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Study Shows Support for County Transit Network, But Leaves Out Cost

Majority of those surveyed in transportation study support infrastructure, officials said Tuesday

At least 66 percent of people surveyed in the Fairfax County Transit Network Study believe transit infrastructure is vital for the future of the Washington, D.C. metro area’s future.

But at what cost is still unclear, Fairfax officials said Tuesday, because the study didn't put financial parameters around the questions it asked of its hundreds of respondents.  

During a Tuesday meeting of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors' transportation committee, representatives from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) presented an update on the transit study, an effort to determine how investment in public transit can best meet the county’s goals for long-term economic growth.

The department has receieved 1,370 responses to a survey designed to help officials draft goals and objectives for the study.

But Sully District Supervisor Michael Frey said he was concerned there was no indication of how the county intended to pay for the transit options in the study.

“It doesn’t do future boards any good if they have surveys and studies and a plan that says the whole world supports rail,” he said. “It has to be put into at least some context because if you ask people without any parameters, ‘Do you support rail?’ … the answer’s always going to be yes.”

FCDOT’s Leonard Wolfenstein said there would be a “costing component” further along in the project.

“First we need to come up with this network in order to come up with costs and revenues, and that’ll feed right into our recommendations,” Wolfenstein said. “What this really is is a vision for the future transit network of the county. We’re looking at 2050 as our forecast year.”

Of the survey responders:

  • 86 percent said transit options were either “important” or “very important” for reducing travel time
  • 79 percent said transit was “important” or “very important” for increasing economic development.
  • Nearly 70 percent of survey responders also said that transit would play an important role in the development of mixed-use activity centers such as Tysons Corner, Reston and Baileys Crossroads. 

A system connecting those centers effectively would be ideal, transportation officials said Tuesday, allowing the county to “connect,” “grow,” and “thrive.”

According to transportation officials, mixed-use centers in 2010 took up about 10 percent of county acreage, 19 percent of county households and 82 percent of county jobs.

In 2050, they are expected to hold about 36 percent of county households and 89 percent of county jobs.

In the coming months, officials will look at the initial concepts for transit corridors and vet them for effectiveness and necessary land use changes, they said.

A meeting with the public on those findings will likely take place in November, Senior Transportation Planner Tom Burke said.

The process will wrap up in summer 2013, when the department will present its recommendations.

Ron September 19, 2012 at 11:12 AM
How many people in the County will actually use the transit and do they expect the rest of us who have no need for such a system to pay for getting absolutely no benefits from it? If this is yet another system that raises taxes, forget about it!
T-Bird September 19, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Ron, and perhaps those people who take public transportation should stop paying for the roads you drive on, hmm? Sorry Ron, but that's not how it works. You live in a socitey, a commonwealth of people. If you don't like it, don't let the door hit you in the a$$.
Harry Rado September 19, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Fairfax already has a good bus network. Trolley/streetcar/light rail is just the next step--a more efficient, more cost effective way to move people, and would replace busses and augment them on the highest volume routes. Our roads are near capacity, and gasoline will never get any cheaper. Transit lifts all property values--just look at Arlington and Bethesda, not to mention DC--and benefits non-riders by opening up the highways.
Bob Bruhns September 21, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Our government needs to control costs. In the Silver Line job, we accepted bloated cost estimates, and so we were almost double-billed. In former years, there used to be better cost control, and we need to get back to that kind of planning. Tim Kaine moved us in the wrong direction. He managed to wangle us into this Silver Line disaster that is unfolding before our eyes - a premature rail line full of overpriced line items that are hidden from public view (except for a small few that just happen to be real eye-openers), and an out of control MWAA Board doing a lot of traveling and partying, and handing public money to each other, but not looking very hard at the costs that they are pushing onto us. Oh, and then there is the fatally flawed financial plan that will cause tens of thousands of drivers to flee from the ridiculous Dulles Toll Road tolls, and flood our local roads instead. We were told years ago that those local roads would be gridlocked by 2010 (hey, it's 2012 now), and that was one talking point to get us to build this rail project in the first place - but now, thanks to the bad management of this rail project, we are spending billions of dollars to make gridlock worse! Gee, thanks, Tim.

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