Tysons, VA

With only a week left until President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, Fairfax Connector announced that two bus routes will stop operating today (Wednesday) through Jan. 20 due to planned road closures in Washington, D.C.

Route 699, which normally travels between the Fairfax County Government Center and downtown D.C., will instead serve as a free shuttle to transport riders from the government center park and ride to the south entrance of the Vienna Metro station.

“The shuttles will leave the government center at the time on the schedule,” Fairfax Connector said in a tweet. “The shuttles will leave Vienna about 45 mins after their DC departure time with the goal of getting riders back to the P&R lot near their regularly scheduled arrival time.”

Fairfax Connector suggests Routes 631, 632, and 634 as travel alternatives for passengers on Route 697, which goes from the Stringfellow Road Park and Ride in Centreville to D Street SW in D.C. Routes 631, 632, and 634 all stop at the Stringfellow Park and Ride and the Vienna Metro station.

Fears that the violence that embroiled the U.S. Capitol last week could return during the lead-up to Inauguration Day have put the D.C. region on edge, prompting thousands of National Guard troops and federal, state, and local law enforcement officers to mobilize for the National Special Security Event.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay joined other local and state public officials in warning community members against traveling to downtown D.C. on the day of the inauguration and the days preceding it.

“Sadly, the terror that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, was not a contained or isolated incident, and there is continued concern that similar violence is an ongoing threat to Americans and our democracy,” McKay said in a statement today.

The chairman says that the Fairfax County Police Department has been in contact with D.C. police about “the evolving situation” and has increased its presence in “key areas” of the county.

McKay advises residents to stay home if possible, avoid downtown D.C., and report any suspicious activity to police at 9-1-1 or the FCPD’s non-emergency line at 703-691-2131.

“Fairfax County will do all we can to help our partners in the region ensure a peaceful and safe transition of power on January 20, 2021 because that is the will of Fairfax County residents and the majority of Americans across the country,” McKay said.

Photo via Fairfax Connector/Facebook

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Monday Morning Notes

Potentially Icy Sidewalks and Roads Pose Hazards — “Temps near or below freezing combined with recent rain may cause ICY spots on roads and sidewalks this morning…Motorists and pedestrians should use caution this morning!” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department/Twitter]

Fairfax County Seeks Input on Fairfax Connector Future — “The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is beginning outreach on the 10-year Transit Strategic Plan (TSP) and is seeking input from county residents…The TSP incorporates outreach results from short-term, sub-area studies that are being conducted in Herndon/Reston, Franconia-Springfield, Centreville/Chantilly/Vienna/Tysons and Huntington.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

McLean District Police Recover Car Reported Stolen — “Officers stopped a 2016 Acura RDX which had been reported stolen. The driver, Chesterfield Stewart, 21, of Maryland, was taken into custody. A gun with an altered serial number was located inside the SUV. Stewart was charged with receiving stolen goods and alteration of a weapon serial number.” [Fairfax County Police Department]

Fairfax County Prosecutor Makes Major Sentencing Reforms — “Prosecutors in [Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve] Descano’s office will stop using mandatory minimum sentences in plea deals, and charging people who commit minor offenses with felonies. And that’s just the start.” [WTOP]

How the Vienna Foodies Grew Into a Movement for Good — “Over a year ago, Vienna VA Foodies was started as a Facebook group celebrating Vienna’s restaurants. Today, it has become a community effort to help restaurants, thank first responders and assist people in need.” [Patch]

Staff Photo by Jay Westcott

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With tomorrow marking the final day of 2020, many government offices and services throughout Fairfax County are altering their schedules over the next couple of days in observance of the New Year’s holiday.

Here are the closures and service changes that community members should know:

Fairfax County Government

  • County government offices will be closed on Jan. 1.

Fairfax County Courts

  • The Fairfax Circuit, General District, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District courts will be closed all day on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

McLean Community Center

  • The center will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 31. It will be closed all day on Jan. 1.

Town of Vienna

  • Town offices and the community center will be closed on Jan. 1.
  • Waste collection for Friday, Jan. 1., will be postponed until Saturday, Jan. 2. The town requests that no brush, bulk or yard waste is included in this pickup.

City of Falls Church:

  • All city offices and services, including City Hall, Mary Riley Styles Public Library and Community Center, will be closed on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

 Public Schools:

  • Fairfax County Public Schools remain closed through Jan. 1 for Winter Break. All students will resume classes virtually on Tuesday, Jan. 5. Monday, Jan. 4, is an independent day.

County Libraries and Recreation Centers:

  • All Fairfax County library branches, community and regional, will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 31. They will all be closed on Jan. 1.
  • All Fairfax County RECenters, except the George Washington RECenter (GWRC), will be open at their regular times and close at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31. GWRC will be closed on Dec. 31. All RECenters will be closed on Jan. 1.

Public Transit:

  • Connector buses will operate on a Sunday service plan on Jan. 1. Check here for operating routes.
  • Fairfax CUE service will not be provided on Jan. 1.
  • WMATA Metrorail service will open at 5 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. through Dec. 31. Service will open at 8 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. while operating on a holiday schedule with Sunday service intervals on Jan. 1.
  • WMATA Metrobus will operate on a regular schedule on Dec. 31 and will go to a Sunday schedule for Jan. 1.
  • Metro’s customer information call center will be closed. Automated information is available by calling 202-637-7000 or online at wmata.com
  • WMATA’s regular fares and parking fees will be in effect on Dec. 31. Off-peak fares will be in effect all day, while parking will be free at all Metro-operated facilities on Jan. 1.

County Trash and Recycling:

  • There will be no change in the county’s trash and recycling collection on Jan. 1. To ensure all trash and recycling is collected, the county requests that all materials be placed at the curb or street line by 6 a.m.
  • County Public Works and Environmental Services administrative offices will closed on Jan. 1 and reopen on Jan. 4.
  • The recycling and disposal centers at the I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex will be closed at 2 p.m. on Dec. 31 and all day on Jan. 1.

Photo courtesy Town of Vienna

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The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is seeking public comment on 10 proposed changes to its Fairfax Connector bus service, including alterations to several routes in the Tysons area.

Fairfax Connector announced on Dec. 18 that, in response to the opening of a new Cedar Lane Bridge over Interstate 66, it will enhance service to Routes 462 and 467, which link the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station with Tysons Corner.

In a news release issued yesterday (Tuesday), FCDOT provides more details on those impending changes, which are set to take effect on Jan. 4:

Route 462 — Dunn Loring-Navy Federal-Tysons: This route would continue to serve Old Courthouse Rd. and Gallows Rd. operating every 30 minutes, during rush hour, presently being served by Route 422. The route is now linked to Route 467.

Route 467 — Dunn Loring-Tysons: This change would add service to Old Courthouse Road and Gallows Road, add Sunday service and improve frequency, operating every 40 minutes, 7 days a week.

On top of those changes, Fairfax Connector is also exploring the possibility of adding five routes that would replace service previously provided by Metrobus.

Two of the proposed new routes would serve the Tysons area:

Route 703 — Pimmet Hills: This route would replace Metrobus 3T and provide service between the West Falls Church Metrorail and McLean Metrorail stations, operating Monday-Friday + Saturday

Route 715 — Chain Bridge Rd.: This route would replace Metrobus 15K on weekdays only. The first southbound trip starts at Langley and would eliminate a section of the current Metrobus 15K route between Rosslyn and Langley.

FCDOT will host a virtual community meeting on all of the suggested service changes on Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. Registration for the WebEx event is now open.

Community members can also share their feedback by taking an online survey that is available in English and Spanish, emailing [email protected], calling 703-339-7200, or sending a letter addressed to FCDOT Planning at 4050 Legato Road #400 Fairfax, VA 22033-2895.

Public comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Jan. 22.

According to a presentation on the service changes, FCDOT plans to request that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approve its proposal in February. If approved, the changes would take effect in July 2021.

Photo via Fairfax Connector/Facebook

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Fairfax Connector is enhancing its service for two routes between the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station and Tysons Corner.

The Fairfax County bus system announced today (Friday) that the anticipated Dec. 23 opening of a new Cedar Lane bridge over Interstate 66 gives it the ability to restore Routes 462 and 467 to their previous routing and scheduling, effective Jan. 4.

Route 467 will also have Sunday service “due to increased passenger demand,” Fairfax Connector says.

The enhanced Dunn Loring-Tysons routes are one of several service changes that Connector passengers can expect starting on Jan. 4.

On that day, Fairfax Connector will begin resuming fare collection following a months-long hiatus that began in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Riders must also return to boarding from the front door after entry shifted to the rear doors in an effort to limit close contact between passengers and drivers and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The move comes as doses of two vaccines produced by Moderna and Pfizer are delivered in Virginia and throughout the country to front-line health care workers and individuals in long-term care facilities.

Metro will also begin resuming the collection of bus fares on Jan. 3.

In order to protect passengers and bus operators, the county has installed polycarbonate driver shields on buses. Face coverings continue to be mandatory inside buses.

Connector staff have distributed 66,000 face coverings to passengers without masks since May. Riders are encouraged to practice social distancing when possible, stay at home if they are sick, and wash hands often with soap and water.

Transdev, the bus systems operations continue, continues to step up cleaning and disinfecting of bus interiors and commonly used areas like door handles and handrails, according to the county.

Angela Woolsey contributed to this report

Staff photo by Jay Westcott, photo courtesy Fairfax County Department of Transportation

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Fairfax Connector will hold a trio of community meetings next week to solicit public feedback on how it can improve its service in Vienna, Tysons, Chantilly, and Centreville.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is developing recommendations for ways to improve different parts of the Fairfax Connector system, which transports about 30,000 passengers on 91 routes daily and represents the largest local bus system in Northern Virginia.

The focus of the review has now shifted to the Vienna, Tysons, Chantilly, and Centreville areas after Fairfax Connector planning staff previously looked at improving service in the Franconia-Springfield area and, before that, Herndon and Reston.

“FCDOT’s goals for this process include increased mobility, better access to destinations, improved travel times, increased schedule reliability, more effective transit operations and increased ridership,” the department says.

During next week’s meetings, FCDOT staff will present three possible plans for the future of Fairfax Connector service in the relevant areas.

According to the department’s website, the first alternative will build on Fairfax Connector’s most recent Transit Development Plan, and it is designed to reduce inefficient service while providing more service to frequently busy locations like Tysons. This option is most similar to the bus system’s current service.

County staff have also proposed a “transformation” alternative that completely overhauls service in the study area, including local all-day routes, rush hour-only service to Metro stations, and express service to the Tysons and Franconia-Springfield Metro stations.

“This alternative improves frequency, span of service, and provides new regional connections such as Vienna to Reston, Centreville to Tysons, and Chantilly to the Franconia-Springfield Metrorail Station,” FCDOT says.

The third proposed alternative is a hybrid of existing service and the new regional connections suggested with the second alternative, including Centreville to Tysons and Chantilly to Franconia-Springfield.

The community meetings have been scheduled for:

  • 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17
  • Noon on Wednesday, Nov. 18
  • 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19

The meetings will be held online, and the same material will be presented at all of them, FCDOT head of communications Robin Geiger says.

Members of the public can also give feedback by filling out an online survey or by mailing comments to the Fairfax County Department of Transportation at 4050 Legato Road, Suite 400, Fairfax, VA 22033.

Information for registering and accessing the virtual community meetings can be found on the FCDOT website.

Staff Photo by Jay Westcott

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Fairfax Extends Early Voting Hours — During this last week of early voting, we have added two extra hours to vote early on both Thursday and Friday, Oct. 29 and 30. [Fairfax County]

Fairfax Connector Ridership Plummets — The Fairfax Connector bus network saw more of a fall-off in ridership during the initial phase of the COVID crisis than some of the region’s other bus systems, but less of a decline than Metrobus ridership across Northern Virginia. [Inside Nova]

Student Driver Crashes Into Town Official — Both vehicles then proceeded into the intersection and collided, Vienna police said. The student driver’s vehicle went up on the curb and struck a light post, causing minor damage, police said. [Inside Nova]

ArtsFairfax Gets Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Capital One Center — “Behind the scenes views from our hard hat tour with @capitalonecenter and @fairfaxcounty visiting @capitalonehall and The Perch.” [ArtsFairfax/Instagram]

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Monday Morning Notes

Fairfax Connector Launches New Service for CIA Employees — “We need to find solutions to get ppl out of cars and into public transit. Access to transit is important for our fed workers who come from around the region. Now, we have a @ffxconnector service for CIA employees that will connect more essential fed workers to transit.” [Twitter]

Regional Leaders Host Roundtable on Transportation After COVID-19 — “The three top leaders in the D.C. metropolitan region talked about the coronavirus pandemic, racial and social injustice and transportation Friday during a Capital Region Business Forum.” [Washington Informer]

Busy Opening at Han Palace — Dim sum fans lined up in Tysons for the opening of new restaurant Han Palace [Twitter]

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Fairfax Connector will resume full service on all routes next Saturday (Aug. 29), bringing a return to a “new normal” after months-long disruptions in service.

The bus service — which is the largest local bus system in the state — will also feature new services, including a new commuter route from Stringfellow Road Park and Ride to Southwest DC.

Throughout the pandemic, the bus service maintained roughly 70 percent of its service in order to cater to customers who depend on it for essential jobs and vital services.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay thanked customers for being patient with past service reductions. “As we return to full service, the health and safety of Fairfax Connector passengers and personnel continue to be our top priority. Working together to diligently follow public health and safety guidelines will result in safer travel conditions for all,” McKay said in a statement.

A breakdown of new service being offered is below:

Route 699: Enhanced service on this route includes two additional morning and afternoon rush hour trips from the Fairfax County Government Center to Downtown Washington, D.C. (Foggy Bottom); adjustments to the departure times to better align with rider demand; and morning and afternoon rush hour reverse commute trips from Downtown, Washington, D.C., to the Fairfax County Government Center.  This route is supported by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) Commuter Choice Program and I-66 toll revenues.

Route 334: Enhanced weekday service operating every 30 minutes during rush hour and every hour during non-rush hour to better serve the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) facility in Springfield by way of Springfield Center Drive and Metropolitan Center Drive, with access to the Franconia Springfield Metrorail Station, the Defense Logistics Agency, and the Army Museum.

Routes 340/341: Minor route adjustments to maintain efficiency and dependability.

Transdev, the bus system’s operations contractor, will implement improved cleaning protocols, especially on common touchpoints like door handles and handrails.

Customers must continue to enter and exit the bus through the rear doors and wear face coverings. Riders are encouraged to practice social distancing by keeping six fee

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Updated 7/28/2020 — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the Memorandum of Agreement today.

Chairman Jeff McKay said that when he and former Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins first worked on the program, they were faced with skepticism about how much it would get used. McKay said that the program has seen “tremendous popularity” and that it helps address equity issues around transportation. 

“This program has been greatly expanded in a short period of time,” McKay said.

Earlier: While Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) will start the school year virtually, county officials want to make sure students will have continued access to free bus passes.

Fairfax County and FCPS teamed up in 2015 to create a pilot program that gives free Fairfax Connector bus passes to middle and high school students.

“Since its inception, nearly two million trips have been taken through the Free Student Bus Pass Program (FSBPP) and as of February 2020, student ridership accounted for approximately 6.5 percent of the total Fairfax Connector ridership,” according to county documents.

More from the county:

Through this innovative program, students can access extracurricular activities, stay after school for support and tutoring, access after school jobs and internships, and visit libraries, museums, and other recreational activities.

The program familiarizes students with public transportation and supports the development of a more multi-modal generation of young adults in the future. This is critical to increasing transit ridership, reducing traffic congestion, and improving mobility around the National Capital Region.

Fairfax County officials are looking to formalize the collaboration so that the program can continue.

The Board of Supervisors is set to vote on Tuesday (July 28) to approve moving forward with a Memorandum of Agreement between the county and FCPS, according to the meeting’s agenda.

Once the agreement is complete, the county will provide free rides on the Fairfax Connector to students with eligible passes and promote the program, while the school system will register, distribute and manage the passes.

In addition to the pilot program with Fairfax Connector, the county also works with the Washington Area Transit Authority (WMATA). In 2018, the county and WMATA expanded the bus pass program to include Justice High School in Falls Church.

Starting with the 2018-2019 school year, students now receive the bus pass in the form of a “specially designed SmarTrip Card,” according to Fairfax County’s website.

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