Lower fares, expanded service to increase bus ridership
May 31, 2012
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (May 31) -- Fairfax County Officials may soon reduce the fair rate and add stops to the Fairfax Connector 335 peak hour route.
The fare will drop from $3.65 with a SmarTrip card or $3.85 with cash to $1.50 or $1.70, respectively.
The reduced rate will increase to $1.60 and $1.80 July 1 to match the Metro bus Fare increases.
Additional stops to Route 335 include Graves Fitness Center on Abbott Road, the U.S. Postal Service Office on 21st Street and the Warrior Transition Complex on Ninth Street.
The Fort Belvoir Community hospital stop is moving from the front of the facility to the rear to provide better service to several employment facilities between 3rd and 6th Streets.
The 335, currently known as the Eagle Express, will also be renamed "The Eagle," because of the additional stops with headways expected around 25 minute intervals. These changes hinge on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors' approval during a June 19 vote with implementation occurring June 30, according to Laura Miller, Fairfax County BRAC Coordinator.
"We feel pretty confident they're going to go through as proposed," Miller said.
Fairfax County may announce additional changes after the board of supervisor approves the changes.
The implementation of changes will coincide with the stoppage of several garrison and tenant run free employee shuttles including the post's internal shuttle.
"The 335 is trying to increase their ridership on the bus so upper management agreed that all the free shuttles would discontinue on the first of July to encourage people to utilize the 335," said Juniata Green, garrison transportation demand management coordinator.
The service, which started in July, features two 15-passenger vans that transport people to nearby offices during peak hours weekdays.
Green said the stoppage of this shuttle and other shuttles meets Army Regulation 58-1, Management, Acquisition, and Use of Motor Vehicles, which states government transportation will not compete with commercial transportation.
Green also said the internal shuttle, currently experiencing about 100 riders weekly, isn't meeting expectations.
Neither is the route 335 which is also experiencing 100 riders daily, according to Miller.
Fairfax County officials would like the figure to increase to 400.
"The current ridership has been pretty disappointing," Miller said. "We certainly hoped it would be more."
The hope is the changes, in conjunction with the stoppage of post shuttles, will boost the ridership and allow "The Eagle" to pay for itself.
The 335 started in September as a means to help a portion of Belvoir's 39,000 employees avoid traffic congestion and reduce car emissions by using the express service from Franconia-Springfield Metro Station to post.
The bus currently travels through Telegraph Gate and stops at the front of Fort Belvoir Community Hospital; John Kingman Road; Jackson Loop; 12th Street and Gorgas Road near the commissary.
Miller said Belvoir and County officials included stops around more popular areas such as eateries and employment areas with the hope of attracting more customers.
The extension of the route to 21st street will also accommodate employees working on south post.
Miller is anxious to see ridership improve with the changes and said Fairfax County will provide a map and schedule once changes are approved and finalized.