Fairfax County officials are poised to shut down the county's taxpayer-funded Tysons Connector shuttle program, which costs roughly a million dollars annually but serves less than one rider per trip.
Local and state transportation officials started the free lunchtime bus program in November as part of a plan to improve transit in Tysons Corner during construction of the Dulles Metrorail extension. But the service has failed to attract riders.
The shuttle runs its Tysons loop roughly 106 times each weekday, or about once every 10 minutes between 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It picks up an average of just 91 passengers during that span.
"It's a waste of money and it's bad for the environment," said Supervisor Pat Herrity, R-Springfield, who proposed shutting down the shuttle program and redirecting the funds to more deserving transportation initiatives.
"In a time of scarce transportation resources, there are many, many more ways to better spend a million dollars than to run empty buses through Tysons Corner," Herrity said.
His colleagues agreed.
"There are people who are more likely to ride transit than the ones we're trying to convince in Tysons," said Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, D-Hunter Mill.
Hudgins said her Reston constituents "could fill those buses quickly." She said a Tysons shuttle will be necessary eventually, but that time is still a ways off.
The Board of Supervisors originally considered shutting the bus service down in February, at which time Herrity pointed out that 75 riders per day were using the lunchtime shuttles. But the board decided to give the Tysons Connector a few more months to develop.
But with a record daily high of just 165 riders -- or fewer than two riders per bus trip -- the program seems destined for the chopping block.
Chairwoman Sharon Bulova proposed the board take a final look at the shuttle program's popularity in September, when the supervisors also could decide how to redirect its funding.
"I'm sure we could find a better use for the money if the ridership has not developed," Bulova said.
Fairfax Transportation Director Kathy Ichter told the Board of Supervisors the Tysons Connector is paid for by the Dulles Metrorail Project. The project is funded using local and federal taxpayer dollars, as well as revenues collected from commercial tax districts, Metro fares, tolls on the Dulles Toll Road and other sources.
Ichter said rerouted funds would have to be used for transportation programs within the Dulles Corridor.