Metro says the Silver Line will start taking passengers on July 26, after more than a decade of political fights, planning, and delayed construction.
Richard Sarles, the transit agency’s general manager, told reporters on a conference call Monday that barring any last-minute setbacks, Washington will finally start seeing some return on the $2.9 billion it took to build the 11.4-mile route that connects Tysons and Reston to the area’s public transit grid.
“I’m looking forward to welcoming passengers,” Sarles said.
Metro riders will actually start seeing Silver Line trains running on July 20 for a week of “simulated service.” No one will be able to board at the five dedicated Silver Line stations— McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill, and Wiehle-Reston East—but the simulation trains will take passengers on the portion of the new route that overlaps with the Orange and Blue lines.
The Silver Line’s opening was delayed by more than six months after the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which was responsible for construction, missed several deadlines and flunked inspections. Metro says a punch list of construction issues is nearly checked off; the final hurdle is to get certificates of occupancy for the five new stations.
The delays also hurt Metro financially. After the Silver Line’s anticipated January start became a bust, Sarles said the transit agency lost between $2 million and $3 million in expected new revenue. A second phase that will extend the Silver Line to Dulles International Airport is scheduled to open in 2018.
Silver Line trains will run every six minutes during rush hours and every 12 to 20 minutes at other times. While this schedule means closer-in portions of Metro’s network will see trains more frequently, the Blue Line will start running every 12 minutes at all times, meaning people on its southern end in Springfield might need to adjust their commutes.