A recent Washington Post article (July 29th) highlighted the fact that initial ridership projections for the three year old Silver Line are almost twice what today’s ridership numbers are showing. There are obvious reasons why the numbers are low, the least of which is that overall METRO ridership is down 12%, but also all of the service disruptions and the SafeTrack initiative probably have impacted ridership pretty dramatically.
However, supporters and planners in the region still feel that the Silver Line will be a boon to the corridor, attracting new businesses and promoting the transit oriented development that is seen in places like the Rosslyn – Ballston corridor. The Dulles Corridor, for all intents and purpose, is simply a growing “child.”
And as pointed out in the Post article, development is occurring – rapidly. The article notes that since 2014 (when the Silver Line opened), 11 new buildings have been or are under construction and more than 2 million more square feet of development are in the immediate pipeline. As the national and international economies continue to improve, these numbers will possibly expand even more.
Eventually a tipping point will be achieved, where the balance between residential and commercial space is achieved, making the Silver Line the preferred mode of transportation. The network of bus, bike and pedestrian facilities will connect the nearby communities and employment centers seamlessly into the METRO line. The opening of Phase II, with connections to Dulles International Airport and communities in Loudoun, will also spur more usage. Supporters in Fairfax and Loudoun still see this corridor as one of the most attractive places for business and residential growth in the entire country, and feel the Silver Line will provide the catalyst for that future.