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What To Know Before The First Silver Line Train Departs Tomorrow

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Metro's first new line since 1991 will open to the public tomorrow at noon as Silver Line service finally begins. As this has been a long journey, you may need a refresher as to what exactly this means for you.

When does the first train leave?

The five new Silver Line stations — McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East — will open at noon to customers, with the first train leaving Wiehle-Reston East for Largo Town Center then.

I'm in. How do I get there?

The get from D.C. to Wiehle-Reston East before trains begin running at noon, a bus may be your best option. Fairfax Connector shuttle buses will begin leaving the West Falls Church station at 7:45 a.m. More from Dr. Gridlock:

Wiehle-West Falls Church shuttle buses will operate every 30 minutes from the start of service until about 10:45 a.m. and then operate every 10 to 20 minutes until 12:30 p.m.

Greater Greater Washington is also organizing a carpool.

Do I have to dance?

Please don't.

So I can take a train to Dulles now?

Not yet. Phase 1's completion means the McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East stations will now serve Silver Line riders. Phase 2, which includes a Dulles International Airport station, is expected to open in 2018.

In the meantime, there's new Silver Line Express bus service between Wiehle-Reston East and the airport. "Buses will operate every 20 minutes each day, with 15-minute frequency during the weekday morning and afternoon rush. Bus fare will be $5 each way, payable with cash or credit card," according to the Airports Authority.

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Via Metro.
But I can at least get to Tysons Galleria?

You sure can. TheExpress lays out exactly how to do it:

To get to Tysons Galleria — the glitzier of the two mall options — exit on the north side of the station and turn left onto Tysons Boulevard. Make your next left onto Galleria Drive, where to your right sits the future home of Founding Farmers (slated to open in the fall) and to the left is the Lerner Town Square (8025 Galleria Drive). The 10-acre lot hosts occasional events, including the upcoming Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival on Sept. 20. Pass the Tysons Galleria parking garage (which you’ll never have to wrestle with again) and make a right on to International Drive. There you’ll see the pearly gates of Tysons Galleria.

A trip from Gallery Place to Tysons Corner will take about 36 minutes using the Silver Line, and will costs $3.60 off peak and $4.90 during peak hours.

How did you predict that fare?

There's a tool on the Silver Line site where fares and travel times can be estimated between stations. Check it out here.

Remind me why Blue Line riders are dreading the Silver Line's arrival?

The Rosslyn tunnel bottleneck is not a new issue, but with Silver Line trains on the way, Blue Line riders will see a service reduction and longer waits during rush hour. Metro plans to convert some 6-car trains to 8-car trains to reduce crowding, but the group Save The Blue Line says it's not enough to alleviate that issue.

Right now D.C. Metro is running 7 six-car Blue trains per hour, so given current car loads there are 3,877 Blue Line passengers going through the station per hour during the PM rush. In order to get down to Metro’s stated standard of 100 people per car, they need at least 39 cars per hour. With the planned service cuts, the Blue line will have just 5 trains per hour, meaning that Metro needs to make at least 88 percent of Blue Line trains have 8 cars.

Under their current plan of having (up to) half of Blue trains having 8-cars, WMATA will only reduced the peak load to 111 passengers per car, meaning that unless there is a mass exodus of Blue Line riders they will be exceeding their stated operating standards.

What's in this whole Silver Line thing for me?

This may be hard for D.C. residents to wrap their heads around, but the Silver Line isn't just for you. Perry Stein at City Paper has a piece today on the slim offerings off the Wiehle-Reston East station, and some commenters are pretty upset about the tone.

Really? You expected to dine well and be entertained at the fast food places on Wiehle, or anywhere else that's an intersection with nothing but fast food places and a gas station? Wiehle was never advertised as a destination; it's a quick stop for gas and fast food.

As Inside NoVa reported, local leaders hope the Silver Line will help grow the area's population and provide a boost to businesses. The Coalition for Smarter Growth says the most important outcome of the SIlver Line is how it will change land use in Northern Virginia.

“That transformation will be most prominent in Tysons where a traffic-choked suburban office park with two large malls is planned to become a walkable, urban center with 100,000 residents and 200,000 jobs, but it will also be seen in Reston, Herndon and Loudoun," the Coalition's executive director Stewart Schwartz said in a statement.

Of course, it's not going to be all sunshine for Virginia residents. For some commuters who depend on the Fairfax Connector buses, trips will get longer and more expensive, as WAMU reported.