News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Buspocalypse Now: Grassroots Effort to 'Save Our Buses,' Or At Least Have Transit Serving Our Transit-Oriented Developments

oA6wNAMY_z5_0S1VOGn1iq0jcL5ODV-UpBMy3_XOPMxJw2OmBo9i1zCGVokvyL13lpntWUCt6nnmkw1nEgdQ03sBZnw6QGCIM9C_uV3lv6WrjwKsTQvQsA5BwceryUgpoGE9YuS3PEuG6sVjjghw0Q.jpegApparently some Reston residents aren't taking the proposed elimination of most Fairfax Connector bus routes serving Reston sitting down. (Not that they could, given that the buses are usually standing-room only during rush hour, but you get the idea.) Instead, they've started a fancy "web site" and a "Facebooks group" to organize and fight the changes.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is proposing to eliminate over half of the routes servicing Reston and Herndon. This includes Routes 552 and 554, servicing North Reston, 553 and 557, servicing South Reston, 929, servicing Centreville Road, and Reston/Herndon reverse commute buses 951 and 952. A grassroots campaign has been started to fight these changes and save our buses. A petition (http://www.gopetition.com/online/34495.html), Web page (http://home.comcast.net/~saveourbuses/site), Facebook Group (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=232970044978), and e-mail address (saveourbuses@comcast.net) have been created to provide collaboration and communication tools, announcements of upcoming events, and links to important information. A number of people will be attending the Fairfax County Budget Hearing on April 7 at the Fairfax County Government Center in hopes of persuading the board to vote against these cuts.

As we continue to debate other important issues for the future of Reston, such as the Wiehle Metro development, the implications of this decision are clear – the Fairfax County board shows no commitment to anything other than a park-and-ride future, where cars are the only viable form of transportation for the majority of residents. These unsustainable policies will continue urban sprawl, increase traffic (e.g. 66, 95), and negatively impact our quality of life. Major corporations looking to relocate, such as Northrop Grumman, will be taking this off-putting environment into account, and may soon be looking elsewhere.

Even those not affected directly by these bus cuts will feel the impact of these eliminations. Traffic will be worse, with hundreds more cars on the Toll Road. Park and ride facilities at Wiehle, Monroe, and South Reston, which already fill up well before 8 am, will become more crowded, and buses to and from more packed. Housing values, without a viable bus system, may also decrease as perspective [sic] buyers see only one way to make their morning commute into the city.
So far the online petition has more than 50 signatures, or about half the capacity of an overcrowded 557 bus. They're right about the contradiction in promoting transit-oriented development like the awesome Wiehle Metro development and then cutting the transit that's supposed to serve it, though. It's shortsighted and hurts the people who have the most to lose through any kind of redevelopment.

16 comments:

  1. Don't forget --- hudgins wants to restore the hated car tax and a special $33 booster just for the residents of her not so fair non town...

    Call or email her and tell her NO -- NO MORE TAXES!!

    hntrmill@fairfaxcounty.gov

    Contact Supervisor Cathy Hudgins

    12000 Bowman Towne Dr.
    Reston, VA 20190
    703-478-0283,TTY 711
    hntrmill@fairfaxcounty.gov

    Those taxes and stickers are useless, make-work nonsense that we did away with once. Good riddance then -- no one wants to see them back!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Way to go Hudgins! All the cuts are in your district. Who do you represent?

    ReplyDelete
  3. For what it's worth, Hudgins has been strongly opposed to this cut. Now someone needs to get that message to the rest of the board.

    ReplyDelete
  4. If you go to the Transit Development Plan for Fairfax County and look at the ridership levels for all of the different buses (http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/pdf/tdp/appendix_a.pdf), it's pretty obvious these cuts are not based on which routes are popular and which are not. The only rationale that I can find for these cuts is that Fairfax County doesn't want to fund anything that services something other than a parking lot, regardless of how many people use it. RIBS won't be far behind.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It is a damn shame.

    The 10-20 or so people that hop on the same 552 in the morning will now be driving.

    Not much of a problem if it was just one bus. But this is EACH TIME the 552 goes to the Wheile parking lot and then onto West Falls Church.

    From 5:50-8:30 AM, the 552 must pick up at least 100 passengers NOT at the park and ride.

    That is 100 more cars on the road and in the already maxed out parking lot.

    These neighborhood cuts are a stupid mistake.

    Maybe the car tax might be able to fund more public transportation 9:03.

    I don't understand the irrational hatred for paying to get good services from your government.

    You get what you pay for. I think paying for quality of life through some reasonable taxes is a good thing.

    More buses = less cars on the road, better air less traffic
    less cars on the road, better air less traffic = heightened quality of life

    therefore more buses = better quality of life.

    ReplyDelete
  6. HKCD, there's definitely a tax-phobia in a section of the community/country. I don't get it either, except that most taxes aren't targeted as you suggest. If taxes were targeted, at least you'd know where your money was going, whereas in a lot of cases it seems like it goes into a huge pool and a lot of it gets wasted on things that don't benefit the taxpayers...

    ReplyDelete
  7. If paying for the bus is the issue, they could raise the fares to maintain the buses, but I suspect that many people wouldn't pay that much. But keeping me off the road in my car benefits the whole community so maybe the tax should be raised instead of just the fares.

    I was trying to figure out why the 551 wasn't dropped. While I am thankful that it wasn't for selfish reasons, the only good reason that I can come up with is that it goes past two of the affordable housing complexes (Shadowhood and Stonedgate) and continues along the poorer part of South Reston.

    Does the the 552 or the 554 do the same thing? I know that the 553 and the 557 do not. If neither the 552 or 554 service the poorer parts of Reston, we might be able to mount a reverse discrimination argument: that services are being cut to the middle class neighborhoods simply because we're middle class.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Has anyone found a contact number for the airports authority? It seems that the cuts are required b/c of the Dulles grant, as clearly explained on the Connector website budget page. Instead of targeting just the county board, we should also make calls to the airport board.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'll be one of the many driving to work and taking up more space on the toll road if these buses go away. No option to drive even to the Park and Ride lot, since those are already full. Hooray for traffic. I'm just thankful I've got other options - some who ride these buses don't. Here's a story about a grandmother who won't be seeing her kids soon.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)March 12, 2010 at 6:45 AM

    I concur wholeheartedly with HCKD and dvdmon here. I may earn much less than half of Reston's median household income, but I, too, still wouldn't mind paying higher taxes if it equated to a better quality-of-life. Can you really put a price tag on peace of mind? Do you really want social progression and improvements to be mitigated because some people would rather not forgo one cup of Starbuck's per week or download one less ringtone for their smartphones? I'm outraged over the proposed budget cuts to bus service, libraries, schools, parks, etc. in this county right now. It's ludicrous. Every other person in Reston seems to drive an Audi or BMW, so obviously most here would not "suffer" from ponying up a tad bit more in taxes to help keep our public school system amongst the most well-regarded in the nation, to keep more cars off the road by preserving bus routes, to keep library services intact, etc. Life is too short to have to be stressed out over crappy services caused because too many short-sighted people would have rather been selfish and hoard their money than to collectively each give just a tad more to make life better. You see this constantly with the anti-progressives here in Reston who as of late sound more like the NIMBY residents of Loudoun County than the change-embracing residents of Fairfax County. Complaining about paying higher tolls on the toll road and saying the Silver Line is a "boondoggle" when it takes you 45 minutes to drive 7 miles at rush hour? What, pray tell, is YOUR alternative to easing the worsening congestion in this area other than "widen roads" (because that has been shown not to work by the fact that L.A. has some of the nation's widest freeways and the worst gridlock). I know you all tire of my self-righteous ranting and raving about Arlington, but they know how to do certain things much better than we do in Reston. There's a reason why I hit worse traffic in Reston than Arlington, a jurisdiction with four times the population on the cusp of a city of 600,000+. Reisdents there continue to pay dearly, but guess what? Their quality-of-life has benefited as a result. Why are so many in Reston afraid to spend a little now to reap the rewards later?

    ReplyDelete
  11. BiCO, the Arlingtonians must not know everything. In spite of their better traffic control, walkable neighborhoods and rampant nightlife on every corner, you're still in Reston. Why? Because you can't afford it? I guess those amenities come with a price -- a price so high that even you are unwilling to pay it.

    While I wouldn't necessarily be against a tax increase in order to get us through these tough economic times, we also have to live with the implications of an increase in fees or taxes. We are friends with more than one family in Reston composed of a single mom with multiple kids whose home economies are precariously perched on the edge of economic ruin. A few extra shekels in taxes to me is nothing. To them, it might be the difference between paying the mortgage or buying groceries.

    Also, you need to look at what happens when we start to recover. Taxes are like prices -- they are free on the way up but sticky on the way down. So we hike the marginal rates now in order to maintain our current standard of living (or even improve it as you seem to want) but when the economy improves and the county's coffers are flush, do you think the politicians will willingly say that they have more money than they need and decide to cut the rates? They will. Reluctantly. And usually only when there's a serious threat to their re-election.

    So, it seems that raising taxes may hurt some but if we don't we're going to hurt others. So whom do we inflict the pain on? Homeowners or renters or our local businesses? The poor or the rich or the folks in between? The nature lovers or the couch potatoes?

    I don't like the idea of scaling back on libraries, parks and schools but I'm not for forcing single moms and their kids out into the streets either. So, from my own point of view, we should spread the love around. Everybody pays a little more while everybody gets a little less. But while we're trying to figure out who gets less, we should keep in mind that sometimes a little less in one area can have a larger effect than in other areas. Cutting back on parks and libraries is going to hurt much less than cutting back on fire and police services unless, of course, you believe that our fire and police departments are already too big. Cutting immersion programs in schools is better than increasing the size of classrooms by a couple of students.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm not necessarily against a big government, which is really not the right term to use. I am for a right-sized government. I don't mind giving my money to the government to provide services to everybody (especially the most vulnerable in our society). Unfortunately, just like any entity that has too much money and not enough oversight, the government is prone to waste.

    If you're a government employee, you know that as well as I do: government spending is sometimes wasteful. They sometimes fund the trivial while ignoring the important and rush like mad to spend all of the excess money during August and September before the end of the fiscal year. And they do this so that they won't have to give any back and will get even more next year.

    ReplyDelete
  12. BTW, BiCO, don't you see the inconsistency to your Big City agenda? Why would you want to move high-density to a relatively low-density area? Isn't the purpose of all of this high-density housing so that we can preserver our low-density areas? Don't you think that all of this high-density stuff would be better served by either in-filling the existing high-density areas or, at least, putting it adjacent to an existing high-density area? You complain about urban sprawl, but by putting even more high-density out here, you are moving people AWAY from the core of the city. If you want to prevent sprawl, you need to restrict growth in less urban areas. That is, unless, of course, you've already written off Fairfax County and are trying to save Loudoun.

    Reston is already too big, in my opinion. And you, BiCO, who has lived here just a few months, want to make it bigger. I've got news for you, for some people, small is good. We can always make Reston bigger but it's much more difficult to make Reston smaller. Yep, once that djinni is out of the bottle, it will be almost impossible to put it back.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I wrote a letter to the editor about this the other week, and also wrote to our local and state representatives. I encourage everyone to do the same.

    There does not need to be a new tax. All that needs to happen is MWAA cough up the money that VDOT used to use from Toll Road revenues to pay for the Connector.

    ReplyDelete
  14. For Convict in the Gulag - the 551 does not ever get cut because it is a 2-way commuter bus. It carries workers coming off of the metro to office buildings along the Toll Road. Has a pretty healthy 2 way ridership

    ReplyDelete
  15. The reverse commuting portion of the 551 ridership is actually fairly limited. The real reason the route was kept was because it hits the two major park-and-ride lots.

    But, since the route accidentally services some residential property along the way, no doubt this is next on the chopping block.

    ReplyDelete
  16. That's an interesting reverse commute theory about the 551. I pick it up at WFC. When it pulls up, it's rare to see anybody getting off of the bus, although it's even rarer for the 552 and 554. Now, the 951 and the 952(?) do a fairly brisk reverse communte business especially along Sunrise Valley west of Wiehle, but they're still getting whacked.

    ReplyDelete

(If you don't see comments for some reason, click here).