Driving Alone: A Hard Habit to Break

Commuters prefer driving alone over carpools and mass transit because they feel more comfortable and in control during the trip, reports George Mason University PhD candidate Mitchell Baer. In his study, “The Emotional Response to Commuting,” for which he surveyed 900 households, Baer found that solo drivers feel more emotionally satisfied with their commute, even if it ends up taking longer or costing more.

States a GMU press release:

Commuters say driving alone offers up more freedom — choosing when to leave, what route to take, which radio station to listen to, or what temperature to set in the car. In many instances, notes Baer, commuters say that driving alone is the only option, the least expensive option or the quickest option.

“With cars affording more creature comforts and independence and mass transit options becoming more crowded and uncomfortable — especially in light of Metro’s recent experiment to remove seats from its subway cars—it will be difficult to convince commuters to switch away from driving alone to and from work,” says Baer.

Prying people out of their cars, won’t be easy. But Baer’s survey offered grounds for hope. Those who walked or biked to work were the most emotionally satisfied of all commuters.

Baer also suggested new approaches to coaxing people into mass transit. “Transportation planning agencies … should look at transportation strategies that provide mass transit commuters with additional control over their commuting environments and improved comfort during their commutes,” says Baer.

Why can’t an entrepreneur refit a bus to provide more legroom, docks for laptops and a satellite Internet link? Talk about control over your commute! Riders could download and answer their e-mail before they arrive at work, check the news on the Web, finish work projects, and then arrive at the office ready to rock and roll. I think that a segment of the marketplace would find that mode of travel more attractive than listening to talk radio or their iPod while driving solo.


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34 responses to “Driving Alone: A Hard Habit to Break”

  1. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    Oh man, it’s Dreamland. These articles remind me of those ‘financial advice’ columns I read on MSN or Yahoo where their test case is a lawyer making tons of money.

    Most of the people you see on the roads aren’t outlandish examples of prosperity. They don’t ride buses, working on the company’s projects, BECAUSE THEY DON’T GET PAID UNTIL THEY CLOCK IN.

    The fact of the matter is, people drive to work so they can have a few moments to themselves without worrying about the daily chores. They drive to work because next week could find them out of a job, or at a new one because shifting employment is the only way to get ahead in this modern global economy.

    No job security, no chance for advancement, the only recourse is to remain flexible. Mass transit and smart growth strategies aren’t.

  2. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    Jim Bacon –

    People will use public transit systems when their residence
    and their employer are linked
    by such means.

    This concept works well in Arlington County and Portland,
    Oregon.

    Norfolk’s recent new development
    downtown linked to their planned
    light rail system indicates that
    residents there will embrance such
    an opportunity.

    Virginia needs a state planning
    department. That department needs
    to facilitate new development to
    be in our cities and older suburbs.

    Then light rail and streetcar systems could be built that
    would get more people off of
    our roads and using public
    transit.

    High gas prices will be the driving
    force to bring about more change
    relative to these issues.

  3. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    its this simple as a tradeoff

    house vs commute

    and the second poster is right. because people change jobs so much it is insane to think people will move every time they change jobs.

    one other thing since most people still get married and have kids school district is also very important.

    Rodger

    Arlington County works because it is such a small area. Also have you looked at home prices in Arlington latley. Prices start at around 500k for a home which is out of reach for more than 75% of even the higher income NoVa population.

    NMM

  4. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    NMM-

    Arlington has created 1,000’s of new
    residential units along the
    Metro system.

    Many of those units
    are occupied by divorced persons,
    empty nesters and single persons.

    Those units have created housing
    opportunities for those wanting
    a transportation friendly life-
    style.

    Thus, freeing up housing
    stock in Northern Virginia for
    younger families wanting the more
    tradtional lifestyle.

    That in turn
    relieves some of the pressure for
    more housing to be built in the
    market.

    Arlington, Norfolk and Portland,
    Oregon are all having the same
    success with this concept.

    Young families in Portland like
    living in the city because of the
    great transportation system for
    it does not require them to own
    two cars.

    This concept will not solve all of
    our problems, but the future will
    be brighter for communities and
    states that encourage transit
    oriented development – that allows
    people to live, shop and go to work
    without having to use a car.

  5. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    “Why can’t an entrepreneur refit a bus to provide more legroom, docks for laptops and a satellite Internet link? “

    Well there you go. All of that would be very nice. But before that, how about actually providing a seat? Really, you have to ask what planet the people who design mass transit were on, when they studied customer service.

    “This concept works well in Arlington County and Portland,
    Oregon.”

    Really. Arlington county now has a greater proportion of residents than ever who commute out of the county to work, many of them commuting westward, by car. Portland has some of the worst traffic congestion in the nation, even while it has some of the best public transit. The reasons are complex. They involve geography, urban groth boundaries, and the mix of transportation expenditures, but the results are indisputable.

    There are almost no young families in Portland, at least families with children.

    Let’s assume that Roger’s argument is correct: that transit friendly residences for childless people relieves the pressure for more housin to be built in the market.

    Why would we think that is a good thing?

    The future will
    be brighter for communities and
    states that encourage transit
    oriented development – that allows
    people to live, shop and go to work
    without having to use a car, only if it turns out that this is really both more economically and more environmentally profitable.

    When a Metro bus costs $0.85 cents per passenger mile (operating costs, not capital costs, not including any costs for use of the roadways), and when that trip takes from twice to three times as long, then one has to wonder where the real benefit lies.

    Maybe the benefit lies in reducing pressure on the housing system, but I doubt it. Sooner or later we will have to stop catering to or subsidizing singles and over 55’ers and figure out how to deal with the rest of the world. Even if he is right, and there is some benefit in this, the question remains whether it is worth the cost.

    No doubt, for some places it is worth the cost. But that is a long way from declaring a general truth.

  6. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Roger – you speak with such authority. I don’t exactly know where you live but I live outside Portland Oregon and I can tell you that it’s a mess here. We have less than 5% of the population using light rail. The housing that has been created near the light rail has all been heavily subsidized with tax dollars. The light rail itself is heavily subsidized. Downtown, which they are ‘gentrifying’ is a great place (sort of) if you are an empty nester or a 20/30 something but it has to be without children. Families WITH children have let the core city in droves. Our taxes are high and getting higher.

    To anyone who is middle class this city, this area in general has become a nightmare. What is worse, more and more of the ‘Utopian-dreamers’ move here and don’t care what taxes are proposed, they vote for it. Then (like I said) those with kids, move out making way for more utopian whackos.

    Mass transit – just say no. Condos, just say no too.

  7. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “When a Metro bus costs $0.85 cents per passenger mile

    re: transit “frees” up family housing stock…

    There’s a big problem comparing Metro “costs” with driving costs when we don’t acknowledge just how expensive it IS already and will be in the future to attempt to provide more highway capacity in the same region where METRO costs are said to be so high.

    We keep comparing METRO costs to rural driving costs… and the proper comparision is between METRO urban and solo auto driving URBAN.

    How do you MOVE PEOPLE in a urban area where major new roads are so expensive that they remain as lines on a map for decades?

    The argument goes on that .. essentially SOLO-driven SUVs are the ONLY option for people who want to drive to work everyday at rush hour – that it is “emotionally more satisfying”.

    hmmm… how to balance this concept against the concept of “daily commuting HELL”…

    are the same folks who have a need to be emotionally satisfied the one’s who bemoan commuting hell?

    It would seem to be that most folks HAVE made their CHOICE to drive SOLO but reserve the right to bitch about the consequences.

    In other words, it’s not so bad that they refuse to drive SOLO anymore – correct?

    I think .. with the advent of the PILOT Congestion pricing project that we are going to find out how many folks are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

    .. and in the meantime… my prediction is that Transit, as an option – may actually be hurt by congestion pricing …in the same way that HOV is perceived to be a compeitor to transit

    Transit – made viable by taxing everyone .. without opportunity for individual choice – presumes that it is the only and best mobility solution for society as a whole – something I have a hard time accepting… as the best and only solution – when on the road-side of the equation – we apparently accept one person per car at rush hour as “acceptable”.

  8. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “At 7:24 AM, Jim Duncan said…
    Look to Google for one way to do this effectively.”

    AWESOME post and link. THANKS!

    Of course the obvious question for NoVa is why not have the Feds emulate GOOGLE’s approach?

    Why not REQUIRE every major employer in the NoVa area to either provide GOOGLE-like service or to contract with a transit operator to “buy” the seats?

    One of GOOGLE’s core principles is “don’t be Evil”.

    hmmmm… so for the Wash Metro Fed employers… could we suggest to them that they .. at least .. adopt a similiar philosophy with regard to mobility and commuting?

    We could call it GOOGLE LITE or perhaps more directly instead of “don’t be evil”… “don’t be STUPID”.

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    To all my critics–

    There is no one simple solution to
    these problems.

    We visited Portland a number of times from 1999 to 2005.

    One of our sons received a degree in urban studies at Portland State
    University in their doctorate program in that field.

    We met many of his friends and
    associates during our visits. My
    comments about that community is
    based on our experiences during
    those trips out to Portland.

    Yes, Arlington residents do commute
    out to Fairfax County and into the
    District to jobs.

    But the facts are that county is
    recognized nationally and even
    internationally for what it has
    accomplished with the new develop-
    ment that has taken place there
    over the last 30 years tied to the
    Metro system.

    It is a remarkable success story in
    our state that Norfolk is about to
    replicate.

    What has taken place in Arlington
    and Portland is a good thing. We
    will see similar good things take
    place in Norfolk, after their light
    rail line becomes operational by
    2010.

  10. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Yes it is a good thing

    I think my main point is there is no silver bullet. You cant replicate Arlington in Fairfax. Fairfax is going to need different solutions.

    Mass transit works over short distances in high dense areas.

    Tysons Corner hopefully will look like Arlington.

    Other areas will evolve differently

  11. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Do anyone suppose there was a time in the past when Arlington and Alexandria looked like Fairfax and Tysons does now?

    Did Arlington …_evolve_ from a place that used to be more like Fairfax?

    If it did .. why would Fairfax and Tysons not.., in fact, eventually evolve to be more like Arlington?

    Bonus Question: why kinds of things would accelerate the process of Arlingtonization of Fairfax?

    what kinds of things would inhibit, doom such an evolution?

  12. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    larry gross-

    Arlington elected in the 1970’s to
    design a master plan linked with the development of Metro which was
    started about that time.

    The county insisted the line out
    to Falls Church take the route it
    did.

    Then they put in place the plans
    for the development you see today
    which brought about the transformation of the old Wilson
    Boulevard corridor.

    Similar plans were created in
    Crystal City and Pentagon City
    which matured to be what they are
    today.

    Portland, Oregon has created
    similar development patterns and
    Norfolk is about to do the same.

    It takes a good master plan linked
    with mass transit to give people
    an alternative to consider.

    This will not work in every city
    and county, but does work in places
    like Arlington and Norfolk – thus
    providing some additional capacity
    for new growth to be handled in
    such means.

  13. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Master Plan exactly

    Instead in Fairfax and Loudoun we have BoS that flip flop between growth and anti-growth with no continuity creating haphazard development with no sense of place

    It is a balance though I hear master plan and I think socialist/communisim. Property Rights must be addressed too

    Thats why they call me NoVaMiddleMan

    NMM

    Larry,

    I think the other issue is since Fairfax is so much bigger than Arlington and the higher cost of everything now vs 1970s there is understandable trepidation about sweeping change.

    The potential for Tysons to become a 3 billion plus disaster wrecking the region for the next 50 years is a very real concern

    -NMM

  14. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “…The potential for …disaster”

    Good thing you guys have the “A” Team on it…

    ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. Henry Ryto Avatar
    Henry Ryto

    I’m one of Virginia Beach’s representatives on Hampton Roads Transit’s (HRT) User Citizen Advisory Committee (UCAC). I’ll bring up the laptop docks idea at the next UCAC meeting.

    I ride HRT to/from work and the legroom isn’t bad. Free hands and time allows you to read, use your cell phone, etc.

  16. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Hello anyone remember me? I LIVE in the Portland metro area – quit talking about your ‘visits’. My guess is that your son and his friends didn’t have families. Quit talking about your visits, a visit to New York might be nice but living there is another matter entirely.

    That fact that you admit that your son got a degree in urban studies shows where and why your bias slants like it does. I live here, this system sucks. I see many visitors who think it’s just dandy … but they are VISITORS. Like the adage goes, “It’s a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.” It is very applicable for Portland Oregon.

    The fee for riding light rail here is approximately $3.00 per trip (with very little policing and lots and lots of free-loading). The actual cost of riding light rail is over $21.00 a trip and going up all the time. The extra money is taxed out of all of us. Again allow me to point out that less than 5% of our population uses the bloody thing but they keep pumping money into it – I guess so people like Roger can tell us how our town is so successful, thanks Rog.

    Outside of cost, the other thing that ticks me off about light rail is that all it moves is people. What do I mean? Roads move people, goods and services, light rail and trolley cars move ONLY people – AND light rail and trolley cars cost more to construct per mile than a road does.

    Roger, you really need to look behind the curtain to see past the glitter because, trust me, it’s NOT gold back there. It’s a cesspool and a very expensive one at that.

  17. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Arlington is a BS example. Without the construction of I-66 the whole thing would be a disaster. Check out the reverse commute on I-66 to Tysons and Reston from those new condos in Ballston. And now Wolf wants to widen I-66 to keep the whole game rolling. So much for transit lalaland. Goodbye EMR.

  18. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    Last year I attended a meeting in Portland. I had a seat that allowed me a view of a bus route and a light rail route for a week.

    For a week I watched thousands of empty transit seats being carried around the city. Even as a visitor, I could see it was a great system, abysmally used.

    As a result, I concur with anonymous.

    ——————————-

    “Bonus Question: why kinds of things would accelerate the process of Arlingtonization of Fairfax?”

    Aside from the question of why in God’s name you would want to do that, Roger provides the answer. All you need is another $400 billion to replicate the Arlington Metro experience throughout the major corridors of Fairfax.

    In the end, you might wind up with a higher percentage of Fairfax residents commuting out of the county to work. You might wind up with the highest taxes in the state. You might wind up with even more traffic congestion around the terminal Metro stations when you duplicate the Vienna Metro example in multiple locations.

    Just as Arlington has done.

    Arlington is OK for what it is, for some people. But that does not mean it should be the only plan to emulate.

    ————-

    The google article was interesting.

    Surprise! It WAS and entrepreneur who refitted a bus to provide more legroom, docks for laptops and a satellite Internet link. It was an entrepreneur who took control over the commute! And notice, that the system resembles a itney in that it offers nearly door to door service.

    AND, it is paid for by the employer who demands the employees, not the employees who “demand” more road service. By providin far flung service, the employer actually provides more spendable income to the employees – twice. Once by elimiating the commuting cost, and once by allowing lower housing costs.

    (I wonder if the benefit is taxable as income?)

  19. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    With a $3.00 charge for a $21.00 trip, Portland light rail makes VRE look like a (taxpayers) bargain since it costs $5.50 for a $27.00 trip.

    But then, at 40 MPH, VRE is more than twice as fast as Portland light rail.

  20. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    To all of my critics –

    The great cities of Europe work
    because of mass transit systems
    that move people and provide a
    means for Europeans to take trains,
    subways, etc. from home to work.

    Portland Anonymous: My son and his
    family live downtown near PSU and
    used the streetcar system and the MAX.

    Many of their friends had one
    car and enjoyed their life there.

    Good friend $3 billion of new
    development has resulted from that
    system you hate.

    More than 11,000 people have
    moved back into your
    city because of that system
    you seem to despise.

    PSU’s urban studies program hosts
    visitors from around the nation and
    the world to study land-use plans
    and transportation systems there.

    Anonymous(EMR): I-66 serves as a
    major route from Fairfax and Prince
    William counties into the city, thus the
    growth in the outer
    suburbs generate the majority of
    the traffic demands on that road.

    How about some hard facts
    about the number of
    Arlington residents who
    work in Fairfax County EMR?

    Ray Hyde: During our visits to
    Portland from 1999 to 2005, we rode
    the streetcar and MAX often. We
    never saw 1,000s of empty seats.

    $400 billion for Metro expansion
    into Fairfax County. What is the
    source of that number? How about
    nearly $2 billion we have spent on
    the Springfield interchange and the
    new Woodrow Wilson Bridge?

    Investing in public transit is a
    good investment. It reduces the
    number of vehicles on our roads
    (some say VRE’s passenger load
    would require two additional lanes
    to I-95, if those riders used their
    cars to come into the city from
    Fredericksburg).

    Bacon’s Rebellion: Home of the
    gloom and doom crowd, the negative
    promoters of no constructive views
    of our future – you guys would have
    opposed the building of our great
    interstate system, the creation of
    airline service and the automobile.

    Cheers!!

  21. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Rodger, like myself, lives in the Fredericksburg, Va area and perhaps his rail/transit advocacy extends also to the region we live in – or possibly not – so that’s why I am asking.

    At 100 million per mile, putting light-rail in place is perhaps in the same ballpark as building a new interstate-type road.

    Several years ago, the local VDOT folks had concocted a plan for a “beltway” around Fredericksburg.

    Of course the idea had the same problem that putting light-rail in the Fredericksubrg area (of which there are many advocates also) – in a word – MONEY.

    The problem with these kinds of mega/grandiose projects whether they be road or rail is the cost.

    Many advocates of either path – believe the money .. MUST come from somewhere else… that the region itself simply cannot afford the cost – but that the “benefits” of such projects justify .. essentially taxing others in Virginia to pay for them.

    I give Portland and NoVa CREDIT for at least understanding that it is their respective region’s responsibility to make the hard decisions with respect to what they can and cannot afford as a region rather than expecting folks who live outside of their regions to pay and there is the added benefit that those that live in the region – have a direct self-interest in the cost-benefit claims.

    I think.. in the end… you have to be honest with the people in a region – that .. ultimately the cost of the system will belong to them… not others who live outside their region.

    If they want it.. sorta like most folks want libraries.. then they will agree to pay for it…

    I’m just not in favor of transportation projects – predicated on the concept that folks who live outside the area.. must pay for it – because the people in the region cannot “afford” to pay for it.

  22. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: …”Surprise! It WAS and entrepreneur who refitted a bus to provide more legroom, docks for laptops and a satellite Internet link.”

    tsk tsk.

    No… ahem.. it was GOOGLE providing subsidized benefits for their employees…

    I say subsidized because I presume.. that employees who do not use it – get more salary.

    A better question perhaps.

    Why does GOGGLE see this as something worth spending their profits on – and the FEDS in NoVa don’t see it as something they should be doing?

    How about the FEDS in NoVA operating a regional service for their employees – especially their long-distance commuters – like GOGGLE is doing?

    Bonus Question:

    In terms of timely congestion reduction would such a regional approach of offering “free” buses with internet access for Fed and contractor employees… provide more timely and more effective congestion reduction than waiting for new mega road projects?

    Bonus Question:

    How about HOT lane revenues be used to provide “Free” Regional Bus Rapid Transit?

    remember the concept – people “pay” for less congestion… right?

    and if what they pay.. is used to provide a less congestion road – even if it done by providing “free” buses – the promise is fullfilled.. you paid for less congestion – and you got it.

  23. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    larry gross-

    Fredericksburg needs the following
    to provide relief from the issues
    the subject of this blog by having
    the following:

    -more employment centers in the
    region so our residents do not have
    to commute to the Greater Washington DC Region for jobs
    (it is estimated 75% of our workforce does so daily or more
    than 52,000 workers)

    -we need a loop road around the
    region to provide alternative
    transportation corridors, such as
    I-295 in Richmond and Rt. 199 in
    Williamsburg, to create better sites for larger, local employment centers and to
    allow non-local traffic a means
    to get around the community to
    reach Rt. 17 north of town for
    access to I-81, the Northeast and
    the Midwest, thus eliminating our
    major traffic jams on I-95 and
    along Rt. 17 north of the city

    -we need a third rail from Richmond
    to Washington DC to improve rail
    service on that corridor to add more trains, include VRE and a new
    service from the two cities, like
    the successful Cascade that runs
    runs from Vancouver to Seattle to
    Portland

    -and we need more urban development
    along that route clustered around
    station stations

    -we do not need light rail service
    in this region for we are not an
    urban center, but a widely scattered
    suburban-rural community.

  24. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    Correction:

    -and we need more urban development
    along that route clustered around
    train (not station) stations

  25. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: what the Fredericksburg Area “needs”

    if we have 75% commuters – a number that I don’t heavily dispute but would not be suprised to see it more along the lines of 40-50%.. still very substantial

    .. and most of our problem.. most of the time.. is, in fact, morning and evening rush hour traffic consisting of mostly SOLO SUVs trying to get on and off of I-95 then I’d support responsible and equitable methods to meet the ‘needs’ that we agree on.

    That means that fundamentally – Fredericksburg must “own” the problem – both the need and the solutions to the need.

    If the solution is a beltway or the more friendly VDOT term – a “loop Parkway”… then fine.. let’s get a PPTA TOLL road with congestion pricing and do the deed but let’s make sure first that the problem is not more easily and cost effectively fixed with C/D lanes and HOT/HOV extended down I-95 to Massaponax…

    and I’d fully support a 3rd, state-owned rail for VRE from Washington, to Richmond and even to HR/TW with tickets subsidized by the proceeds from congestion pricing.

    The problem in Fredericksburg is that rather than find a solution that is acceptable to most people – we keep “wishing” for a dictator-type authority to dictate to the public – options they oppose – with money they don’t have.

    Second, until Fredericksburg also “owns” the cost of whatever is proposed – and continues to believe that it is up to Richmond and the rest of the state to fund our own grandiose regional plans.. we will continue to .. do nothing.. but argue… and not move forward.

    It’s no conincidence in my view that there are many folks… who have grand transportations ideas – expensive ones.. that ought to be financed by the “state” – sneaky-speak for.. taxpayers throughout VA – on the questionable premise that .. some regions somehow “deserve” to have the rest of the state fund their needs…

    So .. Fredericksburg .. needs a dose of reality in my view.

    Figure out our needs… put a price tag on them… then figure out how much we, as a region are willing and able to pay… adjust the plan to be less grandiose and more realisitic .. and go forward.

    And you know what.. we have that ability right now through our own MPO – FAMPO – and it’s federally-mandated 2030 Constrained Plan – the main rule is which – name the projects – and name their funding source.

    For those who eschew this process, and cannot keep themselves from wandering back into wish-list-land.. I say… keep dreaming… but admit.. that others will be the ones who actually deal with the problem and produce real responses.

  26. Henry Ryto Avatar
    Henry Ryto

    “At 100 million per mile, putting light rail in place….” Uh…Norfolk’s LRT line is $31 million per mile.

  27. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    Larry Gross –

    The growth in the Fredericksburg
    region over the last 30 years has
    been driven by job growth in the
    Greater Washington DC Metropolitan
    Area and residents seeking housing
    they can afford.

    Your notion that this region of
    300,000 should have to fund needed
    transportation improvements to
    support the workforce needed to
    staff business and government jobs
    40 miles north of the area is just
    wrong.

    It is estimated the metropolitan
    area will generate 1.65 million
    new jobs, attracting 2.0 million
    new residents and creating a need
    for 833,000 more housing units over
    the next two decades.

    The federal and state governments
    have the major responsibility of
    providing the country and Virginia
    a viable transportation system.

  28. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “Your notion that this region of 300,000 should have to fund needed transportation improvements to support the workforce needed to
    staff business and government jobs
    40 miles north of the area is just
    wrong.”

    who better to pay for the required commuting infrastructure than those who chose to commute 100 miles per day in SOLO SUVs?

    The Federal and State government – are taxpayers – across this country – many earning way less than the average salary in the NoVa commuting area which is one of the highest in the nation.

    How can it be fair to take money from Farmers in Kansas and factory workers in Detroit – to pay for roads for folks who drive 40K SUVs?

    Why not – let the folks who need/want the facilities pay for them?

    The solution you propose is why we don’t have the money and never will because there is no way one can justify Fredericksburg’s situation as more unique and more deserving of more funding than any other commuting area.

    I feel that the logic you are espousing is the same exact logic – used by many other regions.. including TW/HR where they “prefer” for the “State” to take care of their transportation needs…

    The Fredericksburg area had a choice when it approved land-use decisions to provide “affordable housing” and chose to ignore the consequences of those actions on the regional transportation grid.

    and now.. apparently – the solution is to have taxpayers outside of Fredericksburg pay for our lack of adequate planning…

    no wonder we have such a mess.

    you know.. it sounds like I’m lecturing to a teenager who bought a car and did not have enough money left over for insurance and gas – but in this case – we’re talking about elected leaders.

  29. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    Larry Gross –

    Get real. Local residents staff
    the military, national parks
    program, EPA and the list goes on
    and on … I don’t buy into your
    arguement … a transportation
    system has to be a responsiblity
    of our society.

  30. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “a transportation
    system has to be a responsiblity
    of our society.”

    agreed but if you and I contribute our fair share of taxes locally via fuel purchases – how would you feel if it was decided that other parts of Virginia would be allocated what we contributed”?

    That’s the issue.

    Why does Fredericksburg – or any other region deserve to have the tax proceeds from other areas away from them for our own transportation needs.

    When do those areas that we divert their fuel tax proceeds from – get their money back to pay for the transportation needs that they have?

    Are you assuming that there are folks in Va .. who drive cars and pay for gasoline taxes – who don’t need the taxes?

    In terms of basic tax fairness and equity – even the Feds “try” to allocate fuel taxes back to the states close to their contributions… yes.. some states are net donors and net gainers but .. one of the issues fought over in Congress when they authorize Highway Funding legislation is … EQUITY.

    So the same would go for Virginia.

    If the Fredericksburg area has transportation funding needs .. what is a fair and equitable way to raise those funds?

    Should most of it be the responsibility of the folks that use the roads in the Fredericksburg Area?

    Other locations .. have military, national parks, EPA, teachers, post office workers, you name it and those areas also have transportation needs so how can you justify taking money away from those areas and divert it to Fredericksburg – which is no more or no less important than most any other region in Va or the US?

    What makes Fredericksburg so special that we take funds from other areas?

  31. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    Larry Gross –

    We just returned from a trip to Blacksburg-Radford-Pulaski — using
    the state road system.

    All of us travel on roads elsewhere
    and likewise our taxes support that
    system.

    Your notion we should pay for our
    local road systems with local tax
    revenues is just dead wrong.

    Based on that premise, the we would never built:

    -the interstate highway system,

    -the great bridges and tunnels in
    Hampton Roads

    -and such scenic Virginia roads as the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Colonial Parkway, the George Washington Parkway, the Mt. Vernon Memorial Highway and the Skyline
    Drive would not exist for our
    enjoyment and that of tens of thousands of tourists and visitors
    to our state from around the country and the world.

    Larry, you are living in another
    universe with your views – cheers!!

  32. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Larry and Rodger, I bet you two guys actually agree on the proper allocation of responsibility for roads. The state is responsible for building and maintaining roads of statewide significance — Interstates and state highways that connect towns and cities with one another. Localities (or regions) should be responsible for roads of primarily local significance.

    Admittedly, that distinction is not always so clear in practice. What has happened is that, with sprawl, people have been using Interstates and state highways as local roads, too. Perhaps there could be a shared responsibility/accountability for that type of road.

  33. rodger provo Avatar
    rodger provo

    Jim Bacon –

    I think you are partially right.

    We have a federal, state, regional
    and local vested interest in our
    transportation system.

    Each of those stakeholders has a
    responsibility to invest in this
    system.

    Virginia has lagged behind in making a contribution to our needs,
    thus the interstate highways are
    used in local and regional highways
    in many parts of the state.

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