By Tim Cherry, Belvoir EagleJanuary 12, 2012
Fort Belvoir Garrison and Fairfax County are working in tandem to possibly implement changes to the Fairfax Connector's 335, Eagle Express, bus route to make the bus more attractive to personnel.
The shuttle, which has had modest ridership since its inception, may soon have its route expanded and fare prices lowered, according to Paul Mounier, Fairfax County senior operating transit planner.
"We're working closely with the installation to improve the ridership and serve the people of the post better," Mounier said.
Mounier said the potential new route and fare price would be disclosed in the upcoming months.
Juanita Green, garrison transportation demand management coordinator, said ridership could improve from these changes.
She also said the numbers could increase as more tenant shuttles that serve the same consumers as the 335 route ceases operations.
"Make it closer to most employees' work sites," Green said. "By extending their routes they will increase their ridership."
The Eagle Express, which started in September, is a direct travel connection from Franconia-Springfield Metro Station to Belvoir.
The route runs during rush hours in the morning and afternoon and cost the regional express fare prices of $3.65 with a SmarTrip card or $3.85 with cash.
Garrison and Fairfax county officials both emphasize that people can transfer from the VRE to the Eagle Express, free of charge. Commuters transferring from the Metro have to pay the normal fee to ride the shuttle.
Passengers need to have a government-issued photo ID to ride this bus onto the military base.
The bus, which enters Belvoir through Telegraph Gate, stops at the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital; John Kingman Road; Jackson Loop; 12th Street and Gorgas Road near the commissary.
Green believes Fairfax could improve their ridership by expanding the route further down the south post area which she believes would encourage more personnel to use the shuttle.
The Eagle Express has averaged approximately 100 riders per day each month since it started.
Fairfax would like to see this number increase to 400.
The current figure may be low, but the consistency indicates that present riders are satisfied with service.
Staff Sgt. Erwin Arias, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital health physics, has been using the Eagle Express since the service commenced.
He's enjoyed his experience with the shuttle, which he says always arrives on time.
"It's been pretty good, very expedient not a lot of delays," Arias said.
He said people should consider using the shuttle because it's a good means for traveling to the metro and it reduces traffic and accidents.
Arias' one comment for improvement is that the shuttle should expand its hour of service for employees arriving early or staying later.