It has been a rough ride recently for the Washington area’s subway system.
In February, a passenger died in a smoke-filled train car. Chronic delays, mechanical failures and poor customer service at Metro have enraged daily commuters.
But the Silver Line, which opened for business last July, has been a bright spot for Metro. While there are some complaints, Jewish Northern Virginians interviewed by Washington Jewish Week overall are pleased with the $2.6 billion, 11.7-mile extension that takes commuters to the eastern edge of Reston through the Tysons Corner area. The second phase will extend into Loudoun County via Dulles International Airport and is scheduled to begin service in 2018.
“I’m extremely happy with the Silver Line. It was well overdue,” said Sarah Jacobs, 35, of Vienna.
Jacobs said that the Silver Line shaved 40 minutes off her commute downtown where she works at the Department of Homeland Security. In the morning she boards at Greensboro station and on her return trip gets off at Spring Hill station, a five-minute drive from her home. She used to have to take a bus from West Falls Church on the Orange Line.
But Reston resident Ruth Stromberg, 56, and Sterling resident Sheri Brown, 59, who were commuting to their jobs in Washington before the Silver Line opened, said that their commutes were shorter and less expensive.
They used to ride a commuter bus that would zip them along the Dulles Access Road to West Falls Church where they would connect with the Orange Line. But that service ended when the Silver Line opened.
Stromberg said taking the Silver Line added up to 30 minutes to her commute, and that before the switch she never had to add money to her monthly government transportation subsidy. Most months she now adds $40.
Brown tried the Silver Line for a month. But she gave up and started driving to her job in Cleveland Park. She said the commute was adding an extra half-hour and another $2.40 for each round-trip.
“I think it’s excellent for public transportation, excellent for Reston. It’s great. It’s a shame that it takes me longer with it,” said Stromberg.
Silver Line rider Zach Seidenberg, 36, who lives in Reston and works near Metro Center, said express trains similar to those that exist for New York City commuters would help. But unlike the New York subway system, Metro wasn’t designed with a third center rail that can separate express trains from local trains. Still, Seidenberg said overall the Silver Line is a positive development for the Northern Virginia region.
“There is the convenience factor to having the train there in Reston and there’s an economic factor to having the train run through Tysons and then out to Dulles Airport eventually,” said
The Silver Line also increases options on weekends. Brown said she uses the Silver Line to go to Nationals baseball games. Gail Fisher, 66, of McLean, said she uses the Silver Line to attend plays, dine at restaurants, go shopping and visit museums. She also said the stations look nice, too.
“When they finished building the stations, it was hard to tell what [they were] going to look like, and I certainly was concerned that it was going to be a real eyesore cutting right across the whole Tysons area,” said Fisher. “But now that they’ve completed it, the Metro stations are actually very attractively built and the whole thing looks nice and it make us look more urban. I don’t have any complaints about it at all. It doesn’t look the way I feared.”