News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Buspocalypse Now: Proposed Budget Cuts Would Eliminate 7 Reston Routes, Reduce RIBS Service

151776-Broken-Down-Bus--The-PUSH-0.jpg.jpegIf you think the current 10-cent fare surcharge imposed on Fairfax Connector riders is bad, just wait! Under the just-unveiled proposed Fairfax County budget for the upcoming fiscal year, Fairfax Connector would eliminate seven Reston routes and scale back service on all RIBS routes.

On the chopping block are routes 552, 553, 554, 557, 929, 951 and 952. As secret Restonian operative "Adam" points out, the only routes slated for elimination in the entire county all serve Reston. Nice! RIBS routes 1-5 would also have reduced service hours, but they don't exactly have the most sterling reputation in that area in the first place.

But there's a consolation prize: a "new" route, Route 580, which would partially make up for the lost routes by plying the Toll Road from Reston East Park and Ride to West Falls Church Metro Station every 15 minutes.

Who's to blame for this mess? According to Fairfax County, the airports.

Fairfax Connector service cuts and fare increases are required due to the discontinuance by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) of $6.645 million in annual operating support (from Dulles Toll Road revenues) for the Dulles Express Bus Service.
The Dulles Express Bus Service has been partially funded through an annual state set-aside of Dulles Toll Road revenue through a grant with the commonwealth and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT). The grant (initially for 50% state funding and 50% county funding of the service) was established in FY 2000 and was to remain in place until Metrorail service to Wiehle Avenue was implemented. Since that time, the state’s contribution has remained unchanged and the county’s contribution has grown as operating costs have increased. In November 2008, the Dulles Toll Road and the control of this grant were transferred to MWAA; MWAA subsequently determined that the grant to the county would not be continued.
Also, the base fare would increase from $1.25 to $1.50 under the proposal. But that doesn't really matter if there's no bus to catch, does it?


  1. Good riddance --- lots of sneakers and bikes can be bought with the vast sums of money saved by shutting down these wasteful air-polluting bus routes.

    Next? The hundreds (or is it thousands now?) of hudgins' ballot-box stuffing section 8 housing units in reston!!

    Bring it on, babe!

  2. Considering that more than half of the passenger load of the 55X lines is between the Wiehle P & R and WFC, I'm surprised that this measure hasn't been taken earlier.

    The loss of the 553 and 557 means that there will be no means of mass transportation along Sunrise Valley from Hunter Mill to South Lakes, nor any service at all along Glade between Twin Branches and Colts Neck nor along Soapstone between Sunrise Valley and Glade (except for the RIBS 2 and 551 which crosses Soapstone at South Lakes Dr by Shadoweed). I guess these folks will now have to drive to a commuter lot instead of taking the bus from home.

    The 95X are reverse commute lines, so all of those folks have limited options. I suppose that they could use the 580/505 and RIBS services, but that is going to add substantially to their commutes. I'm betting that most of these people will either change jobs or start driving as well.

    While I like the idea of cutting the 55X lines and adding the 580, cutting RIBS service is short-sighted. More people will be driving to the Wiehle P & R instead of picking up the bus and transferring at Wiehle. The parking lot at Wiehle is already at capacity usually filling up before 7:30 am. With no place to park, I see more people driving all of the way to work instead of using the buses.

    Sigh. The net effect of these actions is going to be putting more single passenger cars on the road, not more efficiently using our existing bus and road capacities.

    I guess it's going to take more $4 or $5/gal gas for somebody to see that during tough economic times, we need more mass transit, not less.

  3. By terminating the 505 at Wiehle and dropping all neighborhood 55x routes (except the 551), the proposed cuts eliminate direct service from many neighborhoods to the Reston East (Wiehle) park and ride lot. Residents would have to take a RIBS bus to Wiehle, then transfer to the 505 or new 580 to reach West Falls Church. For those RIBS routes that do not service Wiehle, riders would have to transfer to another RIBS at Town Center to reach Wiehle.

    The proposal seems to assume that residents can drive to Wiehle and park. However, for those without a car, this is not an option.

    The proposal also assumes that parking will be available at Wiehle. But, the main lot already fills up by 7:30 a.m., and the "old" lot (Wiehle and Sunset) also fills up frequently. There is no other off-street parking available, and no street parking within walking distance. (Does anyone know when construction might begin on the Wiehle park and ride site?)

    At a minimum, I hope that 505 service to Town Center can be saved. At least this would give neighborhood riders a fighting chance.

  4. Correction to 11:03 post -- The 505 continues to Town Center, the new 580 only serves Wiehle. However the points about RIBS routes that do not serve Wiehle, and inadequate parking at Wiehle remain accurate. Sorry for the mixup.

  5. "lots of sneakers and bikes can be bought with the vast sums of money saved by shutting down these wasteful air-polluting bus routes."

    Guess what, genius, these folks are NOT going to walk or ride bikes, they're going to DRIVE. More "wasteful, polluting" cars on the road, yaaay!

  6. Brooklyn Bridge SalesmanFebruary 25, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    These proposed cutbacks are insane. The 552 and 554 provide direct service from residential neighborhoods in North Reston to West Falls Church via the Wiehle P&R; the 553 and 557 do likewise for South Reston (via the Reston South P&R for the 553). The areas served include those neighborhoods not even remotely near RIBS service.

    I used to ride the 553 to get to the WFC Metro. My morning bus usually never had less than 20 or 25 passengers on it, and ridership actually seemed to be increasing in the past two or three years. I'm guessing at a minimum these four routes combined carry at least several hundred, if not more, riders each day to and from Reston's residential areas.

    Don't care because you already drive to Wiehle or Reston South? Wait until you can't find a parking spot at 7:00 a.m. because of all the extra cars, and wait until you get caught in all those extra cars on the Wiehle overpass trying to get in and out of the P&R.

    Don't care because you already drive to Tysons or DC on the Toll Road? Add a few hundred more cars at rush hour and see if your commute isn't even more swell than it is now.

    And as for the first comment, while I obviously disagree with the poster's take on shutting down these lines, his mention of Section 8 housing raises one point. Isn't it interesting that the only Connector bus service that will remain in residential areas of Reston is the 551 Ghetto Express serving our favorite gulags. Wouldn't want to disadvantage Cathy's constituent base, would we?

  7. So all of the service cuts are in Hudgins district? Way to go our supervisor!

  8. When the Metro arrives, we could save a bundle on a shuttle bus by giving out free Heelys skate shoes instead.

  9. Hudgins needs to go...

  10. The 55x that I took to WFC this morning had to refuse passengers because it was full (standing room all the way to the driver). One new bus every 15 won't fill that need.

    I can live without being able to catch a bus to the P&R, but if they're going to make more people drive to the Wiehle lot, they really need to address parking (adding a pedestrian bridge and a walkway to the lot would be a start)

  11. I take the 552 all the time. That would be horrible if they cut the 55x services.

    Convict, why ever do you like the idea of cutting the 55x lines? They are always jammed full. without those lines it will get much worse in the mornings.

    This is crazy.

  12. It seems more efficient to use Wiehle as a hub. Run the 580 as a shuttle between Wiehle and WFC and then let all of the local bus riders pick a RIBS bus on an EXPANDED schedule. Unfortunately, the current plan calls for running the local buses on a CONTRACTED schedule.

    Currently, during the height of rush hour, there's a 55X arriving/departing Wiehle every 7.5 minutes. Most of these are full except when there are delays on the Orange line. I'm betting that they won't have the 580 running with anything like that frequency.

    Considering the way people compete for seats on the buses, I suspect that with the extra crowding, it's just a matter of time before we start seeing fist fights on the buses.

    If only we could find a way of keeping the LoCo folks off of the commuter buses departing Reston. Of course, that would mean that the Rethuglican bastion to the West would have to expand their spending on mass transit, which ain't likely to happen.

  13. The Wiehle Ave park and ride is already at capacity. The 55x buses are needed in the neighborhoods because there is no place to park after 7:15 a.m. If these cuts go through, I think we'll have a big traffic mess near the toll road interchange ramps. Even if people rider the Ribs buses to transfer, the Ribs buses are small buses - will everyone who is lucky enough to live near a Ribs stop fit on the bus?

  14. From the text on the Connector website, it looks like Reston is taking such a big hit in cuts because the MWAA/airport/old state grant was for Dulles express service which are the Reston routes. Other areas didn't have Dulles service.

  15. This just seems like another example of the huge irony of the Silver line to Dulles airport. $5+billion in spending to build a rail line in the middle of a roadway that already has an excellent rapid bus service down the center of the airport access road. Huge increases in tolls to pay for it. Reductions in bus service. And finally, when the rail line is built, the ride into DC won't be any faster with the rail than the existing bus service. And I'm sure parking will cost $4+ dollars per day instead of free. This is progress?

  16. I'm lovin' that 580 dealio, although the 505 was on a 15-minute schedule until recently, so it's not *that* great. What *would* be great is if the 552 would run after-hours, but that's just a sick personal dream of mine.

    Nevertheless, to cut the buses that get people from populated areas to the hubs in a timely manner - especially the park and ride - would be a big mistake, and simply doesn't make any sense. It's anti-communal, and my hunch is that it won't pass.

  17. The new 580 is actually not that great a deal.

    Right now, the 552, 551, 554, and 557 each go through the neighborhoods to the Wiehle P&R, and then from there to West Falls Church. And the 505 goes from Town Center to Wiehle P&R and then West Falls Church as well. They each run once every 30 minutes. Thus, in each 30-minute period during rush hour you now have 5 buses going from Wiehle P&R to WFC. Under the new proposal, you will have only 4 buses every 30 minutes - one 505, one 551, and two 580s.

    So, not only is neighborhood service being cut, but the service from Wiehle to WFC is also being cut during rush hour.

  18. First of all why this discussion has to devolve into racist rants about Sec 8 housing is a puzzle but if you want live in a utopia with only your socio-economically privileged selves MOVE.
    These cuts represent the fact that there is still no will, political or otherwise, to make serious investments in basic public transportation. We complain about gas prices, traffic and lack of parking but won't make the leap necessary to fix it. And adding more parking is no solution. Just like adding more roads doesn't ease traffic, but add to it. Everyone who relies on the FC daily to get to and from work and/ or the Metro need to show up at the hearings.

  19. These cuts are INSANITY.

    I live 1 1/2 miles from the P&R but can't walk there, because I am on the South side and to cross the 7 intersections it takes to get across the toll road is life-threatening. Try it sometime.

    The 557 has been invaluable to me--less so since they cut it back last year--and without it, no question, I will be driving to the P&R because I don't have anyone who can drop me off.

  20. Flyer 1: "These cuts represent the fact that there is still no will, political or otherwise, to make serious investments in basic public transportation"

    Let me see --- what about the $5 billion and growing Dulles metro? What is that? Monopoly Money?

    And the HOT lanes on the Beltway?

    And the 15-year, multi-billion dollar Wilson bridge project?

    And the ICC in Maryland?

    And the decade-long untangling of the Springfield Interchange?

    All public and all transportation --- all the time!

    Man, woman or child -- you restonionas have GOT to get out and smell the diesel fumes more often!

    Just please leave your faulty priuses and camrys at home, please!

  21. It is your turn... it is your voice... it is your Reston.

    We ask you to remember the issues of the past summer:

    A determined RA board supporting a $100 million recreation project that would involve the destruction of Brown's Chapel Park.

    An RA board that spent $100,000 of its member's dues to hire a consultant in support of this project without the consent of its members.

    More than a year of closed-door meetings of the RA board and RCC to plan this project to be paid for with Small Tax District 5 money - prior to any real knowledge of it by its members until May 2009.Please review the following RA Board Candidates who we believe will act in the best interests of RA members:

    Joe Leighton - At-Large Candidate. Joe was the only current RA board member to take a stand early in the Browns Chapel $100 million debacle.Joe sent out an alarm to the community. When Joe tried to make a motion in June 2009 to eliminate Brown's Chapel as a development site, the board leadership tried to shut him down. Not a single RA board member was willing to vote on the issue. It was months later after the RA board finally felt the pressure of its members that Joe's motion was passed. Joe is a leader who takes his job seriously and understands that he represents all RA members.

    Peter Greenberg - North Point Candidate. Peter was the first North Point resident to sound the alarm about the destruction of Browns Chapel Park. Even the current RA North Point board representative did not support the defeat of this initiative until the very last moment. Peter worked tirelessly on the Brown's Chapel Park issue and was the first person who vowed to help put RA parks and open spaces in a "Conservation Trust". Peter, a 14-year resident of Reston, is a successful businessman with extensive senior executive experience and is an outstanding North Point candidate.

    Ken Knueven - Lake Anne / Tall Oaks. Ken will bring significant corporate experience to the RA board. For over 30 years Ken has been instrumental in the development, growth and leadership of global organizations and currently manages Strategic Federal Programs for Microsoft. He values the neighborhood pool concept over the consolidation of mega locations, and will work toward protecting the interests of RA members against the mega pool replacement concept People who live in this district should remember it was only a few years ago that Tall Oaks neighbors had to protest to the RA Board in order to keep their pool open. Ken will also lead in helping Lake Anne residents have a voice in dealing with the issues facing the aging RELAC operations. Visit Ken's Web site

  22. Also all Reston area Sunday service will be eliminated, along with late night service on the 505 and RIBs routes.

  23. The person who suggested bikes and sneakers is crazy. Where do you think we work if we are commuting to WFC?

    Another unrealistic option is to take RIBS buses. Yuck. Perpetually dirty (and tiny) buses plus really slow. Multiple transfers are a big delay. Think about it for a moment. First, I would wait for a bus (assuming it isn't late again)to take me on a slow ride with frequent stops to another bus stop where I stand and wait some more. Then, I arrive at a subway stop where I do even more waiting. After that, I take a crowded rail ride in, hoping there is no single tracking for track maintenance or forced off the train prematurely due to malfunctioning doors. From the destination station, I walk a few a blocks. A typical commute will easily be an hour and a half. Heck, you get make it to the Delaware state line from the Beltway in that much time.

    The person who did the calculations of buses per half hour is right. Thanks for that analysis. The park and ride is already full early now! This only worsens the problem. One other person correctly noted that buses already turn people away they are so crowded.

    Why not drive if this comes to fruition? Crowded, dirty, and smelly buses with no seats. Crowded trains where a way of life is being wedged in like sardines into someone’s armpit hoping none of the 100 people wedged in the train car passes wind (perhaps the sweaty arm pit is so bad, flatulence would be an improvement) Expensive. Slow. Time consuming. Standing outside in bad weather. More standing on the buses and rails. People may gripe about sitting in traffic, but at least I’d be sitting. Plus, unlike the buses and trains, the AC in my car is not broken half the time. With fewer buses, you'll see more of the "500 meter WFC dash" off the trains in the PM rush. I do not have to sprint to my car in the parking garage. Public transportation was more convenient. With this plan it’ll be misery. Good riddance.

    The Rethuglican comment? Get a clue and realize that not everyone spits political bile like you. Maybe METRO should stop cow towing to these obscenely generous union contracts and there’d be more money to fund the services.

  24. I am all for the huge transportation projects (Dulles rail, ICC, Springfield interchange, etc.) as they address the region-wide issue of traffic congestion. But what about investing in small, local transportation issues such as what will be occuring here in Reston? There never seems to be the will to "think locally". SO WHAT if Dulles rail runs through Reston, if I can't get to it via a bus and there's no adequate parking? Then I'm back in the car stuffing up the roads like everyone else.

  25. How about a showpiece small gauge monorail system throughout Reston... utilizing some of the integral RA pathways as the corridors... talk about jobs, and green...

  26. Monorail is a great idea. A nice 70s concept will match perfectly and complement the 70s housing architecture and mauve colored paint so prominent in A Place Called Reston

  27. hey the 70's were great.. music, movies, sitcoms...

  28. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonMarch 2, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    The definition I ever heard of that era is "the decade that taste forgot and that time cannot improve".

  29. Northern Virginia has seen, and will continue to see, considerable sums spent on transportation projects. Nevertheless, most of them have had, and will have, little or no positive impact on congestion or air quality. Replacing the Wilson bridge was necessary for safety reasons, but the HOT lanes and the Springfield interchange will reduce congestion not one bit. The Silver LIne, by itself, will not reduce congestion at all; so say the various studies prepared by the State. So much of the money spent so far has accomplished almost nothing.
    For the most part, VDOT, the County and the developers are still locked into a car-centric mentality and cannot imagine a transportation program that sought to get people out of their cars.
    Sadly, two things are certain. First the day will come when we have to provide people with an alternative to their cars -- because we cannot continue to consume gasoline at the current rate -- for environmental and other reasons. When that day will come is not certain, but it is probably sooner rather than later.
    Second, providing alternatives will be both difficult and expensive -- largely because Northern Virginia has been developed to be car dependent. And it will be expensive in part because the County and the State have resisted investing money into public transportation. And by expensive I mean capital expenditures 10 or 20 times the cost of the Silver Lline.

  30. There’s still time to make your thoughts available to the County regarding the proposed bus cuts ... you – or perhaps a full group for people with petitions in hand -- can sign up here ( and show up to speak during the Board of Supervisors public hearings, scheduled for Tuesday, April 6, at 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 7, at 3 p.m., and Thursday, April 8, at 3 p.m., at the Fairfax County Government Center Building, 12000 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax. You can also submit comments online here ( through April 20 or leave a one-minute message on the Budget Hotline at 703-324-9400.

    In addition, you can present concerns about proposed bus service cuts or any other county concerns directly to Supervisor Cathy Hudgins at the Reston Regional Library this coming Monday, April 5, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., when she’ll appear as part of her “First Mondays with Supervisor Hudgins” series. Walk-ins are welcome, or if you prefer, you can schedule an appointment by calling the Hunter Mill District Office at 703-478-0283.


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