Friday, July 24, 2009

Is VRE viable partnering in Spotsylvania’s transportation Plan?

by Gary Bullis, Spotsylvania GOP Member

I attended the VRE Summit, hoping to learn the facts about VRE. Should Spotsy partner with the northern counties and join VRE? The panel members were all articulate and advocates for VRE. It was clear that the panel members representing the northern counties wanted Spotsy to join to spread the cost.

Many questions remain.
(1) What is the benefit to the 120,000 Spotsylvania citizens who do not ride the VRE? Potential to attract jobs to the area. The Fredericksburg rep was asked that question and he said that Fredericksburg was already built out and there was no measurable benefit for luring high paying jobs to the area. He noted that approximately 900 Spotsylvania residents ride daily, which one could argue takes 900 cars off the 95 corridors but still impacts local rush hour traffic.

(2) How is it paid for? According to the "Master Agreement," the cost of commuter rail service shall be borne by the PARTICIPATING JURISDICTIONS. A minimum of 50% recovery of operating cost will come from fare revenue. The difference will be funded from a gas tax of 2%, which is soon to be 2.1%. This means that non riders will be required to subsidize those who ride up to 50% of the cost. If this tax increase still proves to be insufficient the balance will be funded from the county general fund. Most employment in the area is with the federal government or contractors, who are already subsidizing their employees to ride VRE with federal tax dollars. In addition, the VRE COMMISSIONS seek funds from the taxpayers of the Commonwealth and federal government in the form of grants. That's a lot of subsidizing. The cost for parking lots, stations, and other capital cost items remain the responsibility of the PARTICIPATING JURISDICTION (i.e. Spotsylvania County taxpayers)

(3) What are the transportation options? According to a regional transportation needs study by the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (FAMPO), numerous options to VRE are available and are already in place.
a. Carpools registered - 130. This does not include unregistered carpools.
b. Vanpools Registered – 366. This does not include unregistered vanpools.
c. Private Commuter Bus Runs - 27.

The estimated total number of vehicles removed daily via a, b, & c already equals 5,462. This is at no cost for the taxpayers with the added benefit of thousands of dollars from fuel taxes paid.
Too often, mass transportation does not go where you need to go. If you don’t work within walking distance to the station, the public will choose another alternative. According to a regional study done by the FAMPO, "Transit is most effective in densely developed areas with concentrated development. In the George Washington Region, development is of a very low-density nature."

"Various research efforts have shown that productive, traditional; fixed-route transit requires at least 3 households per acre or at least 4 jobs per acre. In terms of how "transit supportive" areas are, those with 3 to 10 households per acre or 4 to 20 jobs per acre generally have a medium level of transit supportiveness, and those with higher levels generally have a higher level of transit supportiveness. In the George Washington Region, relatively few areas currently have these densities. As the Region's grow, some existing areas are projected to develop more densely, but most new development patterns are expected to be similar as at present and to sprawl into new areas."

According to The Heritage Foundation and The Political Economy Research Center, rail transit in Portland and St. Louis, which have been widely promoted as light-rail success stories, accounts for less than 2.5 and 1 percent respectively, of new travel. This light rail development has been heavily subsidized. Portland’s planners had predicted that development would increase along the transit corridor while growth slows outside the corridor. Does this sound familiar? The facts show that this did not happen. Rail transit is not a substitute for carpool, vanpool, or bus commuting because it is structurally incapable of taking enough people where they want to go. Rail transit is more costly, requiring subsidies from the more than 120,000 non-riders thru an additional 2.1% gas tax as well as other tax subsidies. I urge the Board of Supervisor to consider these facts and join together as our community leaders in opposition to joining VRE during these difficult economic times.

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At December 20, 2009 at 1:40 PM , Blogger critter said...

Although the comparison to Portland and St. Louis is fair, you've obviously never visited affluent Main Line Philadelphia where the regional rail thrives, nor LIRR or Metro North on the NYC Metropolitan System. Those lines, as well, thrive. As for drivers paying for rail riders...I'm sure there are taxpayers in Spotsylvania who have no children, and their tax dollars subsidize the education of people who have children, and Im sure there are also rail riders who pay taxes for these huge underutilized road projects in the county that seem to only serve the purposes of commercial land developers. A sound idea would be for the counties and the NVTC to investigate and proceed with right-of-way acquisition and development of non-leased infrastructure.

At January 13, 2011 at 11:28 AM , Blogger roketfuel said...

Last week I was at a local bar and a talking to a man who says oes safty checks on all local VRE equiptment.A complete drunk if you will.Then says he has no licences its been Revoked for drinking,hummm.Anyway he seems to shrugg off alot in conversation Humm,ohh time for another drink..when I see this type of "safty" people I DONT FEEL SO SAFE!Please spare some lives.NO WE DONT NEED ANOTHER STATION OR ACCEDENTS DUE TO PEOPLE LIKE THAT.


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