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Updated at 3:55 p.m. — Fairfax Connector service will stay suspended at least through this weekend (Feb. 24-25) as drivers and mechanics continue their strike, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation has announced.

FCDOT says it “expects negotiations to continue in good faith with the goal of completing a new contract very soon.”

Earlier: Stagnant wages. Eleven-hour work days with barely enough break time for a meal. Just seven days of sick leave, even after a pandemic that research suggests sickened and killed transit workers nationwide at an elevated rate.

Those are some of the challenges Fairfax Connector workers report facing under Transdev, the private company that Fairfax County hired in 2019 to operate its public bus system. In a bid for improved working conditions, more than 600 bus drivers and mechanics are now on their second day of a strike called yesterday (Thursday) by Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689.

“You have to make a choice. When is enough, enough? When do you stand up and fight back? It was time to stand up and fight back,” Sharon Forsyth said while picketing outside the West Ox Road Bus Facility where she works as a Fairfax Connector driver. “What the outcome would be, who knows? But at least my voice was heard…Treat us right. Fair contract, fair wages, sick leave. Give us something more than a slice of pizza and a handshake after 35 years of service.”

A relative newcomer who joined the Connector just over a year ago, Forsyth has worked in transportation for 37 years — including a previous stint with Transdev. The starting salary for drivers is nearly the same as it was 20 years ago, which is “unacceptable,” she says.

“You can’t afford the housing in this region. You can barely afford food in this region,” said Forsyth, who commutes from Prince William County. “So, that is the purpose of this. Nobody wants to be here, but we’re all here, you know? If you don’t take care of the people that run your business, you’ll soon be what? Out of business.”

Forsyth was one of about 128 people who showed up yesterday to march, chant and display signs at the West Ox facility (4970 Alliance Drive), which employs about 163 Connector workers, according to ATU Local 689 organizer Troy Barnes. Workers began convening around 2 a.m., rotating in three shifts.

Across all three Connector garages, including ones in Herndon (268 Spring Street) and Lorton (8101 Cinder Bed Road), about 97% of the workers represented by the union were expected to join a picket line, Barnes told FFXnow.

Authorized by members on Dec. 29, the strike call came after Local 689 and Transdev spent 12 bargaining sessions between October and last Friday, Feb. 16 trying to hammer out a new labor contract that will determine pay, benefits and working conditions, according to the union. Before the strike, workers were operating under a four-year contract that was negotiated after a four-day strike in December 2019 and expired on Nov. 30, 2023.

Fairfax Connector service will remain suspended until the strike is resolved, leaving around 26,000 daily bus riders in limbo, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation has said.

As reported yesterday, Transdev called the union’s work stoppage disappointing in a statement that detailed some of its contract proposals, including a 19.5% wage increase over three years, coverage for 90% of health care expenses and 50% of dental and vision expenses, and yearly performance bonuses of up to $5,300.

However, Barnes says the contractor’s offers for sick leave, retirement benefits and guaranteed work hours remain inadequate. Read More

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Fairfax Connector bus on Spring Hill Road (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) Fairfax Connector workers have launched a strike after months of negotiations for a new labor contract with Transdev, the company that operates Fairfax County’s bus service.

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689, which represents about 638 bus operators and mechanics for Fairfax Connector, announced the strike just after midnight today (Thursday). Workers began hitting picket lines at garages in Herndon, Lorton and on West Ox Road in the Fairfax area at 2 a.m.

Due to the walk-off, Fairfax Connector has suspended service on 93 of its routes, starting at 9 a.m. The bus system serves approximately 26,000 passengers daily, according to its website.

“We encourage our users to please use alternative methods of travel. We apologize for any inconvenience,” the transit agency said.

The bus system can’t resume operations until the drivers and mechanics return to work, a Fairfax County Department of Transportation spokesperson confirmed.

Members gave the union the authority to call a strike on Dec. 29, nearly a month after their existing contract with Transdev expired on Nov. 30.

In a news release, the union said there remains “a vast divide” between its demands and Transdev’s, and a strike became “unavoidable” after 12 bargaining sessions due to “Transdev’s unfair labor practices and regressive bargaining.” It also criticizes Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay for an alleged “refusal to weigh in.”

“The Union remains committed to bargaining in good faith to reach a tentative agreement on a new contract and intends to continue to meet with Transdev even while on strike,” Local 689 said in a statement. “Several key priorities in a new contract for Local 689 include true retirement security, more sick days, competitive wages for bus operators and mechanics with regional transit companies, and balanced labor-management rights.”

Transdev said in a statement that it’s “disappointed” the union initiated a strike despite what it describes as a “generous offer” that included $126,000 in annual pay and benefits for a majority of drivers and $128,000 annually in pay and benefits for 78% of mechanics represented by ATU.

“This unexpected action has had a severe impact on the community, particularly those who depend on the Fairfax Connector for their daily transportation needs,” the contractor said. “Transdev put forth a comprehensive proposal that includes significant wage increases, healthcare benefits, retirement savings, bonuses, guaranteed minimum hours, and additional perks tailored to employees of all experience levels.”

In a statement to FFXnow, McKay said it would’ve been “inappropriate” for him to interfere with the contract negotiations, since Fairfax County isn’t a directly involved party.

I have been in communication with the County Executive and his team throughout this process and was aware of the impasse. I was not, however, aware that a strike would occur which has left the almost 26,000 daily users of the Connector without the service they rely on. I fully support the ability of Connector drivers and mechanics to be treated, and compensated, fairly. The service they provide to our residents is high quality. I also support the ATU Local 689’s right to advocate on behalf of their members. My hope is that the union and Transdev can reach agreement on a contract that is in line with similar transit services in our neighboring jurisdictions and that respects the exemplary work of drivers and mechanics. Additionally, while transit service is essential, the cost is ultimately borne by our residents and must also be considered in these negotiations. Connector service needs to be sustainable not just now but in the future.

Connector workers last negotiated a contract in 2019. Then represented by ATU Local 1764, they went on strike for four days that December before signing an agreement to resume work on Dec. 8. A new, four-year contract was ratified on Feb. 29, 2020, averting a potential second strike.

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A man and kids walk in the snow past Appletree preschool in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County Public Schools is using up its first snow day of the year, canceling all classes and other activities on school grounds tomorrow (Tuesday) as flurries continue to blanket the D.C. area.

Affected activities include extracurricular programs, sports practices, field trips, outside recreation classes, adult education classes and the School Age Child Care (SACC) centers.

FCPS has 11 snow days built into its calendar, and unlike in the past couple of years, students don’t need to fear a shift to virtual classes after the first five days.

A Winter Weather Advisory is currently in effect for the county through 7 a.m. tomorrow. The National Weather Service projects that this storm could result in two to three inches of snow accumulation, along with possible freezing rain and drizzle, according to the Fairfax County Department of Emergency Management.

“Snow intensity will increase this evening before tapering off overnight,” the NWS said, warning that the “hazardous” road conditions could still affect tomorrow’s morning commute.

In anticipation of the roadways becoming a challenge, Fairfax Connector will reduce service starting at 8 p.m. today (Monday). The bus system will continue running several routes on a holiday weekday service, but some will end at or around 8 p.m.

Tomorrow, the Connector will implement a Saturday service schedule. A list of the specific routes that will be provided can be found on the Fairfax County Department of Transportation’s website, and minute-by-minute status updates will be available through BusTracker.

The George Washington Memorial Parkway has been temporarily closed in the McLean area. Due to ongoing construction, the National Park Service previously announced that the section from I-495 to Spout Run in Arlington would close if two or more inches of snow are forecast.

Here’s the full message from the NPS:

The George Washington Memorial Parkway, from 495 to Spout Run, is closed due to the forecasted severe winter weather in the area. This closure is necessary to ensure the proper treatment of the roadway and to restore the parkway to safe travel conditions. Crews will work diligently to treat the road for safe passage of drivers. Drivers should anticipate delays in reopening the northern section of the parkway as crews are required to use smaller equipment than usual to accommodate the lane widths and configurations. Please plan to use alternate routes.

A follow-up alert will be distributed once the parkway has reopened. Thank you in advance for your patience.

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Fairfax Connector bus (file photo)

(Updated at 4 p.m.) Hundreds of Fairfax Connector workers could strike if contract talks between their union and employer break down.

Nearly a month after the end of their existing contract with Transdev, which operates Fairfax County’s public bus system, union drivers, mechanics and other employees voted on Dec. 29 to authorize a strike, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 announced yesterday.

As a policy, the union didn’t disclose how many of the approximately 546 Fairfax Connector workers it represents participated in the vote, but 99% of those who did voted in support of authorization, a Local 689 spokesperson told FFXnow.

Despite the recent authorization vote, a strike call doesn’t appear to be imminent, as the union says it has another bargaining session scheduled for Jan. 19.

“For the past three months, Transdev has proven time and time again that they are more interested in hoarding their money than making necessary investments to improve their dedicated and hardworking employees’ wellbeing,” Local 689 President Raymond Jackson said in a statement. “Our members are fed up with Transdev’s flat out refusal to fully engage in meaningful bargaining over key economic issues and attempts to distort facts.”

The workers who support Northern Virginia’s largest public bus system have been negotiating a new labor contract since October, when Local 689 delivered its first proposal to Transdev. The union has said its priorities include pay increases, better sick leave, standard work schedules and retirement security.

Shortly before the existing contract expired on Nov. 30, the union reported progress on some issues, but it said Transdev’s proposed wages still fell short of what workers are seeking.

Now, the union says Transdev “finally presented a decent wage increase proposal,” but the company is pushing the union to drop its demands for “improved dental care and sick leave, retirement security, and more stable working hours.”

(Correction: This article initially said that, according to the union, Transdev had threatened to withdraw its offer of improved sick leave and other benefits in exchange for the wage increases. A union spokesperson clarified that those benefits weren’t offered. Instead, the proposed pay plan was “contingent” on the union dropping its other demands.)

Transdev, which was first hired by the county to operate Fairfax Connector in 2019, says it’s continuing “to bargain in good faith” with ATU Local 689.

“To date, we’ve agreed to over 50 modifications to the prior [collective bargaining agreement] and proposed significant improvements to wages & benefits,” Transdev said in an emailed statement. “We value our partnership with the ATU and remain hopeful that we can come to a mutually-agreeable resolution quickly.”

However, Local 689 claims that many of the contractor’s concessions are either “technical corrections or the bare minimum necessary changes to keep somewhat competitive with other transit entities in the region.”

“A vast divide between the two sides still remains,” the union said.

Serving approximately 26,000 passengers a day on 93 routes, Fairfax Connector is currently operating under the expired contract, which was ratified in early 2020 after workers went on a four-day strike in December 2019 and raised the possibility of a second walkout.

The county’s plan for handling a strike, if the current contract dispute isn’t resolved, aren’t yet clear. The Fairfax County Department of Transportation told FFXnow it “has no comments about a potential strike at the moment.”

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Fairfax Connector has unveiled three holiday bus wraps, including one featuring cookies (courtesy Fairfax County Department of Transportation)

Fairfax Connector will pull into the Fairfax County Government Center soon for its first-ever Winterfest.

Space is quickly disappearing for the public bus system’s holiday event, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9 in parking lot B of the government center (12000 Government Center Parkway).

Featuring three holiday-themed buses, free food and other treats, Winterfest is free to attend, but a general admission ticket is required for entry. As of this afternoon (Wednesday), more than half of the 500 available slots had been taken, according to the sign-up page.

Separate tickets for a planned Santa Bus, where visitors can meet jolly St. Nick, sold out within hours of going online, a Fairfax County Department of Transportation spokesperson says. In response to the demand, a second bus where attendees can get a free cookie from Mrs. Claus has been added.

Access to the “Cookies with Mrs. Claus” bus is included with general admission.

Winterfest will also feature free hot chocolate and kettle corn, games, music, a “Letters to Santa” station, and Duck donuts and Grill Cheese food trucks. Fairfax Connector will hand out coupons for free rides and other “goodies” throughout the event, according to a news release.

Following in the tracks of Metro, which has decorated a train and buses to resemble gingerbread houses, Fairfax Connector’s holiday buses hit the road earlier this week. They’re wrapped in plaid Christmas tree, Santa gnome and cookie designs.

“These buses are sure to bring a smile to your face,” the news release said. “If you spot one, safely take a picture and share with us on Facebook or Twitter. Use the hashtag #HolidayBus or #FairfaxConnector.”

People who share a photo of the buses on social media will be entered into a drawing for a $50 SmarTrip card, which can be used for Connector buses as well as Metro, Fairfax CUE buses and other local transit systems. The winner will be announced the week of Jan. 1, 2024.

During Winterfest, the tree-decorated bus will serve as the Santa bus, while Mrs. Claus will be in the cookie bus. The gnome bus will host a Stuff-a-Bus donation drive.

“To support our community, Fairfax County Department of Transportation, Fairfax Connector & Transdev are collecting new, unwrapped toys and coats for children ages 5 to 10 years old,” FCDOT said in its news release. “…The toys and coats collected will be delivered to children at three Fairfax County public schools the week of December 11, 2023.”

In a separate charitable effort, today (Thursday) marks the last day of Fairfax County’s virtual Stuff the Bus campaign, which encourages community members to make monetary donations to local nonprofits that provide food assistance.

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A Fairfax Connector bus in Reston (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax Connector’s operator and workers remain far apart in their negotiations for a new labor contract, says the union representing drivers and other employees of Northern Virginia’s largest public bus system.

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 accused contractor Transdev of “clearly not [being] serious about bargaining in good faith” in a strongly worded statement issued last Wednesday (Nov. 22), just before Thanksgiving.

Representing 546 employees of Fairfax Connector, which serves about 26,000 daily passengers across 93 different routes, the union confirmed that it got Transdev’s latest contract offer a day earlier. Exact details of the proposal weren’t shared, but the union says workers would still be paid “well below other transit workers” in the D.C. area.

“Transdev’s latest wage offer was a slap in the face since its insulting lowball offer is contingent on the Union withdrawing all of its other economic proposals which include better sick leave, reduced healthcare costs, and retirement security,” ATU Local 689 said in its statement.

The union also claimed that Transdev has “continuously dragged their feet” when responding to requests for meeting dates since the collective bargaining process began in October.

Transdev, a French company that took over Fairfax Connector’s operations and maintenance in 2019, disputed the union’s characterization of the ongoing contract talks, stating that it’s “committed to continuing negotiations in good faith.”

“We value our partnership with the ATU and remain hopeful that we can come to a mutually-agreeable resolution quickly,” a Transdev spokesperson said by email. “We have mutually agreed with ATU to schedule our next bargaining session on 12/1.”

The Dec. 1 bargaining session will come after the existing, five-year contract expires on Nov. 30 at 11:59 p.m.

According to Local 689 spokesperson Ben Lynn, both sides will continue to operate under the current contract even after it expires. Determining worker pay, benefits, working conditions and other issues, the contract was secured in early 2020 after a four-day strike upended bus service throughout the county.

The union could call for a strike authorization vote at any time, but Lynn says nothing has been scheduled so far.

Transdev says it doesn’t anticipate any service disruptions as a result of the agreement expiring.

In its statement, ATU Local 689 said it has “reached tentative agreements on a variety of issues,” but on several of its top concerns, which include wage increases, improved sick leave, retirement security and standardized schedules, the union has been met with “abysmally low numbers” or outright rejection.

“Local 689 members worked on the front line throughout the pandemic to move thousands of people every day across the region,” the union said. “Transdev’s employees deserve to have their dedication and hardwork respected by the company. They have refused to offer a realistic economic proposal that would account for the intense economic pressures impacting its employees over the past three years while continuing to profit off the backs of their workers.”

Fairfax Connector’s labor negotiations come at a challenging time for public transit in the D.C. area, as Metro faces a potential $750 million budget gap and declining fare revenue even as ridership starts to bounce back after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Without significant additional funding, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said in October that it could be forced to drastically reduce rail and bus service starting July 2024, raise fares and lay off up to 4,700 workers.

ATU Local 689, which also represents Metro workers, warned WMATA against “balancing Metro’s budget on the backs of workers,” arguing that cutting service levels and worker compensation “simply will not solve the systemic funding issues plaguing” the transit agency.

According to Axios DC, Metro General Manager and CEO Randy Clarke will present an official budget proposal to the agency’s board of directors on Dec. 14.

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A Fairfax Connector bus near the Dunn Loring Metro station (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Negotiations over pay, benefits and working conditions are underway for hundreds of Fairfax Connector employees.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 presented an initial proposal on Oct. 13 for a contract that would cover 546 members who work for Fairfax County’s bus system to Transdev, the company that operates the transit service, the union said in a press release yesterday (Monday).

With its current contract set to expire Nov. 30, the union says workers are seeking wage increases “to keep competitive with other transit companies,” improved sick leave, retirement security for current and future employees and standard 40-hour, 5-days-per-week schedules at all bus garages.

However, bargaining sessions scheduled for yesterday and today (Tuesday) were canceled over the weekend by Transdev, according to ATU Local 689, which said it was told the contractor “would not be ready to counter” its proposal.

“It is extremely disappointing that while Local 689 worked tirelessly to craft a new contract proposal and prepared to bargain in good faith, Transdev has apparently failed to do the same,” Local 689 President Raymond Jackson said in a statement. “Our members providing a public service in Fairfax County are dedicated professionals who deserve a fair contract. Local 689 remains committed to advocating for our members and is ready to meet with Transdev to negotiate the new contract. We hope Transdev prioritizes the contract talks and its employees, not profit.”

FFXnow reached out to a Transdev spokesperson for comment but didn’t hear back by press time.

The largest local bus system in Northern Virginia, Fairfax Connector transports about 26,000 passengers per day across 93 different routes, according to its website.

Though ridership plummeted in the first two years of the pandemic, it bounced back starting last summer, and this June, it surpassed 2019 levels with more than 774,000 riders for the month, according to data reported by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

When the Connector’s workers last had contract negotiations in 2019, bus drivers and mechanics — who were represented at the time by a different ATU chapter, Local 1764 — went on strike for four days before the union and Transdev signed a back-to-work agreement. Workers eventually ratified a new, four-year contract on Feb. 29, 2020, averting the possibility of a second strike.

According to a Local 689 spokesperson, Connector workers were assigned to their current chapter after Local 1764 went into receivership in 2021.

ATU Local 689, whose 15,000-plus members include employees of Metrobus and Alexandria’s DASH, welcomed former Local 1764 members on March 25, 2021, stating that “the companies kept us apart” even though members did the same work, often in the same garages.

This year’s negotiations are taking place in a different environment for organized labor, which has gained public support in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After authorizing a strike, local office cleaners won pay bumps earlier this month that their union called “historic,” and Kaiser Permanente workers secured 21% raises following a three-day strike on Oct. 4-6. The United Auto Workers expanded a strike against vehicle manufacturers in Detroit yesterday, while negotiations between Hollywood studios and the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, are slated to resume today — 103 days after they went on strike.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation has a five-year, $443 million contract with Transdev, which took over the Connector’s operations and maintenance in July 2019 from the previous contractor, MV Transportation, according to previous reporting by the Washington Post.

“FCDOT Connector has no comments about this matter at this time,” FCDOT said when asked about the current talks.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay, who met with the union and Transdev to resolve the 2019 strike, says he has “not been privy” to the new contract discussions, since they’re still at a relatively early stage.

“My hope is that Transdev and the members of ATU Local 689 can come to a mutually agreeable contract that prevents a disruption of service,” McKay told FFXnow.

According to Local 689, there are three scheduled bargaining sessions remaining before the contract expires next month. The union claims that Transdev dragged its feet on providing available dates earlier this year.

“Local 689 is in the process of rescheduling the sessions with Transdev, and is more than willing to add additional sessions if needed,” the union said.

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Electric buses have at last joined Northern Virginia’s largest local bus fleet.

Fairfax Connector launched the eight battery-powered vehicles out of its West Ox Operations and Maintenance Center (4970 Alliance Drive) at 10:30 a.m. last Thursday (Sept. 28), a critical first step forward in the transit system’s plan to phase out diesel or gas-fueled buses.

Supported by four newly installed, 150-kilowatt chargers with two dispensers each, the buses have 39 passenger seats and can travel up to 250 miles on a single charge, according to the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

“Battery electric buses represent a monumental leap forward in eco-friendly transportation,” FCDOT said in a news release. “These vehicles offer a wide range of environmental benefits, including a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a significant reduction in air and noise pollution, and decreased dependence on fossil fuels.”

Another eight electric buses are in the works as part of the new pilot program. Four vehicles currently in production will be delivered to the Huntington Bus Garage, while the other four haven’t started production yet and aren’t slated to arrive until 2025.

The initial eight buses will be deployed on six different routes, covering a wide swath of the county:

  • 310: Franconia Road-Rolling Valley
  • 395: Gambrill-Pentagon Express
  • 901: Herndon Metro-Centreville
  • 632: Westfields Blvd-Walney Road
  • 463: Maple Avenue-Vienna
  • 615: Fair Oaks-Greenbriar

The next eight buses will also be tested “on various routes in the coming months,”  FCDOT communications head Freddy Serrano said.

The pilot is launching a little behind schedule. The county had previously hoped to have electric buses on the road by December 2022.

“Additional supply chain impacts caused by the pandemic delayed manufacturing,” Serrano said. “Also, a factory recall was issued and remedied before acceptance of the buses.”

Electric bus recalls sparked by a battery fire this spring also delayed deliveries to Metro, which is expecting 12 vehicles for the first phase of its transition plan and recently landed funds to help convert its Cinder Bed Road Bus Division garage in Franconia into a fully electric facility.

Fairfax County started exploring using electric vehicles for public transportation by piloting an autonomous Relay shuttle in Merrifield until this past June. The Department of Public Works and Environmental Services recently unveiled its first electric trash truck, and Fairfax County Public Schools has added a few electric school buses to its fleet.

While these are Fairfax Connector’s first electric buses, the agency already had several electric support vehicles, including 14 sedans and chargers at its Fair Oaks offices (4050 Legato Road) and two electric vehicles with six chargers at the Herndon Bus Garage (268 Spring Street).

“The pilot program includes several phases and is the first of many steps toward a more sustainable transit system in Fairfax County,” FCDOT transit services division chief and Fairfax Connector head Dwayne Pelfrey said. “Information obtained during the pilot program and on-going evaluation of various technologies will guide strategic decisions in the coming years as we work to build tomorrow’s transit system today.”

Pledging to become carbon-neutral by 2040, Fairfax County adopted an operational energy strategy in 2021 with goals that included halting all diesel bus purchases after this fiscal year — which ends June 30, 2024 — and fully transitioning all buses and fleet vehicles to electricity or a non-carbon-emitting power source by 2035.

Fairfax Connector has more than 300 buses that carry approximately 26,000 riders on 93 routes daily.

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Fairfax Connector bus to Springfield (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax Connector is shaking up its service along the I-66 corridor in anticipation of two major parking facilities finishing construction later this year.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation has proposed adding or revising almost 30 routes in Tysons, Vienna, Springfield, Chantilly and Centreville, as it seeks to incorporate the upcoming Springfield and Monument Drive garages into its bus system.

According to FCDOT, the changes will improve travel throughout the D.C. region, with the Monument Commuter Parking Garage and Transit Center in particular supporting new connections between the eastern and western sides of the county.

“By creating a transfer point at the new Monument Park-and-Ride facility, riders will have the opportunity to transfer between local routes, access regional routes, and connect to the Vienna Metrorail Station, Franconia Metrorail Station, Tysons, or…D.C.,” FCDOT said in a news release.

Shaped by two previous rounds of public engagement, the proposed service plan will be presented today (Monday) at a 7 p.m. community meeting in the Franconia Government Center (6121 Franconia Road). Virtual meetings are also scheduled for 7 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday) and Thursday (May 25).

The public can also provide input through an online survey until June 5.

Monument Drive

The $43 million Monument facility will boast 820 parking spaces, eight bus bays, a pick-up and drop-off area, and bicycle racks and storage. Located at the Government Center Parkway intersection next to Fairfax Corner, it broke ground in November 2021 as part of the I-66 widening.

FCDOT has proposed adding the facility as a stop on Route 660, a cross-county connector from the Stone Road Park & Ride in Centreville to the Tysons Metro station that launched in February.

Other notable changes involving the Monument facility include:

  • Route 605: Reston Town Center Metro station to Fair Oaks Mall
  • Route 622: Fairfax Towne Center circulator with more local links and new weekend service
  • Route 625: New route to Random Hills Road and Pender Drive
  • Route 651: New seven-day service to the Westfields, Chantilly, and Fair Ridge areas
  • Route 663: Stringfellow Road Park and Ride to the Vienna Metro station
  • Route 670: New peak express service between Chantilly and the Franconia-Springfield
    Metro station
  • Route 671: New peak service from Chantilly to the Dunn Loring Metro station

Read More

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A Fairfax Connector bus in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

All kids under the age of 12 will soon be able to ride the Fairfax Connector for free.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday (Tuesday) to change the bus system’s policy to allow any child 12 or younger to ride for free when accompanied by a paying adult.

The vote closes a gap in the county’s transit policy that left children between ages 5 and 12 paying for bus fare, while younger kids and high school students can ride for free.

Hunter Mill Supervisor Walter Alcorn said the change is part of an ongoing effort to expand the number of riders who can ride Fairfax Connector fare-free — without going fully free like neighboring Alexandria.

“This is a nice step forward,” said Alcorn. “…As we move forward with identifying populations that really should get free fare, we should do that, and just as a reminder, we have some other things coming in terms of reduced fare. So, this is one of a number of initiatives we’re doing in terms of our bus fare strategy.”

Chairman Jeff McKay said one of the long-term benefits of getting more children riding Fairfax Connector is familiarizing a new generation with mass transit.

“This is great,” McKay said. “Not only is it for people who need it — in this case it’s free fare for children — but we’re also building a population and educating a population on how to use mass transit. It’s an investment in the future, and we’ve certainly seen that with the student bus pass program.

Calling the new policy “fantastic,” he thanked county staff for proposing the change and “the speed at which they got this to the Board for approval.”

The new policy will take effect on May 1.

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