On Monday, September 26th, Tysons Partnership held its second in a two-part series, Employer Forum: Talking Transportation. During the virtual forum, participants heard from Regina Sullivan, Metro’s Vice President of Government Relations & Policy. She presented on the Silver Line Extension, the final steps underway to ensure it is ready to come online, and new marketing plans to entice ridership.
Regina began the presentation with a brief overview of the Silver Line Extension and the 90-acre railyard that is accompanying it. The railyard will be one of the largest in the country and is critical to the operation of the entire metro system. Metro is currently working with the Airport Authority, Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on the list of safety requirements they must meet before the Extension can officially open to the public. For example, Metro must complete emergency responder drills and run simulated service, which will take place from October 3-17.
Furthermore, last week, Metro’s board voted to provide General Manager Randy Clarke with the authority to set a revenue date. Once FTA and WMSC finish the safety certification at the end of October, an opening day will be set.
While these final steps are taking place, it is extremely important that marketing and communications around the Extension continue to occur. Regina went over the communications strategies and campaigns that are currently underway to ensure riders are being kept up to date on the project’s progress. Some strategies include: the Silver Line page on Metro’s website, the Silver Bulletin, their bi-weekly newsletter dedicated to the project, routine press releases, new station videos, social media, and a paid media campaign featuring press tours of the new stations.
Attendees also heard about the community outreach Metro is doing to ensure they are reaching their riders, like going to local libraries, laundromats, and community centers to name a few. Regina also touched on the outreach they are conducting across all 91 stations to raise awareness about the new stations that are going to be opening. Metro is also partnering with local farmers markets, festivals, and other organizations to host special events in the communities along the new Silver Line.
Through research, Metro found that quite a few people in Fairfax and Loudon Counties know that the Silver Line is coming, but aren’t sure where the new stations are located. As a result, they have created station specific maps to push out on social media and at all their events.
Metro continues to implement programs and initiatives to entice riders back to Metrorail including a two-dollar fare on weekends; a new program called Clean Sweeps, an initiative instituted by General Manager Randy Clarke to help keep Metro stations clean; promoting Metro’s SmartBenefits employer program; increasing travel frequency with the return of the 7000 series; and ensuring Metro continues to be safe. Since Labor Day, Metro has seen a 10 percent increase in ridership.
For more information on the Silver Line Extension and to stay up to date, click here.