Live More, Commute LessLive More, Commute Less

Dec
28

Dulles Matters: New Road Rules in the Dulles Corridor

By Rob Yingling

Dulles Airport passengers should take note of new rules affecting roadway travel between the airport and downtown Washington, D.C. Prior to December, drivers on airport business could use I-66 east of the Capital Beltway at all times without restriction. But new rules introduced by the Virginia Department of Transportation now require E-ZPass in vehicles on I-66 eastbound during the morning rush (5:30 – 9:30 a.m.) and westbound during the evening rush (3 – 7 p.m.).

All drivers on I-66, including Dulles Airport passengers, are subject to the posted tolls unless they have at least two people in the car and an E-ZPass Flex set to “HOV” mode. Most taxis and rideshares are equipped with a flex transponder, avoiding the tolls for their riders. Rental car customers should check with their rental agency to learn which toll payment options are offered with their vehicle. During non-rush periods, I-66 is open to traffic, free of charge or the need for E-ZPass. More information is available at  66expresslanes.org.

One rule that hasn’t changed involves the Dulles Airport Access Highway between the beltway and Dulles Airport. The highway remains toll-free and is for airport passengers and business only.

Dec
28

Live More Communte Less: Focus!

Try it…you’ll like it!  That’s the…er…focus…of DATA’s Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s Live More Commute Less: FOCUS! grant which is building a “Believe It!” community of Reston residents, employers, and employees who are interested in using Capital Bikeshare, their own two-wheels (unicycles and tricycles, too!) or even their feet to traverse the “last mile” to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station.

To encourage biking or walking to Metro,  DATA recently mailed a SmarTrip card and free Capital Bikeshare coupons to select members of the community – now numbering over 250 “believers” enlisted through various events and activities held since July – and invited each recipient to share a selfie taking advantage of their non-SOV (Single Occupant Vehicle) commuting choice.

Commuters submitting photos were entered in a drawing for a $50 gift card to the Bike Lane, a Live More Commute Less Believe It t-shirt, and various logoedbiking-related goodies.

The winner was Jay Paull, who obviously made good use of his SmarTrip card to take transit…encouraging everyone to discover how not driving alone can save time and money, thus giving you more life to live.  Jay’s smiling face is proof positive!  DATA also shared his story on social media.

For more information on upcoming events and contests or to join the “Believe It” community, contact Grant Manager Sarah McGowan at believe-it@datatrans.org.

Dec
28

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors celebrates a record 16 Best Workplaces for Commuters

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors celebrated a record 16 local employers for their recognition as Best Workplaces for Commuters, at the December Board Meeting. To achieve this standard of excellence employers must provide an array of commuting options to their staff and apply for recognition through the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research. The Fairfax County Commuter Services (FCCS) team appreciates the significant impact recipients can and do have in reducing congestion, and supports them by sponsoring their applications and through efforts to bolster eligibility.  FCCS and the employers partner to provide commuters with options like:

Guaranteed Ride Home: This service is provided through a partnership of local transportation entities (like FCCS) called Commuter Connections. Through this program commuters who regularly (twice a week) carpool, vanpool, bike, walk or take transit to work, can receive a FREE ride home when an emergency arises. The service can be used up to four times per year and can empower employees to try new commuting options.

Financial Incentives: The Commuter Benefits program is an IRS compliant platform that allows employers to provide staff with an opportunity to assign pre-tax income directly to a SmarTrip card, for use Metrobus, Metrorail and Fairfax Connector buses. FCCS supports individuals trying transit for the first time, through their employer’s Commuter
Benefits program, with a program called Plu$50, which provides them with a SmarTrip card free of cost and preloaded with
50 dollars!

Ridesharing: Individuals who commuter to, through or from Fairfax County can use their free, online Commuter Connections account to find partners to carpool or vanpool with, based on commute origins and/or destinations. Fairfax County also provides individual ridematching assistance through RideSources which can be reached here: (703) 877-5900.

Vanpool: FCCS works with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation to provide employees in Fairfax County access to temporary funding for vanpools. The VanStart program funds empty seats during the critical start-up period, while
additional riders are recruited. The VanSave program partially funds existing vanpools experiencing problems due to loss of riders.

Teleworking: Employers in Fairfax County can receive cost-free assistance from FCCS and TeleworkVA! to create, formalize or expand telework (or work-from-home) programs or to leverage any relevant and available tax credits.

Corporate Bikeshare memberships: The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is proud to have recently launched Bikeshare in Reston and Tysons! The County currently has 17 stations and will add more in South Reston in the spring of 2018. Bikeshare provides easy, flexible and affordable transportation from point A to point B (meaning that one can leave a bike in a different location from where it was picked up), making it ideal for lunches, meetings and errand and memberships can be used region-wide, in all Capital Bikeshare systems.  Employers in Fairfax County have the opportunity to purchase reduced-cost corporate memberships for their staff.

Over the last seven years, 79 employers, large and small, private and public, have been recognized County-wide.

This year’s recipients are: 

Ace Info Solutions Inc.

Avenir Place

Avizia Inc.

Creative Systems and Consulting LLC

eTrans Systems

Farm Credit Administration

Foxhole Technology

Gabriel Marketing Group

H2 CFO Consulting

K Force Government Solutions, Inc. (KGS)

Mosaic

New Oasis International Education

Open Technology Group

Remine

SOS International

Upskill

If you are interested in bringing these and other commuting options to your workplace, or believe that your office may qualify as a Best Workplace for Commuters, contact Fairfax County Commuter Services for free consultation and support: (703) 877-5600.

Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) ensures nondiscrimination in all programs and activities in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To request this information in an alternate format, contact FCDOT at 703-877-5600, TTY 711.

Dec
28

Charity Matters: INMED Family & Youth Opportunity Center: Creating Avenues for Success in Communities at Risk

When children live in poverty and in unstable environments, they live at risk. They become vulnerable to drugs, crime and an incomplete education, eventually perpetuating the cycle of poverty as adults. In the Northern Virginia area, many children are living in just such an environment. In parts of Sterling, an average of 6 in 10 children are economically disadvantaged, and the number of at-risk youths is also on the rise. For many of these children, there is no affordable option for after-school activities, leaving them without supervision and more vulnerable to crime and delinquency. Their parents often lack skills that can help them provide a more stable home for their children.

The INMED Family & Youth Opportunity Center provides educational services and resources that families need to raise healthy, responsible and resilient children, while building a sense of community and achieving economic self-sufficiency. INMED accomplishes these milestones via three program areas:

After School Academic Enrichment and Summer Day Camp: Offering daily homework completion, individualized tutoring and a roster of STEAM-related educational and extra-curricular activities for referred students.

Healthy Families Loudoun and Homelessness Prevention: Providing consistent home visiting and support services to help families address parenting challenges, and build economic sustainability to maintain permanent housing.

Workforce Skills Development: Offering entrepreneurial workshops and career-support resources in preparation for INMED’s biannual job fairs, which feature an array of industry recruiters actively pursuing employable candidates.

Please consider supporting INMED financially or volunteering at the Opportunity Center. Visit https://opportunity.us or email Cecilia Capece, Executive Director, at ccapece@inmed.org for more details.

Dec
28

These Boots Were Made For Walking

Cities Are Becoming More Walkable – DC Region Ranks 2nd in New Study

Planners across the country are transforming their car-dependent communities into more walking-friendly environments, a phenomenon that has been embraced here in the DC Region.  Building on the concept of transit-oriented development, creating communities that are more walkable is a trend that is catering to the demands of millennials, many of whom do not, nor want to, own a car.  The rise in popularity of Capital Bikeshare and biking in general in these communities is no surprise.  And lo and behold, this has also led to steady increases in housing and commercial land values, as well as communities that are “hot” in the real estate market.

The Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis (CREUA),
located at George Washington University, recently released a study that Washington is second only to New York City as the most walkable metropolitan area in the United States.  It makes sense frankly if you look at the recent developments like the Wharf, and the continued popularity of the Rosslyn – Ballston corridor.  Reston Town Center is also emerging as a go-to place to live because of its walkability combined with its “urban” atmosphere.  With the anticipated opening of Phase II of  Metro’s Silver line, the Dulles Corridor looks a whole lot like an adolescent Rosslyn – Ballston Corridor.

The CREUA analysis looked at variables that create Walkable Urban Places, or WalkUPs for short.  The attributes of walkable urban development include areas of higher densities and mixed land uses that encompass office, retail and multifamily housing.  The study also weighed the level of innovative types of functionally blended real estate (transit oriented development ranks very high), such as apartment units atop retail stores and the availability of multiple transportation options that include walking, biking and public transit (and surprisingly the ability to drive cars).

The top six metropolitan areas that ranked highest in WalkUPs include:

  • 1. New York
  • 2. Washington, D.C.
  • 3. Boston
  • 4. Chicago
  • 5. San Francisco
  • 6. Seattle

This is a list of very formidable competition – the urban heavyweight division if you will – so Washingtonians should be very proud of their ranking in WalkUPs.  The Dulles Area Transportation Association sees great promise in making the Dulles Corridor a very WalkUP oriented community and is poised to continue its efforts in promoting mobility options and assisting our stakeholders in achieving WalkUP success!