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]
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]
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
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.
People can provide feedback on Fairfax Connector’s proposed service changes for this fall, which include expanded service from the McLean Metro stop.
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is asking people to submit input via an online survey, email ([email protected]), phone (703-339-7200, TTY 703-339-1608) or mail, according to the county’s website.
“FCDOT normally conducts several community input meetings on proposed changes to Fairfax Connector service, but as a result of current public gathering restrictions due to COVID-19, transit staff recorded a presentation which is available online for viewing instead,” the website said.
The proposed service changes include several routes — the existing 334, 340/341 and 721 routes and the new 722, 350 and 351 routes.
More about the proposed changes to the Tysons-area routes:
Route 721: Chain Bridge Road – McLean Metrorail Station – Includes expanded weekday midday service every 30-minutes from the McLean Metrorail Station to the George Bush Center for Intelligence (GBCI) facility in Langley, Virginia. The buses will operate with 30-minute headways.
Route 722: McLean Metrorail Station – GBCI – Includes new weekday express service every 15 minutes during morning and afternoon peak hours between the McLean Metrorail Station and the GBCI facility in Langley.
FCDOT plans to present the final proposed changes to the county’s Board of Supervisors in July and, if the board approves them, the changes will go into effect by or before Oct. 31, the email said.
County officials are urging Fairfax Connector passengers to cover their faces while riding the bus.
Fairfax County announced today (Wednesday) that passengers should use non-medical face coverings or cloth masks to help prevent spreading the coronavirus.
“While the use of cloth face coverings is strongly encouraged, no one without such a face covering will be denied entry to Fairfax Connector buses,” the announcement said.
Additionally, passengers should practice social distancing, avoid public transportation when sick and wash their hands often.
In the announcement, county officials shared a video Dawna Poyner, a public health nurse with the Fairfax County Health Department, taking about face coverings.
Revenues from decreased ridership are taking a hit on the Fairfax Connector as the fallout of COVID-19 outbreak continues to unfold.
The bus service is set to receive $1.85 million in funds from the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which oversees statewide transportation and transit projects, to help address the impact of the coronavirus — including a dip in revenue from fares.
Last week, the board approved supplemental funding to help stave off the impact of service reduction, ridership losses and decreases in revenue.
But the funding, which was OK’d by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at a meeting yesterday (Tuesday), would only keep the buses rolling for about two months.
Fares on buses were temporarily suspended last week because the fare boxes are located at the front of buses. Due to the coronavirus, customers are required to enter and exit buses using the rear doors.
Here’s more from the board matter approved by the Board of Supervisors:
County staff have been responding to the onset of COVID-19, ensuring that Fairfax Connector employees are prepared, and the County’s capital assets are cleaned frequently to help reduce the potential spread of the disease.
At the same time, County staff have been ensuring Fairfax Connector service continues to be available to serve Fairfax County residents who have no alternate way to travel during this emergency.
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is continuing to implement changes necessary to protect the health and safety of Fairfax Connector employees, customers and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as requiring passengers to enter and exit the bus using the rear doors, with the exception of customers who need to use a wheelchair ramp.
Fare collection on buses has been temporarily suspended due to the location of fareboxes at the front entrance of buses. The County will continue make adjustments to Fairfax Connector service to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and will ensure information on such adjustments is provided to the public.
An FCDOT spokesperson said that although ridership had dipped, statistics on the extent of the increases are not yet available.
County officials are evaluating if the Fairfax Connector bus service should continue normal operations. For now, Fairfax Connector is operating on a normal schedule.
A spokesperson for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) said that changes in service levels are possible in the future, but no plans have been finalized yet.
Overall, ridership has taken a hit, but it’s too soon to tell by how much, according to Robin Geiger, an FCDOT spokeswoman.
The Fairfax Connector’s operations contractor has implemented a more rigorous vehicle cleaning cycle with “a special focus on bus interiors and critical touchpoints such as door handles, handrails, and other surfaces,” according to FCDOT.
The contractor is also working with its workforce to ensure employees are informed about coronavirus and measures to slow its spread.
Passengers should continue to practice ways to prevent spreading COVID-19 by washing hands often with soap and water, avoiding touching your eyes nose or mouth, and avoiding contact with people who are sick.
As of Thursday morning, the Virginia Department of Health says there are 77 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the commonwealth, with 14 in Fairfax County.
This story also appeared on our sister site Reston Now
Fairfax Connector shared the steps being taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, as more cases are reported in the D.C. area.
Fairfax County’s Department of Transportation announced on Friday (March 6) that contractors are following these steps:
- reviewed and updated cleaning protocols based on guidance from public health officials
- increased vehicle cleaning cycles with a special focus on bus interiors and critical touchpoints such as door handles, handrails and other surfaces.
- initiated regular communication with Fairfax Connector workforce
Fairfax County also has suggestions for passengers to curtail the rapidly-spreading illness:
- wash hands often with soap and water and use hand sanitizer
- avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing
- avoid contact with people who are sick
- stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others
“FCDOT highly values the health and safety of Fairfax Connector customers and personnel,” the county said.
Virginia has three “presumptive” cases of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
Updated at 3:30 p.m. — Routes 630, 640 and 650 will also not operate a full Sunday service today, the county announced this afternoon.
Fairfax Connector is continuing to cut its bus service today (Thursday) due to worker strikes, impacting commuters in the Tysons area.
The strike today came after negotiations for a contract extension didn’t pan out, along with a strike at a Metro garage in Lorton. Strikes are taking place until 5 p.m. today in Herndon, Newington and Fairfax.
In an announcement yesterday (Wednesday), Fairfax County said that Fairfax Connector routes will operate on a Sunday service today.
This morning (Thursday), the county said that five routes that were set to operate on a Sunday schedule won’t run today, including routes 423 and 721 in the Tysons area, and that several routes — 505, 983, 981, RIBS 2 and RIBS 4 — will not operate full Sunday service today.
That leaves Fairfax Connector with about one-third of its bus routes still in service today.
More from the county’s transportation department:
The contract between Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1764, the union representing the bus drivers and mechanics, and Transdev, Fairfax County’s contracted bus operator, expired on Nov. 30, 2019.
As a result of the job action, Transdev does not expect all drivers represented by ATU Local 1764 to report for work on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, and bus service will be operated by a limited number of available personnel. The decision was made to operate a Sunday schedule instead of a weekday schedule because that is believed to be the maximum level of reliable bus service that can be provided under the current circumstances.
Fairfax County officials are urging commuters to find other forms of transportation today.
⚠️Fairfax Connector bus service will operate Sunday schedule today due to a job action by Fairfax Connector drivers and mechanics. Please visit:https://t.co/ztkygOkVhq to learn which routes will and will not be operating today and disregard weekday buses shown in BusTracker.
— Fairfax Connector (@ffxconnector) December 5, 2019