Bus Service Changes Weighed

Bus Service Changes Weighed

Residents respond to a county proposal to cut Route 504, which connects Reston and Tysons Corner.

Brama Elka of Reston takes the 504 bus everyday to work. If the route’s canceled, which the county has recently proposed, she’s not sure how she’d get to and from work.

“That’s the only bus I can get,” said Elka, 26, who didn’t know the route was being considered for elimination. “That would be very bad for me.”

If the proposal to eliminate Route 504 is approved, Reston riders who use the route can expect longer or less convenient commutes, especially to Tysons Corner, said county officials last week at a public hearing.

Jim Carrell, a senior transportation planner with the county, said commuters to Tysons may need to use multiple buses that requires backtracking.

“One option may be to take [one of several] buses to West Falls Church [Metro station] and then go back to Tysons,” Carrell.

SEVERAL RESIDENTS found the suggestion confounding or discouraging. “While I support changing 504, I don’t support completely eliminating it,” said E.L. Tennyson, a Vienna resident who attended the meeting “to protect as many bus riders as possible.”

Route 504 runs from the Reston Town Center to the Tysons West Park Transit Station along the Dulles Toll Road. It was chosen for elimination because it’s one of two of the least used Dulles Corridor routes. While other routes typically have 23 or more passengers per trip, the 504 averages 2.3, according to county figures (see box).

If route 504 is eliminated, its two buses would be added to Route 989, which travels from the Wiehle Park & Ride to the Pentagon Metro Station and Crystal City, and consistently has heavy passenger loads.

Officials also solicited comments about proposed changes to Route 574, which were designed to mitigate the effects of losing Route 504. If changed, Route 574, which also goes to Tysons but takes Route 7, would bypass much of Baron Cameron Avenue to pick up nearly 20 stops using Wiehle Avenue and North Shore Drive.

ABOUT TEN people attended a meeting on July 12 held by Fairfax County’s Department of Transportation at the Reston Regional Library, to discuss the proposed changes.

Tennyson, who recognized that Route 504 suffers from poor ridership, said the proposal went too far. He suggested scaling back Route 504 to one bus. “[Route] 989 doesn’t need two more buses,” he said, justifying his counter-proposal.

Reston Resident Diana Lord said she would welcome the route change to 574. “It’s great for me,” said Lord, who lives on North Shore Drive. But Lord grew anxious when Carrell suggested the changes to 574 might support future bus service cuts.

“The 574 change may facilitate taking RIBS [Reston Internal Bus Service] 4 off-line,” said Carrell.

“I’d be concerned if they’re going to change RIBS 4,” said Lord.

Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), who attended the meeting, said she supported matching service with need. “The good news is there is a demand for transit services, so the question is how we meet that demand,” said Hudgins. “Hopefully, within the next 12 months there will be another bus study done.”

The county will continue to receive community comments until July 21. Residents who wish to comment on the proposal can write Fairfax County Department of Transportation, attention Route 504 proposal, suite 1034, 12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035. Comments can also be sent via email using the “email us” link at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/contact.htm. The county plans to make a final decision about the routes by July 31.