Virginia politics, policy and entertainment from the Greater Richmond-Washington Metro Area perspective.

Move Loudoun into the 21st Century, Not the 19th Century!

Extending Metro a couple of miles into Loudoun will solve all our problems, according to the cheerleaders at the Washington Post, Democrats and developers.  It will move us into the bright shining uplands of the future, out of the slough of redneck isolation.  Really?

In 1888, just down the road in Richmond, VA, the first electric transit system was initiated.  In 1890, the first electric subway was built in London.  So how exactly is Metro, a 19th century technology, moving us forward into the future?  More Americans rode transit in 1912 than today!

Here’s an idea – if we must be 21st century to be “cool”, why not do something a little more “au courant?”   Apparently, we have hundreds of millions to spend on “something” even if it won’t improve traffic.  Instead of throwing that money into the MWAA and WMATA rat holes, how about something that might actually reduce traffic while benefiting Loudoun citizens rather than developers?  Let me suggest, somewhat tongue in cheek, extending broadband coverage throughout the County to encourage telecommuting.

Today, 2.9 million American workers telecommute – saving 390 million gallons of gas a year and reducing traffic.  Telecommuting is also growing rapidly.  Telecommuting grew an astounding 61% between 2005 and 2009.  When you consider the number of jobs in the U.S. economy declined during those years, that pace of growth is doubly impressive.  In 2016, 4.9 million workers are expected to telecommute, with many more (316,000) operating businesses from home.

How does that compare to transit?  In a quarter of the Nation’s largest Metro areas, more people already telecommute than use all modes of transit.  Between 2005 and 2009, total national transit ridership increased only about 1/12th as much as telecommuting (5%), not much considering the billions in tax dollars invested.  More people already telecommute than use subways.

Transit in the entire Washington area handles about 4.5% of all trips.  Despite tens of billions spent on Metro, transit’s share of total regional trips increased by only 0.6% since 1983.  Remember, this trivial increase was achieved during a period of rapid expansion of the subway – in 1983, the Orange line ended in Ballston.  As the region grew, and despite billions spent on transit, only 6 out of every 1000 new trips were made on Metro.   Rather astonishing, isn’t it?

On the other hand, extending broadband throughout the County would encourage even more rapid growth in working at home.  If you must spend money on expensive projects, broadband would be a better idea – since telecommuting is growing anyway, you could claim responsibility for further gains – and it can’t help but to reduce traffic more than extending Metro – which will increase traffic in Loudoun because of higher tolls!  

A 21st Century solution – broadband for all!

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12 Responses to “Move Loudoun into the 21st Century, Not the 19th Century!”

  1. Loudoun Lady

    When Obama refers to those that are “opposed to” alternative energy solutions (AKA the evil Republicans that don’t want to finance unproven technology but want to polute the planet and feed the evil Oil Companies) he uses the term “flat earthers”.

    Apparently if you are against Metro coming into Loudoun 2.8 miles you are a “flat earther”. I keep hearing about the 70 years of economic darkness (Fuller report) and how if we Opt Out at this time we will never get this chance back! Oh the humanity!

    If being a “flat earther” means fiscal conservative, print me a sash!

  2. Lovettsville Lady

    I am flat earther who doesn’t want to return to the 19th century, when subways made sense because people didn’t have cars, or computers! I want to jump right into the 21st century and give everyone broadband so that they can work from home! And how about some road improvements in Loudoun for the 99% who drive cars at some time during their day. It looks like that won’t happen if we sink $300 million into 2.8 miles of subway for the 1% who will ride it. We won’t have money for the roads for the 99%!

    • Ruth in Virginia

      Show me a broadband that’ll take me into DC for a show at the Kennedy Center or the Botanical Garden!

    • mac5cent@comcast.net

      Sorry Ruth, the cost of a Kennedy Center ticket is not in the Billions – is it?

  3. Rob from North Fork

    I also think that we should support bike trails and public spaces like parks and playgrounds. Those 2 hours you spend being not in a car can be time spent getting some fresh air and exercise.

  4. Gerrie Smith

    Agreed, LL. Fixed rail is, in fact, 19th century tech. It is time our elected officials got with the program: telecommuting is the 21st century alternative to either gridlock or stultifying taxation. Both are avoidable, with the correct leadership. Thanks for your thoughtful post.

  5. fairfaxadvocate

    In an interview Monday, Dr. Stephen Fuller, director of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis, said not building the Silver Line into Loudoun will cost the county over $25 billion in lost production through 2040.

    http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/article/20120507/NEWS/705079969/1064/expert-metro-extension-a-no-brainer-for-loudoun&template=fairfaxTimes

    Community and business leaders across the political spectrum agree we need effective solutions to the traffic challenges confronting Northern Virginia. Expanding telecommuting is an important part of our transportation strategy, but it is not the total answer. Putting our heads in the proverbial sand will not serve our future economy well.

    My commentary in this week’s Fairfax County Times can be seen here:

    http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/article/20120511/OPINION/705119884/1065/delegate-challenged-on-transportation-strategy&template=fairfaxTimes

    • Riley

      Fuller is a gun for hire who will say whatever people pay him to say. It wasn’t so long ago that Fuller was predicting the average home price in the DC area would top $1M and then the entire market collapsed. I’d take anything he says with a huge chunk of salt.

    • Lovettsville Lady

      Fuller also said in 2005, very near the top of the housing market, that everyone should jump in and buy a house immediately because house prices could only go UP! He couldn’t see that the housing market bubble was about to burst. Some ‘economist’ he is! He knows nothing about markets. I’d take a fortune teller’s predictions over Fuller’s.

    • fairfaxadvocate

      I am not defending Dr. Fuller. He can do that for himself and my focus was not his advice on home ownership 7 years ago.

      I assert we need a full array of solutions to the traffic challenges confronting our region. We need roads, rails and telecommuting. Don’t you think?

      Any thoughts on how Republican politicians like Tim Hugo votes against broadening the funding source for our transportation solutions? Ironically, he fails to help lower the costs burden on Northern Virginia taxpayers and commuters.

      Will Radle
      Will@VA8.com

  6. fairfaxadvocate

    Telecommuting is an important part of the solution, but is not the total answer. We cannot continue to compete for major employers without effectively executing a comprehensive transportation solution.

    In an interview on Monday, Dr. Stephen Fuller, director of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis, said, “The opportunity cost of not extending Metrorail into Loudoun County can be measured in billions of dollars not earned, a perpetually weaker economic base, lower salaries and higher tax burdens for Loudoun County residents.”

    Loudoun would lose over $25 billion in lost production by 2040 if we do not move forward with the Silver Line. See Stephen Fuller’s interview here: http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/article/20120507/NEWS/705079969/1064/expert-metro-extension-a-no-brainer-for-loudoun&template=fairfaxTimes

    Community and business leaders across the political spectrum agree we need effective solutions to the traffic challenges confronting Northern Virginia.

    My commentary published in the Fairfax County Times on Friday, May 11 can be seen here: http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/article/20120511/OPINION/705119884/1065/delegate-challenged-on-transportation-strategy&template=fairfaxTimes

    Thank you for letting me share my perspective.

    Will Radle
    Will@VA8.com

  7. thebulletproofmonk

    Fuller is a brush salesman…. And in 2007, he was in full use and rollout by Dale Polen Myers to defend why building over every acre of Loudoun was a win/win , when it was closer to the truth to say that the buildout was a tax booddoggle and we’re still paying for that one.

    That’s why it’s doubly entertaining to watch the idiots at PEC embrace this trainwreck this year.

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