last year, Metro posted graphs showing one week of September ridership, but this dataset represent ridership from all of October 2014, including weekdays, weekends, and holidays.
Wiehle-Reston East and Tysons Corner see far more riders than the other three, but the others could catch up as land around the stations develops.
Wiehle-Reston East gets the most passengers overall
Wiehle-Reston East currently handles the lion's share of passengers at new Silver Line stations, partly because it's a hub for transit riders whose bus routes take them there or who use the station's large park-and-ride garage. Wiehle-Reston East's ridership base is a lot like other stations at the end of Metro lines: the overwhelming majority of its riders are inbound commuters who enter on weekday mornings and exit on weekday evenings.
Interestingly, Wiehle is also the largest single commuting destination on the Silver Line. On the average weekday during the morning peak, about 1,000 passengers exit at Wiehle, compared to about 5,000 entries. Even though Tysons Corner is a jobs hub, only about 900 people exit at that station during the same period. At the four stations in the Tysons area, there are about 2,100 combined exits during this period.
The Wiehle number is impressive because more people exit at Wiehle Avenue during the morning peak than exit from any other terminal station. Wiehle's 1,046 average exits trumps the next-best terminal, Shady Grove (with 977 average exits).
Also interestingly, Wiehle's ratio of entries to exits is the smallest of all the terminal stations (meaning it's the most tilted toward exits). At Wiehle Avenue, for every exit, there are 4.9 entries. That compares to 6.1 entries for every exit at New Carrollton, 7.3 at Greenbelt, and 7.5 at Largo.
Some of this ridership is likely due to people connecting to buses bound for Reston, Herndon, and Dulles Airport. But there are some office buildings around the station as well.
Ridership at Wiehle will likely change once Phase Two is complete: many passengers who currently arrive on buses, or take them to destinations like Reston Town Center or Dulles, will instead start boarding the Silver Line farther down the line.
Tysons corners the market on work, evening trips
Tysons Corner's ridership pattern exhibits some unusual features.
Weekday rush-hour exits at Tysons Corner outnumber boardings at the station by three to one, which shows that like stations in downtown DC, Tysons Corner is near where a lot of people work. But unlike downtown DC, PlanItMetro has pointed out that a lot of people travel to Tysons Corner during off-peak and on holidays, probably to use surrounding shopping centers. In the evenings (after 7:00 pm), Tysons Corner is the busiest Silver Line station.
In terms of the ratio of entries to exits, Tysons Corner is a lot like a station on the edge of downtown. At Tysons Corner, there are 1.8 exits for every entry. Next door at Greensboro, the ratio is 1.7 exits for every entry. That compares to Dupont Circle, with a ratio of 1.9 and Rosslyn with a ratio of 1.5.
Tysons Corner and Greensboro are the only stations outside of the Beltway where exits outnumber entries during the morning peak period.
McLean, Greensboro, and Spring Hill, the Silver Line's three other three Tysons stations, see fewer riders than Wiehle or Tysons Corner. That could be because these three have not yet been enveloped by transit-oriented development. McLean, for example, draws a lot of local residents, many of whom ride a bicycle or walk to the station.
Even though Silver Line passengers go all across the region, most of them aren't transferring to other lines, or going to destinations in the eastern half of the metro area. Over 60% of passengers boarding at Silver Line stations on weekdays travel to stations served by the Silver Line between Wiehle and L'Enfant Plaza.
What else do you find interesting from the data visualization?
Now that the Silver Line is open and riders can easily walk to Tysons Corner mall, ridership at the adjacent Tysons Corner Metro station jumps when people are shopping. According to data from PlanItMetro, Black Friday was the busiest Friday for the station since the Silver Line opened.
Friday Metro ridership. Graph by PlanItMetro.
The station had 10,800 riders entering or exiting over the course of the day, or double its normal weekday volume of around 5,500. Examine the full dataset and PlanItMetro's other data and visualizations here.
Fifteen percent of commuters who take Metro's Silver Line to Tysons Corner or Wiehle Avenue come from east of the Anacostia River in DC or Prince George's County. These long commutes result from a growth pattern that puts jobs in far-flung western suburbs and affordable housing in the east. They're part of the price our region pays for sprawl.
Data released last week from Metro shows that 150 of the 983 morning rush hour riders arriving daily at Wiehle Avenue come from the system's easternmost stations. With 126 out of 827 passengers coming from the same area, the new Tysons station has similar numbers. The percentage is even higher at Spring Hill station.
These numbers are particularly noteworthy because only 20% of Metro's morning riders come from east of the Anacostia or Prince George's in the first place.
|Silver Line station||AM peak riders|
Some of those arriving at Wiehle Avenue are no doubt well-off homeowners who chose long commutes in order to live near Chesapeake Bay. After years of long car treks around the crowded Beltway, they might well prefer to park at New Carrollton or Largo and take a train trip of 70 minutes or more.
But the most common motivation for Silver Line riders from the east side is surely economic necessity, as most board at stations that draw riders from less affluent neighborhoods nearby.
Going from New Carrollton or Addison Road to Reston is a tough commute no matter how one travels, and if you have to wait for the bus at one or both ends, it's brutal. These ridership figures are a reminder of how painful it is when low wages meet land use policies that separate jobs from affordable housing.
When the Silver Line opened, Fairfax County also launched three new bus routes to help people get around Tysons Corner. How are they working? Jenifer Joy Madden had a good experience on the buses, but Navid Roshan says that the meandering route makes the bus slow for many trips.
Recently, two family members and I biked from our home in suburban Vienna over quiet streets and neighborhood trails to Spring Hill, the closest of the Silver Line stations. Our final destination was the Tysons I mall, but instead of continuing by bike or Metro, we parked our bikes, walked over the Route 7 Metro pedestrian bridge, and caught Fairfax Connector 423.However, Navid Roshan points out that while the bus takes a fairly direct route between Spring Hill and Tysons, it winds circuitously around the rest of Tysons, making it less useful for many trips.
For walkers and cyclists, the bus is a great solution for bypassing or crossing the Tysons core. The 423, like the other new Fairfax Connector circulator buses, runs every ten minutes from morning until night. The cost is only 50¢ per ride or free if you transfer from Metro. The ride to the Tysons Corner Metro station bus stop took less than 20 minutes, about the same time it would have taken by bike.
Unfortunately, the [North Central Tysons] residents who would rely on the 423 would see an approximate 8 to 10 minute bus ride from the Park Run region to Tysons Corner station. That is only 2 minutes shorter than walking. Add in the average headway wait of 5 minutes (half of 10 minutes) and it makes more sense for the thousands of residents in this community to walk instead.Roshan says that initial plans called for four Circulator routes, but Fairfax combined them to save money. He suggests re-dividing the 423 into two routes, one mostly using the north-south roads to and from the Tysons Corner station, and one more east-west to Spring Hill.
That being the case, it's not shocking that ridership on the 423 is so pathetic, especially considering the very strong ridership from this same neighborhood on the 425/427 series to WFC... which used to take only 4 minutes more than the 423 to get to the Metro station.
That's just the morning. Forget about riding the bus if you want to take it home after work. Due to the 423′s one way loop around Tysons, grabbing the bus from Tysons Corner Station to get to the center of the North Central residential region will take between 14 and 18 minutes. All of this is being caused by the serpentine and over stretched nature of the 423.
That would mean the bus wouldn't serve the specific trip Madden took. but since that was between two Metro stations, the train is available except during rush hours when bikes are prohibited on Metro. Meanwhile, she has her own suggestions to improve the circulators:
It would be useful if a circulator route could ferry cyclists and pedestrians past the dangerous Beltway/Dulles Toll Road interchange. Also, the circulators should have their own design and colors. Right now, they are indistinguishable from the external buses and their purpose isn't clear. I think that's why the 423 isn't being used as much.Have you used the Tysons buses? What do you think of the routes?
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