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The Future of Dulles Airport [and Metro line]

The Future of Dulles Airport [and Metro line]

Old Jan 13, 15, 11:17 pm
  #196  
 
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Originally Posted by DCA writer View Post

Look, I've never worked on or run a bus system in my life, so I must be missing some finer points here. But does the scheduling have to be tuned to worst-case traffic all the time?
Certainly not. Many of WMATA's schedules take into account traffic levels based on time of day.
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Old Jan 14, 15, 9:48 am
  #197  
 
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This bus-lag issue we're discussing is not unique to the 981/983 route. The Tysons Corner blog had a great post last weekend about how Fairfax Connector undermines its Tysons buses' utility by not offering real-time arrival estimates and then compensating for potential delays by padding out the schedule with long waits at stops.
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Old Jan 15, 15, 2:29 pm
  #198  
 
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Trip report for the slog to IAD on 1/1/15:

We were staying at the Hyatt Arlington primarily because of its proximity to Rosslyn station, where we could catch the 5A to Dulles. We arrived at the bus station (which is now moved down the street due to construction across from Rosslyn on Moore St.) right on time for our 4:13 PM bus.

Wrong. Waited for 20 minutes and no bus. Consulted the online WMATA site the entire time, which made -zero- mention of the fact that on New Year's Day, the buses operated on a Sunday schedule. I only found out that tidbit by calling some hotline listed at the bus station.

Was not going to wait the 45+ minutes for another 5A to show up. So back down the escalators to Rosslyn. Next westbound Silver Line was like 15 minutes away; not sure how that even happens. Got on the Orange line and took it out to George Mason, I think, and waited on the next Silver to Wiehle. It arrived and we took it through Virginia for what seemed like hours, but was probably only like 30 minutes.

Not much signage at Wiehle yet for the Silver Line Express buses, so we just followed the crowd downstairs (turning left out of Wiehle). Then, onto the Silver Line Express, which was like a 10 minute ride for 5 bucks. You pay as you exit the bus, where a lady was yelling at us to pay and asked if we were on the bus. I saw no indication that it was not super easy to cheat the system and just walk right into the airport without paying.

Final Verdict: I'm flying out of DCA next time
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Old Jan 15, 15, 6:08 pm
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Take a cab. I refuse to take public transport to IAD. It's not cheap but my sanity is worth 50 bucks.
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Old Jan 16, 15, 1:58 pm
  #200  
 
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Originally Posted by nineworldseries View Post
Wrong. Waited for 20 minutes and no bus. Consulted the online WMATA site the entire time, which made -zero- mention of the fact that on New Year's Day, the buses operated on a Sunday schedule. I only found out that tidbit by calling some hotline listed at the bus station.
Ick. Metro's mobile site has sizable links to rail and bus advisories, but that info is easier to miss on the desktop site. But in any case: Given the choice between waiting on the street for the 5A and waiting downstairs for the Silver Line, I'd go with the train even on a holiday.

The 5A is, as you saw, not that reliable, to the point that I can't even count on it arriving when NextBus real-time data says it will. And then you have I-66 traffic to contend with, which can congeal any day of the week.

I guess the larger point here is that a year ago, I expected better things from Phase 1 of the Silver Line. My hope was that when you got off the train at Wiehle, you'd have not one bus but four--a more frequent and cheaper Washington Flyer, a re-routed 5A and two Fairfax Connector routes that would take a little longer but cost less than the other options.

Instead, we only have MWAA's more frequent and cheaper bus. WMATA couldn't be bothered to edit the 5A's stops to account for almost $3 billion in new rail infrastructure, and Fairfax Connector appears incapable or unwilling to meet the standards of most other bus systems around D.C.

The Silver Line and the Silver Line Express by themselves work sufficiently well for me not to think about taxis (though I won't rule out jumping in a cab from Wiehle to IAD if I just miss a bus there). But my experiences over the last several months leave me even more anxious to see Phase 2 of the Silver Line enter revenue service. That cannot happen fast enough for me.
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Old Jan 17, 15, 10:57 am
  #201  
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Originally Posted by nineworldseries View Post
Was not going to wait the 45+ minutes for another 5A to show up. So back down the escalators to Rosslyn.
Great report and it rings sadly true. As DCAWriter has pointed out the 5A is notoriously erratic any day, any time.

Originally Posted by nineworldseries
Next westbound Silver Line was like 15 minutes away; not sure how that even happens. Got on the Orange line and took it out to George Mason, I think, and waited on the next Silver to Wiehle. It arrived and we took it through Virginia for what seemed like hours, but was probably only like 30 minutes.
Weekend Metrorail is also notoriously infrequent, which means painfully slow travel.

Originally Posted by nineworldseries
Not much signage at Wiehle yet for the Silver Line Express buses, so we just followed the crowd downstairs (turning left out of Wiehle). Then, onto the Silver Line Express, which was like a 10 minute ride for 5 bucks. You pay as you exit the bus, where a lady was yelling at us to pay and asked if we were on the bus. I saw no indication that it was not super easy to cheat the system and just walk right into the airport without paying.
When the Silver Line Express pulls out of Wiehle the driver radios back to HQ the number of passengers on board. When they disembark at the Dulles curb they are counted carefully and shepherded inside to the pay point. It is a dumb system but I think they would tackle you if you just tried to slide past the pay-here desk and into the terminal.
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Old Jan 22, 15, 8:09 am
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Re: the bus waiting at intermediate stops, I've had a bus driver (on a WMATA route, not Fairfax Connector) tell me that they get docked if they leave a time point stop early.

I realize you wouldn't want to penalize them for being late due to traffic, so what sometimes happens is they are deliberately late to prevent having to wait at intermediate points.
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Old Feb 2, 15, 8:49 am
  #203  
 
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I have not tried the Silver Line Express bus yet but have tried the other two options to IAD and then used the Washington Flyer Bus when it operated. Here are my takes on the different options:

5A- I tried hard to think about why would anyone want to take it over the other options. I came up with they are traveling on the green line and the bus was there and the other two were not. It is the least reliable, most expensive and least comfortable public transportation option to/from IAD. As long as I live, I will refuse to take the 5A. Way too many variables that could make the trip miserable( traffic in DC, 395, Rosslyn, 66, crowded bus that you never knew your body could move like that etc).

Fairfax Connector 981/983- Knock on wood but maybe I have been lucky traveling with Fairfax Connector buses. They have been reliable for the most part. Seats are fine and it goes to places that I need to. The buses take a while to get from Wiehle to/from Dulles but a very good option. The 3 times I have taken it, there have been maybe 5 people on the bus combined with me. I think people need to promote it a lot more than the 5A and Silver Line Express bus. Seats are very comfortable, while no rack to put luggage in still plenty of space to put them on the seats etc.

Silver Line Express- The Bus stop for the Silver Line Express is right next to the Fairfax Connector 981/983 bus at Wiehle. Regardless of when you arrive at the station, there seems be to be always a Silver Line bus. For the guy who said there was bad signage, I could have sworn there was signage for the Silver Line Express when you leave the station. Regardless, if it is anything like the Washington Flyer Bus was it was extremely reliable, very relaxing etc.

I will take going to Wiehle Station 100 times out of 100 even on weekends when they are running every 15+ minutes. It is a lot more relaxing being at the first stop on the line than getting limited space on the 5A bus.

Let's look at worst case scenario: If somehow the Silver Line and 981/983 buses are not there at Wiehle, you can always take a fairly cheap cab ride to IAD. When there are problems with the 5A , you pretty much screwed if you are on it. You can go back down the metro to Wiehle but it could have saved you an extra 20+ minutes with staying on the metro out to Wiehle.
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Old Feb 6, 15, 8:58 pm
  #204  
 
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Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project progress update e-mail 02 04 2015

Phase 2 Construction Marches Along at Dulles

While ridership on Phase 1 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project (Silver Line) continues to meet and exceed expectations since opening last summer, the pace of Phase 2 construction building. Most of the work continues to take place at Dulles Airport but work has also extended onto the Dulles International Airport Access Highway, Dulles Toll Road and Dulles Greenway.

The design-build contractor for Phase 2, Capital Rail Constructors, is focused on building approximately 200 piers to support the aerial guideway at Dulles.

The first girders, which provide horizontal support to the piers for the aerial guideway, are expected to arrive in late winter and will be delivered to Dulles Airport. The girders average 150 feet long, 8 feet tall and 190,000 pounds. Delivery and installation of these massive beams will require use of multiple cranes which will, in turn, necessitate lane closures and possible detours on the Airport property. Project crews are developing extensive plans for managing traffic during this time and the public will be informed of any impacts prior to work beginning.

Work is also taking place on Autopilot Drive near car rental agencies and police/fire facilities. Work is these areas will intensify in the spring.


Dulles Airport Construction: Pier construction in the airport's cargo area.
Photo courtesy of Capital Rail Constructors

Wintertime Blues

Old Man Winter is taking its toll on some Phase 2 construction. Paving and striping work cannot take place when temperatures hit the freezing mark so some work has been delayed at some locations at Dulles, as well as the Dulles Access Highway and Dulles Toll Road.

Looking back a bit

Late last year, significant preparation work was done at the future location of the Dulles Airport Station along the Saarinen Circle side of the Parking Garage 1. Included in that work was the "recycling" of the mature trees in front of the garage. The trees were transplanted at a nursery on airport property and will be replanted as needed at other airport sites.


Map: Phase 2 route map<h2>Off the Airport Site</h2>Preliminary construction continues along some sections of the Dulles Greenway, west of the airport. The Greenway crosses over Broad Run, a tributary of the Potomac River, between the Route 606 and Loudoun County Parkway exits. Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project crews have begun construction of a bridge in the median of the Greenway at this location so the Silver Line may also cross over Broad Run. Similar construction is underway on the Dulles Access Highway at the Horsepen Run bridge at Dulles Airport, and will soon begin at the Centreville Road bridge.

Significant civil work will also begin this year in the Kiss & Ride area of Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride and at the future Herndon Station. Meetings will be held with county officials who operate the existing garage and residents of nearby neighborhoods in the coming weeks.


Greenway Construction: The map above shows the location of the Broad Run Bridge that is being constructed in the median of the Dulles Greenway.
<i>Graphic courtesy of Capital Rail Constructors</i>

###

Based on the opening above, the elevated at Dulles Airport will not utilize post-tension type construction for the spans. I could be wrong but it sound like some kind of steel beam will be used, either a steel box beam similar to the elevated crossing of the Capitol Beltway on the Red line in Bethesda or a pair of steel beams similar to the elevated at the Rhode Island Avenue station.
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Old Feb 10, 15, 8:12 am
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So mindnumbingly stupid that it won't go to the terminal, because of corrupt former Governor.
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Old Feb 10, 15, 5:17 pm
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Originally Posted by Alpha Golf View Post
So mindnumbingly stupid that it won't go to the terminal, because of corrupt former Governor.
Here we go again...

1. The stop was never going to go to the terminal; best case would have put it below the parking lot.

2. Convicted and soon-to-be-incarcerated former Gov. Bob McDonnell was in office when MWAA agreed to put the station aboveground, but his non-corrupt predecessor agreed that moving it there was worth saving a few hundred million dollars. So did Fairfax and Loudoun officials whose constituents will pay for much of that in tolls and taxes.

3. The underground station still would have had you walking for 440 feet, plus 110 feet of moving sidewalk; now you'll have to walk for 700 feet, with 450 feet of moving sidewalks. Hoofing it another 260 feet is a deal-breaker?

4. If it is, how can you stand the experience once you get into IAD proper?
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Old Feb 15, 15, 3:06 pm
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Alpha Golf
So mindnumbingly stupid that it won't go to the terminal, because of corrupt former Governor.


DCA writer correctly described the events the lead to the final location of the station.

I will also note, short of being dropped off or picked up at the front door you still will be closer to front door then all of the parking lots with the exception of the valet parking in front of the main terminal.

I don't recall this being mentioned under this thread heading, MWAA has a long term plans to build a land side Aerotrain line to access the parking lots, rental car agencies and various other amenities at Dulles Airport.

The station at the terminal end of the Aerotrain line is planed to be located under Commercial Vehicle Drive.

See Page 6, Volume V, Chapter 4, Dulles Airport, from the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, Final Environmental Impact Statement (3.29 MB PDF file).
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Old Feb 15, 15, 7:05 pm
  #208  
 
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Garage 2 is very close to the terminal especially if you can go straight to security and find a good spot. Not so if you have to check bag with UA at the other end.

If you have an EV then you get the best parking spots. Or if you are a Norwegian diplomat. I think it was pretty ballsy that he once parked his Jaguar in one of the EV recharging spots. Especially since Norway is one of the most left <redacted> (and number one Tesla operating per capita) nations.

Metro will be the same as G1, which is a bit of a hike and you have to descend and ascend several levels too, which takes time.

Last edited by JDiver; May 3, 15 at 9:45 am Reason: Redacted negative attributions
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Old Feb 17, 15, 5:00 am
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Originally Posted by gnaget View Post
Garage 2 is very close to the terminal especially if you can go straight to security and find a good spot. Not so if you have to check bag with UA at the other end.

If you have an EV then you get the best parking spots. Or if you are a Norwegian diplomat. I think it was pretty ballsy that he once parked his Jaguar in one of the EV recharging spots. Especially since Norway is one of the most left wing, kool-aid drinking (and number one Tesla operating per capita) nations.
This is one of those cases where the new social media can really make a difference. Sure, as a diplomat, he/she can't be ticketed/arrested. However, posting a pic of the offending car with a tweet or Facebook posting could end up creating the social media name and shame which will get that diplomat a scolding from the Norwegian government.
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Old Feb 17, 15, 7:43 am
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Originally Posted by SandBoxJohn View Post
[i]Alpha Golf
I don't recall this being mentioned under this thread heading, MWAA has a long term plans to build a land side Aerotrain line to access the parking lots, rental car agencies and various other amenities at Dulles Airport.

The station at the terminal end of the Aerotrain line is planed to be located under Commercial Vehicle Drive.
I don't believe that this will ever come to fruition and I don't think it's needed. Besides they haven't even gotten around to the point of having a wall painted to advertise the future train like the new "planned" C/D Concourse
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