Summary: The Fairfax Connector is a reasonable prototype of buses servicing the Dulles rail line. As such, the buses cannot be justified on the basis of economics or fuel consumption or congestion reduction. Taxpayers subsidize each bus user $3,305 per year. Buses would probably be justified if they were used only during rush hour, presuming that the drivers would not be paid in the off hours, and ran on the grid of streets rather than arteries. The number of bus riders may decrease if the riders did not expect to be able to come home at any time; however, the loss may not be great. The old Continental bus line, which ran from Reston to D.C. in the 1980’s, ran only during rush hour. The buses were unreliable but always crowded.
Bus drivers need to earn a living. Working only during one rush hour would probably not suffice. One suggestion for augmenting the driver’s income has the drivers given two four-hour shifts, one in the AM and one in the PM. The buses would be running 8 hours instead of 16.
The buses can be economically justified if the fare is increased from the present $1.50 to $7.20, although the gains from the higher fare might be offset by the loss of ridership. If you were given $3,305 per year for commuting expenses, would you use it for this increased bus fare?
To read the complete report, do a search for "bus" and select Report 084.