Smooth Sailing for Silver Line's First Monday Morning Commute

As many as 25,000 daily riders could use the five new stations after a year of service

The Silver Line's first Monday morning commute went off without a hitch, with most commuters enjoying the new connection between Northern Virginia and D.C.

Ossie Neal was one of the first riders to tell News4 that she was pleased.

"I only had one train before; now I have the choice of two," she said.

The new Silver Line makes the Metro system 10 percent larger. The Associated Press reported that almost 10,000 people used the new stations during Monday's morning rush hour. About 7,500 of those trips were taken by 9 a.m., Metro said.

Many people told News4 that their journey was pleasant. One rider, Dane Angkico, said he was pleased that his train at East Falls Church station was on time.

"They said it would come in 21 minutes, and it came in 21 minutes," he said.

Another rider, Elsie Isaac, said that her commute might have been shortened by as much as 30 minutes by the new service.

But not every rider is experiencing a shorter commute.


Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia local news, events and information

Arlington home explodes after suspect fires flare gun: Police

Winter Wonderland is a special night for military kids

Passengers on the Blue Line have already noticed significant changes, as two trains per hour were converted to Yellow Line service to accommodate the Silver Line. That change began last week when Metro began operating a simulated Silver Line service to prepare for the line's official opening.

Metro said it's attempting to balance Blue Line delays with more eight-car trains.

Metro spokesperson Dan Stossel told the Associated Press that Wiehle-Reston East was the 12th busiest station on the Metro network Monday, with more than 4,700 passengers boarding and 1,000 exiting.

Conversely, ridership at the three western-most stations on the Orange Line was down by about 30 percent Monday, as about 7,000 local residents shifted to the Silver Line. Most are bus riders who used to get dropped off at West Falls Church.

As a result, Metro said there was more parking available at Orange Line lots, and more room on Orange trains.

"Best commute I have had in [the] 5 years I've lived at Court House," commuter Annie Hughes posted on Twitter.

But come riders told News4 that the Silver Line was still on probation. Gautem Uttamsingh was commuting for the first time and said he was testing it out.

"If the testing doesn't work out in the first week, I'll have to think of other ways," he said.

There were adjustments for everyone. Some passengers were seen attempting to take cups of coffee or their bikes onto the trains, although bikes are forbidden during rush hour, as are food and drinks all the time.

Commuters also have to navigate a new system of buses that serve the new stations.

Riders will also have to adjust to the fact that only one of the five new stations -- Wiehle-Reston East -- has parking. Cars parked illegally in nearby garages and lots can be ticketed and towed. Some commuters received tickets for stopping in the bus lanes at the McLean station, too.

News4's Megan McGrath found that some of the announcements were difficult to hear, which follows reports during construction that all speakers on the line had to be ripped out and replaced.

The brand-new facilities have mostly impressed riders so far. The first person to exit the Tysons Corner station, Ed Thurston, told News4's Adam Tuss that the new stations were "a lot better than the old stations."

"It's a little different but it's actually nicer," Thurston said.

But one rider tweeted concerns that lighting might be an issue at Wiehle-Reston East.

Silver Line trains will run every six minutes during rush hour, and every 12 minutes during midday, evenings and weekends. Trains will run every 20 minutes during late-night hours. 

The new line opened at noon Saturday, and the launch was a busy one: Metro reported on its Twitter account that 32,147 people entered or exited at one of the five new stations during the first 15 hours of use.

Saturday's launch saw at least one glitch, when a train overshot the platform at the Tysons Corner station and had to back up.

The $2.9 billion first phase of the Silver Line includes five stations: McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East. The 11.7 miles of new track branches off from the Orange Line at the East Falls Church station, and stretches from Tysons Corner through Reston. 

The complicated construction process was dogged by problems earlier this year, which included the head of the project stepping down in April.

The line's success will be judged by passengers in the coming weeks.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us