What is the Silver Line, and Where Will it Go?

New Silver Line stations opening around the end of 2013. (Click for full map)

New Silver Line stations (Click for full map)

You may have heard about the Silver Line – but what is it, and where will it go? What’s nearby the new stations? To go along with the open houses on the Silver Line this week, here’s a primer on some Silver Line basics:

What is the Silver Line? A new Metrorail extension in Virginia serving Tysons Corner and Reston.  Phase 1 is nearing completion now and will open around December 2013. Phase 2 is just beginning construction, and will serve Dulles International Airport and beyond. Because the line serves the Dulles corridor and will eventually serve the Airport, the Silver Line is sometimes called the “Dulles Corridor Metrorail Extension.”

Where will the Silver Line go? The new tracks will branch off from the Orange Line between East Falls Church and West Falls Church. There will be five new stations in Phase 1 – four clustered around Tysons Corner, and one farther west at Wiehle Avenue in Reston. Phase 2 will reach Dulles Airport and beyond in several years.

What can I get to from the Silver Line? Most of Tysons Corner will be within a half-mile of a Silver Line station, or about a 15-minute walk.  That includes Tysons Galleria and Tysons Corner Center shopping malls, restaurants, and the nearly 100,000 jobs in the area.

How will the Silver Line connect with the other Metrorail lines? Traveling east, Silver Line trains will join the existing Orange Line just west of East Falls Church, and then travel all the way through downtown D.C. to Largo Town Center, serving all stations along the way just like the Orange and Blue Lines. The Metro map will be redesigned to show the Silver Line, in addition to existing Orange and Blue lines, through downtown D.C.

Who is building this new line? WMATA is not building the Silver Line, the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority (MWAA) is.  Over the course of this year, Metro is getting ready to receive, inspect, oversee, and operate the line as a normal Metrorail line.

Construction nearing completion on the Silver Line, Weihle Ave station.

Construction nearing completion on the Silver Line, Wiehle Ave station.

When Will it Open?  Anyone who’s had work done to their house knows that an exact schedule can be hard to predict with big construction projects, especially with the finishing touches at the end. Metro is currently preparing all the new staff and other resources needed to operate this new line. Nevertheless, MWAA expects be substantially complete with construction by August 2013. Metro will need several months after that to inspect and accept the new infrastructure, and if all goes well the line should open in December 2013.

Fares on the Silver Line will be charged the same way as the rest of the system.  Under today’s fare structure, a one-way peak ride from Metro Center to Tysons Corner will be approximately $4.70, and the 20-mile, 40-minute ride all the way to Wiehle Avenue is long enough that it will reach the maximum rail fare of $5.75.  From Rosslyn at peak times, Tysons Corner will be $4.00, and Wiehle Avenue will be $5.75.

How frequently will the Silver Line run?  It will have the same hours as the rest of Metrorail.  At rush hours, trains will arrive every 6 minutes. At off-peak times and weekends, trains will arrive every 12-15 minutes – the same as other lines.

  • Monday-Thursday, 5:00am to midnight
  • Friday, 5:00am to 3:00am (Saturday)
  • Saturday, 7:00am to 3:00am (Sunday)
  • Sunday, 7:00am to midnight

Will it be crowded? Maybe not at the beginning, but we expect the line to attract around 25,000 boardings per day (or 50,000 riders per day going to and from the new stations) in the first couple of years – around a third of which will actually be customers switching from the Orange Line to the Silver Line because it’s more convenient for them.

What are you doing to get the word out about all this stuff? Lots, including this blog post! But more important, we’re holding a series of public workshops now, distributing materials and answering questions at the affected stations, and issuing materials to the media. As 2013 progresses, you should start to see new system maps and other signage in stations and on trains.

Will anything happen to the bus system? Yes! Many bus routes are changing in response to the new rail service.

Will anything happen to the rest of the rail schedule? Yes, and it depends on the time of day. At peak times, we will be changing the rail schedule to accommodate the Silver Line. At off-peak times, the Silver Line is simply an increase in service – everyone between Wiehle Avenue and Largo Town Center will see more trains than they do today. The Blue Line, in particular, will experience fewer trains during the peak. See our detailed post on the changes coming to the rail schedules.

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  1. LeGrande
    April 23rd, 2013 at 17:39 | #1

    my question is related to completion. The predicted date of completion include Largo Town Center? Also, is there a plan to get from Largo Town Center to Rockville without having to go downtown first?

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  2. none
    May 7th, 2013 at 17:32 | #2

    What is REALLY NEEDED are some trains that run from either VIENNA xor WIEHLE AVE to PENTAGON and CRYSTAL CITY. There are thousands of folks who live in Virginia to the north or west of the Pentagon who work at the Pentagon. These changes create big incentives for those folks to give up on the blue line entirely and drive or switch to a Fairfax Connector bus.

    The Pentagon is the world’s largest office building and the largest single employment location in metro DC. Why oh why was it ignored in Silver Line planning ? Sigh.

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  3. waldorf, md
    August 13th, 2013 at 10:24 | #3

    Can we please extend the green line into Charles County, MD to include waldorf, brandywine and laplata…these areas have increased in popluation..there are Coach buses living these areas ever 10mins during rush hour to bring us from the suburbs into downtown dc. Now these Coach buses are not enough, they are over crowded…we need a metro rail, please so we can get to our jobs in DC and N.VA. The traffic is ridiculous on route 210 and route 5 trying to get into the inner city

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  4. RyanD
    August 15th, 2013 at 10:26 | #4

    @none They did look at this, and I think it is a good idea too. I would, however, require modifications to the track at rosslyn: http://planitmetro.com/2013/07/12/new-blue-line-connections/

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  5. Simone
    November 14th, 2013 at 13:42 | #5

    I agree with Waldorf MD. I lived in Waldorf for over 12 years and at one point there was a metro bus that was commuting from Branch Ave Metro Station into Waldorf, MD but was cancelled about 6 months I think due to the lack of riders. I could not take riding the Keller Bus (now the Dillion Bus) and paying at that time 5 years ago $38.50 a month to get to DC to ride on the metro to the Pentagon. The bus and the train combined would have me travelling 3 hours to and from home daily. I moved to Virginia 5 years ago to ease the pains of paying more to commute in but I am buying my home in Southern Maryland and am dreading the commute again. Charles and St. Mary’s counties are increasing heavily in the population and as more and more people are moving south, the expansion with route 301/5 lanes are not enough to ease congestion. A metro line that connects Southern Maryland to DC would create increase funds money for metro and would help commuters who struggle daily with their long commutes. Please consider this in the next planning of metro extension line.

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  6. Allison Davis
    November 14th, 2013 at 13:57 | #6

    @Simone

    @waldorf, md

    Thanks for your comments. We have looked at this corridor as part of our 2040 Regional Transit System Plan (RTSP). Unfortunately, the density of jobs and employment along the corridor, potential ridership, and connections to Regional Activity Centers did not stack up well, especially when compared to other regionally significant corridors. However, all hope may not be lost. Maryland Transit Administration completed the Southern Maryland Transit Corridor Preservation Study in August, 2010 that looked at bus rapid transit or light rail along that corridor. You can see the final report here: http://mta.maryland.gov/sites/default/files/final_report.pdf.

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