Photo by Fairfax County on Flickr.

In a few months, Metro’s new Silver Line will open, and will mean major changes to commuters in Fairfax County. Reader Nick G. wants to know how long trips on the Silver Line will take.

Right now, commuters to and from Reston and Herndon often rely on a set of commuter buses that run express down the Dulles Toll Road to West Falls Church station. After the Silver Line opens, most of these buses will feed riders into the Silver Line instead of running all the way to meet the Orange Line at I-66.

But the Silver Line takes the scenic route through Tysons Corner instead of staying on the freeway. The 4 stops in Tysons will serve many of the offices and shopping centers in the business district, but they will also add time for riders merely passing through. How much? It looks like just a few minutes.

One of Nick’s questions is whether his trip from DC to Reston will get longer with the Silver Line. That will probably depend a lot on each individual commute, since people have different starting and ending points.

To get a sense of Nick’s commute, I looked at a commute from Metro Center to Reston Town Center using the Orange Line and the 505 Fairfax Connector bus. It takes 21 minutes to get from Metro Center to West Falls Church. Once on the 505, it takes 15 minutes to get to the Sunset Hills Park and Ride, near the Wiehle Avenue station. That’s a trip time of 36 minutes.

On the Silver Line, the ride from Metro Center to Wiehle Avenue is 40 minutes. That’s a little bit longer. If Fairfax reallocates some of those buses no longer used for commuter service, transit riders might save time by having shorter transfer times at Wiehle Avenue or at the Tysons stations. Fairfax County DOT has posted their bus operating plans that will go into effect once the Silver Line opens.


Graphic by the author.


The above graphic should help you figure out how your commute will compare.

The numbers in orange under each station’s name give the travel time to East Falls Church. Rosslyn, Metro Center, and L’Enfant Plaza are also shown. To get the travel time from Tysons Corner to Rosslyn, you’ll have to add the numbers. In that example, it will take 10 minutes to get from Tysons Corner to East Falls Church and another 12 minutes to get to Rosslyn (that’s 22 minutes).

If your station isn’t included, you can use Metro’s trip planner to find the travel time between it and East Falls Church.

The blue numbers on the left side of the graphic show the travel time between each station. It will take 9 minutes for the train to travel between Wiehle Avenue and Spring Hill, for example.

Metro hasn’t yet released a schedule for the line. So we can’t get too detailed about how long a trip will last, or how long transfers will be. But the travel time data in the graphic should give you a sense of how long your ride on the Silver Line will take.

Edit: Note, these data are courtesy of Nick Perfili at Fairfax County DOT.

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Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master’s in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Greenbelt. He’s a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. His views are his own and do not represent those of his employer.