Metro Responds to Shuttle Bus Suggestion

Metro responded to my suggestion for Orange Line shuttle buses I posted over at Greater Greater Washington. During Memorial Day weekend and the following two weekends, Metro is suspending Orange Line service between East Falls Church and West Falls Church and replacing them with shuttles. My original post suggested a different set of shuttles than just one between those two stations.

I had forwarded it to Mr. Sarles as a commenter on GGW, John Bennett, suggested. Here is the reply:

Dear Mr. Offutt:
Thank you for your May 25, 2010 email message to Richard Sarles, General Manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro), with suggestions regarding Orange Line shuttle service during our upcoming closures between East Falls Church and West Falls Church Metrorail stations. Mr. Sarles always welcomes input from our riding public and asked that I respond to your suggestions.

When planning for service disruptions, we keep several priorities in mind: customer convenience, service reliability, funding availability and clear communications.

For the upcoming weekends, we looked at a variety of shuttle options including the one you have suggested. We decided on one free shuttle between East Falls Church and West Falls Church stations because:
  • One shuttle would cost less to operate than running multiple shuttles with multiple station destinations. It was the most cost-effective option and we are committed to using our resources wisely.

  • Travel time for multiple shuttles would be heavily impacted by traffic on I-66, which is subject to numerous delays (predictable and unpredictable) especially during the holiday weekend. Without delays on I-66, travel time would most likely be equal.

  • Communicating the operation of one shuttle is less confusing to the customer. The one-shuttle method most resembles a 'normal' commute on the Orange Line. If you have multiple shuttles, there are more opportunities for people to board incorrect buses, thus creating more frustration and inconvenience for our riders.
For these reasons, we have opted to operate one shuttle. However, we will evaluate the shuttle operation after this weekend and make any adjustments necessary to minimize customer inconvenience, maximize our funds, preserve service reliability and maintain clear communications for subsequent work. I will ensure your input is considered in the evaluation process.

I hope you find this information helpful. Again, thank you for your suggestions.


James J. Hughes
Managing Director
Office of Intermodal Planning

I was pleased that I received a thoughtful response. Kudos to them.

I suspect that their cost analysis did not include the cost savings from not running the trains. I find it hard to believe those savings would not be fairly large. Whatever shuttle system they operate will need to transport the same number of passengers (all of them), so the alternate system would only need to be marginally larger to make for better customer service, not outrageously larger.

(This post also cross posted on Greater Greater Washington)

Photo of EFC station by MV Jantzen

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