Friday, March 17, 2006

The Valley's Bus Solution

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald highlights a new bus service for people who apparently don't mind getting up before the cows to start their commutes. A new commuter bus service from Woodstock in Shenandoah County, starting at 4:20 a.m., arrives in downtown D.C. at 7 a.m. The afternoon ride home leaves around 4 and gets back home at 6:30.

All this for a fixed monthly fee of $360, and federal employees can collect a $105 Metrochek monthly subsidy to cut their out-of-pocket costs. The local Valley Commuter Assistance Program is apparently going to guarantee a certain level of income for the route operators if the number of passengers drops below a certain number.

There was a similar commuter bus that ran from Winchester last year, but it was losing money and shut down. Here's an interesting detail - the driver of that failed route is also driving the new route, but this time, he's using his own bus. Now that's an entrepreneur.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Piling On the GOP

Geez, isn't there any editorial writer out there who will befriend the House GOP caucus?

The Danville paper says it hopes "the General Assembly comes to its collective senses when it returns to Richmond. Anyone who drives a car can see the problem - and should hope our political leaders will understand the best solution."

The Lynchburg News & Advance complains that for "at least the second time in the past three years, partisan ideology has trumped the voice of reason in the Virginia General Assembly."

And editorialists at the Virginian-Pilot, who advocate more transportation spending, urge voters to corner their legislators in the next two weeks and give them an earful: "If the party cannot find a way to bridge its ideological rifts, then voters need to perform a purge at the 2007 elections. “My way or the highway” works in monarchies, but not democracies... After weeks of listening to themselves talk, your representatives in Richmond need to hear from you."

Hopefully voters will speak up and legislators will talk openly and in detail about the transportation network they envision.. it's not just about the dollars.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Pox on the House

The House GOP caucus is getting a good hammering from some editorial writers, particularly at the Daily Press, which let loose this morning:
'The Republican House caucus blew it again. They went to Richmond eight weeks ago with two key chores to perform - to prepare the 2006-08 state budget and get a long-term transportation plan funding in place - and they didn't get it done.
Instead, House Republicans did what they do best: Played games. Postured. Settled scores.
So, how many times has the House bollixed the budget now? Three? Four? Five?'
Ouch. But there's more:
'Failure to pass a new budget and secure new transportation funding is failure at a fundamental level. The House Republicans bear that responsibility, and no amount of smoke will change it.'
In a way I suppose this links to yesterday's item about the apparent indifference around the state to transportation problems in the urban crescent. Daily Press editorialists argue that the GOP caucus demands party unity and damn the consequences. But the intensity of their frustration probably stems from the realization that they might not crack the House GOP. We are so far away from a decent public debate about transportation...

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Politics of Indifference

Part of the reason for the current standoff over transportation funding is that many parts of the state don't have the same traffic woes that Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads face - especially NoVa - and voters there don't much care, says Steve Ginsberg of the Washington Post.
'In the land beyond the Beltway, well beyond the reaches of Metro and far past the carpool lanes, there is a whole lot of Virginia without a whole lot of traffic. Nelson County in Central Virginia, for example, got its first traffic light just a couple of weeks ago.'
So, how do you convince the rest of the state that it has a stake in the mobility of its biggest urban regions? Sen. Charles Hawkins, R-Pittsylvania, tries to make a case:
'"I understand that although my area of the world is not directly affected by what we're doing here, long term, it will be," Hawkins said. "In order for Southside and southwest Virginia to be part of the economies of this century, they have to be tied in with an efficient transportation system."'
Even if you agree with Hawkins, that still sounds like a really weak selling point for rural voters.