Two Big Transportation Proposals
This week's transportation news likely will be dominated by the road and transit plans unveiled this weekend:
-- Metro board members on Thursday will begin considering a fare increase plan for early next year developed by General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. (See story in Saturday's Post by Lena H. Sun.)
-- Virginia announces today that it has an agreement to start building express toll lanes along the western side of the Capital Beltway between Springfield and the Potomac River. (See story in today's Post by Karin Brulliard.)
Sun, who covers transit issues, and Eric Weiss, who covers road issues for The Post, can take questions about these plans during their Live Online discussion at 11 a.m. today.
On Saturday, Sun reported that the cost of a transit ride would increase an average of 45 cents early next year as Metro sought to close a shortfall of $173 million anticipated in the 2009 budget while easing crowding on trains and buses.
The fare increase the board will be asked to consider would take effect halfway through the current fiscal year, which would be an unusual step for Metro.
Catoe did an online chat Friday on Metro's Web site. He did not reveal what he would say to the board on Thursday, but did seek to justify the fare increase idea:
"First, since 1995 Metro has increased fares about 14% for Metrobus, and 23% for Metrorail. During that time the general inflation rate has been close to 37%, and the actual costs of fuel have gone up over 300% and the costs for things like health insurance for employees have gone up at least 80%. These costs weren't passed on to customers. Last year to avoid a fare increase, we went through a very difficult reduction in force, to make sure that we were as lean as we could be before asking for a fare increase."
Today, Brulliard reported on Virginia's deal with Transurban and Fluor Enterprises to build, operate and maintain the express toll lanes for 80 years, including the five years of construction starting next year. Carpoolers would be able to use the new lanes for free, which is while they're popularly called HOT lanes, for high occupancy or toll.
This timetable would seem to push the Beltway HOT lane plan out ahead of the one to bring HOT lanes to the I-95/395 corridor between Woodbridge and the 14th Street Bridge. The latter plan was the one dominating debate until now. It's less of a construction job because it takes over the existing two carpool lanes while adding one more lane. (The Beltway plan adds two lanes in each direction.)
Opposition to the I-95/395 plan has been strong among sluggers, who fear that it threatens the highly successful carpooling system that they created in that corridor. No similar system exists along the Beltway portion. But there stil should be plenty of questions about the impact of adding four lanes, with nine interchanges. The tolls will be imposed on the two left lanes in each direction, though they'll be free for vehicles with three or more people.
Carpoolers have been very curious to find out how such a system will be monitored to avoid cheating. How does an electronic monitoring system distinguish between a toll-payer equipped with an E-ZPass type transmitter, a car with three people and a cheater? Other questions arise in this case about the traffic impact on Tysons, which will likely be the scene of rail line construction and commercial and residential construction during the same time period.
Here's a link to some updated information about the plan on the Virginia Department of Transportation Web site.
Posted by: Bob | September 10, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Craig | September 10, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: jj | September 10, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: ah | September 10, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: DC Mike | September 10, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: jj | September 10, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: JS | September 10, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Steven | September 10, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Steven | September 10, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Rich | September 10, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Robert Thomson | September 10, 2007 6:40 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Tim | September 11, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.