Dulles to join Reagan as the most public transit-accessible Virginia airports

Metro prepares for safety certification in October

By: - October 12, 2022 12:02 am

Metro railcar pulls up to the Dulles International Airport Metro Station. (Tim Walck/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project)

Washington Dulles International Airport is preparing to become one of Virginia’s most public transit-accessible commercial airports with the eventual opening of a Metrorail station for travelers. 

The Silver Line extension of the Metro system, which includes the station at Dulles, has been in the works for more than 15 years. Construction issues pushed back the estimated completion date for more than three.

“Metro has not set an opening date for the Silver Line extension,” said Sherri Ly, a spokeswoman with Metro, in an email. “We continue to work closely with [Washington Metrorail Safety Commission] and expect to be prepared for safety certification this month.”

The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, an oversight committee commissioned by Congress, must inspect the rail line before the station can open.

Last year, the commission took hundreds of railcars out of service after a derailment investigation. The commission approved Metro’s plan for returning “more reliable” trains to service shortly last month. Ly said the agency is working to add more than 7,000 new railcars as passenger demand is expected to grow.

Dulles, Reagan to stand above the rest in Virginia

Dulles International Airport is one of nine public airports in the commonwealth that provide commercial service, according to the Virginia Department of Aviation. Most airports offer designated spaces for shared rides, including Uber and Lyft, rental car services and taxis.

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, which the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority operates, has the most ground transportation offerings of the nine airports, including a Metrorail station. 

While Reagan’s Metro station has an elevated connection to the airport, Dulles’s link will be on the ground level.

A view of the Metrorail Station at Dulles International Airport. (Bong Lee/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project)

Del. Suhas Subramanyam, D-Loudoun, who represents the area where Dulles is located, said  he hopes “we can have great ridership off the bat and have a sustainable model for Metro long term that won’t take up too many taxpayer resources.”

“I know there have been a lot of delays. It’s been frustrating, but in the end, I think it’s going to be great for the community,” Subramanyam said. 

The first phase of Metro’s Silver Line extension opened in 2014, expanding rail service from East Falls Church to Wiehle Avenue in Reston. The second phase includes Metrorail stations at Ashburn, Herndon, Reston and Dulles International Airport, making up 11.4 miles of new track.

Metro has also replaced more than 5,000 Metrorail maps with updated versions to include six new Silver Line stations and the Potomac Yard Station in Northern Virginia.

How will riders access the main terminal?

Metro riders will be able to access Dulles’ main terminal via an existing underground passenger walkway that runs from a parking garage to the terminal.

In November 2004, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority completed the $81 million walkway. Subramanyam, who often travels through Dulles, said he hopes the authority will consider operating quicker transportation from the rail station to the main terminal. 

The passenger walkway is 1,000 feet long, equivalent to nearly two Washington Monuments laid on their side.

The walkway has moving sidewalks in each direction and elevators that can take passengers up to the terminal.

Ways to access Virginia airports

Charlottesville-Albemarle County Airport (CHO): rental car, taxi, rideshare, shuttle

Lynchburg Regional Airport (LYH): rental car, rideshare, bus (Greater Lynchburg Transit Company) 

Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport (PHF): rental car, taxi, rideshare  

Norfolk International Airport (ORF): rental car, taxi, rideshare, 

Richmond International Airport (RIC): rental car, taxi, rideshare, bus (Greater Richmond Transit Company), sedan services

Roanoke Regional Airport (ROA): rental car, taxi, rideshare, bus (Smart Way Bus) 

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA): rental car, taxi, rideshare, Metro, bicycle 

Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD): rental car, taxi, rideshare, 

Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD): rental car, taxi, rideshare, bus, Metro (in progress) 


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Nathaniel Cline
Nathaniel Cline

Nathaniel is an award-winning journalist who's been covering news across the country since 2007, including politics at The Loudoun Times-Mirror and The Northern Neck News in Virginia as well as sports for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. He has also hosted podcasts, worked as a television analyst for Spectrum Sports, and appeared as a panelist for conferences and educational programs. A graduate of Bowie State University, Nathaniel grew up in Hawaii and the United Kingdom as a military brat. Five things he must have before leaving home: his cellphone, Black Panther water bottle, hand sanitizer, wedding ring and Philadelphia Eagles keychain.