Updated at 5:05 p.m. — Tysons Reporter interviewed FCDOT Director Tom Biesiadny, who provided more information about the driver shortage and advice for bus riders.
The Fairfax Connector currently doesn’t have enough bus drivers.
A service operation alert on the Fairfax Connector BusTracker website today (May 7) says that the shortage is affecting the entire bus system. The alert says:
The Fairfax Connector bus operations contractor is experiencing a shortage of bus drivers which is impacting service delivery. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate our passengers’ patience as the contractor is working diligently to recruit drivers and add staffing, when possible, to minimize further impacts.
Tom Biesiadny, the director of Fairfax County’s transportation department, told Tysons Reporter that work is underway with MV Transportation, the current bus system’s operator, on the shortage.
“We are working with the contractor to make sure we have the staff that is needed to operate the bus system on a daily basis,” he said.
In addition to the contractor hiring more drivers — something that Biesiadny said has always been a challenge in the area, FCDOT is working to figure out which routes will be least impacted by missed or delayed buses.
“What we’re trying to do is to ensure that if there are trips that are going to be missed that we make sure that it’s not affecting the same route all of the time,” he said.
He said that the driver shortage varies day by day, with Fridays tending to be more problematic. “This is a relatively recent problem to the extent it is affecting all of our trips,” he said.
The shortages began about a week after the announcement that Fairfax County awarded a five-year contract to Transdev North America to operate the Fairfax Connector starting July 1.
Biesiadny said that the contractor switch may be one of the causes behind the shortage.
“Anytime you’re transitioning from one contractor to another contractor there are uncertainties in the workforce,” he said. “I wouldn’t discount that. I wouldn’t say that’s the entire reason.”
Some people took to Twitter to share delayed buses — or ones that never showed up at all — have caused transportation headaches.
Yo, @ffxconnector, what's up with the 631 bus? Three times this week the 6am EB bus has been a no show. When is this issue going to be resolved? Telling riders to check the Bus Tracker isn't a solution when we're already out there waiting for a bus that only comes 2x an hour.
— Bekki Weaver (@noitsbekki) May 2, 2019
@ffxconnector why does the bus on route 651 not show up at the scheduled time around 6:40 am for the past two mornings??? The wait time is causing a lot of ppl to run late to work due to inconsistency in following the schedule.
— RN (@rnmair121) May 3, 2019
461 and 466 not running? People need to get to work but we've spent the last hour waiting for buses that area not coming @ffxconnector????? No communication unless someone calls to complain? We need another provider of public transportation… So frustrating!!!!!!!!!
— Young J Kim (@YoungJ91) May 3, 2019
— narayana sundaram (@narayanais) May 2, 2019
One person noted that the same driver shortage alert popped up earlier this month on Friday, May 3.
Fairfax Connector alert: buses might be late because MV Transportation doesn't have enough bus drivers.
(Is this a short-term thing, just today? Long-term? What are the impacts? I have several questions?) pic.twitter.com/CHp0KPl7Xv
— Stephen Repetski (@srepetsk) May 3, 2019
The reader who tipped Tysons Reporter off about the shortage also expressed concern for people using alternative transportation in the Tysons-area tomorrow (May 8) — the same day that some Uber and Lyft drivers plan to strike.
Biesiadny stressed the importance of planning trips and using resources like Twitter, Facebook, BusTracker, texting stop IDs to 414-11 and the customer service number as a way for people to find out the bus schedules.
“We’re trying to reach out to passengers but also we also want passengers to reach out to us,” he said.
Photo via Facebook
Locals can provide input on proposed road improvements near Tysons Corner Center at a meeting tonight (Wednesday).
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) have teamed up to provide residents the opportunity to speak directly with road engineers and transportation planners at a community meeting.
VDOT and FCDOT are considering a redesign of the connection between Gallows Road, Tysons One Place and Route 7, possibly creating a three-way stop condition at the intersection of Kidwell Drive and Tysons One Place to improve traffic flow.
The design also suggests creating a designated space for left-turning vehicles and bike lanes in both directions on Kidwell Drive, which would complete the designated bike route between the Washington and Old Dominion Trail and downtown Tysons.
A separate proposal would stripe parking lanes where parking is allowed along West Street.
The meeting is set to start at 6 p.m. at the Providence Community Center at 3001 Vaden Drive in Fairfax.
The comment period for the proposal ends on April 3. Paving work will then start later that month and end in November.
Come support new #bikelanes south of @tysonspartners tonight at 6:30 (mtg @ 3001 Vaden Dr, 22031).@fairfaxcounty and @VaDOT study to redesign connection between Gallows Road, @ShopTysons, Route 7, @WODTrail. #bikeva
Learn more, attend, comment!https://t.co/4KBE7IPL2M pic.twitter.com/mC4pBYPgWM
— Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling (@BikeFairfax) March 13, 2019
Photo via Fairfax County
Skepticism About McLean Intersection Plan — “While there were a few who expressed their overall approval for Fairfax County Department of Transportation’s (FCDOT) recommendation for improvements to the Balls Hill Road and Old Dominion Drive intersection in McLean, the majority of those who attended the meeting at Cooper Middle School on the evening of Nov. 28 were less than satisfied with the outcome of more than two years of study and analysis.” [McLean Connection]
Disruptive Restaurant Employee Arrested — “Vienna police on Nov. 20 at 3:01 a.m. dispatched officers to Amphora Restaurant, 377 Maple Ave., W., after receiving a report that an employee, who appeared to be intoxicated, was yelling at customers.” [InsideNova]
Starbucks Customers Threatened in Falls Church — “Police responded for a report of an unknown subject approaching customers and threatening physical harm. Following an investigation, the suspect was identified, and the victim declined prosecution.” [City of Fall Church]
Flu Shots at Grocery Stores — “Giant Food announced today that flu shots are once again available at all of its in-store pharmacies for both adults and children. The vaccinations are administered by Giant’s certified in-store pharmacists and are often covered in-full by most insurance plans.” [FairfaxNews]