Metro is starting to familiarize its customers with the service changes that will arrive with the opening of the Silver Line out to Reston, expected by the end of the year.
The first of three open houses the transit authority is holding on the upcoming changes took place in the basement of a church in Capitol Heights, Md. Metro maps and flyers were laid out on posterboard and tables, illustrating what customers can expect once the Silver Line opens.
"The first question people ask us is, 'When is it going to be here?'" says Metro's Jim Hughes. As he explains, the first phase of the roughly $6 billion billion project is scheduled to open by the end of the year.
Hughes is the transit authority's director of intermodal planning, and one of his jobs is to make sure there is enough bus service to get Virginia commuters to the four new rail stops that will open in Tysons Corner.
Another question rail riders have concerns the Blue Line. The opening of the Silver Line will reduce Blue Line service during rush hour by two trains an hour, or one every twelve minutes, and Hughes expects that change to inconvenience 6,000-8,000 passengers a day.
"There will also be less service on the Orange Line between Vienna and West Falls Church, the end of the line, where we are expecting a lot of people to switch over to the Silver Line," Hughes says. "So we don't need as much service between those last couple stops."
The Silver Line has been a big story for a long time, because it will extend rail west into Virginia. Even so, some folks at Metro's open house who live at what will be the eastern end of the Silver Line — Largo Town Center in Maryland — have heard little to nothing at about it.
"I live in Largo and I know that the Silver Line will have an impact on my community," says 65-year-old Yvonne Alston. "And I just wanted to see exactly when it was opening and exactly where it would go."
Two more public meetings on the Silver Line are scheduled. The first is at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 14 at the Reston Community Center in in Reston, Va. The second is at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 16 at the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel in Arlington.
Residents can find out more about these meetings or submit comments online on WMATA's website.