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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com — December 15, 2011 at 8:32 am 1,745 95 Comments

Linden Resources Profiled — Linden Resources, based on 23rd Street in Aurora Highlands, provides jobs to more than 250 people with disabilities, including disabled veterans. The company was recently profiled on WUSA9′s Hero Central segment. [WUSA9]

GOP Still Looking for County Board Candidate — A special election may be the GOP’s best chance to capture a seat on the Arlington County Board, but so far no Republican has stepped up to run in the upcoming special election to fill state Senator-elect Barbara Favola’s seat. [Sun Gazette]

Obama Leading in Va. Poll — Virginia’s state legislature may be dominated by Republicans, but a new poll shows that voters are leaning toward President Obama in theoretical match-ups against GOP presidential frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. [Washington Examiner]

Pike Streetcar… A Bargain? — Miles Grant argues that the estimated $250 million cost of the planned Columbia Pike streetcar is actually a bargain compared to some other major transportation project. [Greater Greater Washington]

  • MC

    Good and valid argument to look at Pike Street Car on per mile/per user basis. The only aspect that may be misleading is when Grant implies that users of roads are equivalent to users of street cars. A street car user will always be one person, but a highway user will average slightly more than one person, even though most car trips are solo trips.

    • Grognak

      You can’t go the “math” route and have such poor and incomplete logic behind it. His argument is unsuccessful.

      He claims added jobs, economic development etc from the streetcar and assumes if offsets zero growth without it. As if Columbia Pike would remain stagnant without it. He also claims all kinds of hidden costs of road projects, but does not provide any additional numbers.

      If you want to play with numerators and denominators, you have to stick to numbers, not boogeymen.

      • Josh S

        I agree it would be better to quantify the hidden costs of road projects. However, to dismiss that part of the argument because it lacks numbers is disingenous.

        • Grognak

          Where did I dismiss it?

          I dismissed his overall argument methodology, because you can not start talking about cost per mile, or per anything, and then throw in non-specific “costs”.

          It’s like saying what is 10 / 5, then saying what is (10 + SOME NUMBER) / 5. The second formula is totally useless.

        • Zoning Victim

          That may be, but it’s awfully hard to include that part of the argument since it was not quantified and there was no mention of the hidden costs of the streetcar.

          I still think we need to concentrate a lot less on moving people around and a lot more on moving what people want and need closer to them. Telecommuting, smaller regional offices instead of making people commute to a massive HQ building and close services are solutions to the problem, not more transportation. We will never have enough transportation under the current paradigm.

    • drax

      A “user” is a person, so they will always be one person.

      A user on the highway is still a person, not a car.

  • jack

    “The streetcar’s mere $261 million price tag, by contrast, covers a 5-mile segment to be used by an estimated 26,000 riders per day.”

    Hmmmm… we’ll see, I guess.

    I’m also curious to know what the fare will be. I thought I saw that it will be more than the bus. Is that true?

    • Zoning Victim

      Of course, the 26,000 riders per day won’t be until 2030, and will only happen if the county’s prediction of 2.2 million square feet of new commercial development, and 7,000 new jobs actually becomes reality. Then, in typical fashion for anybody who decides something is good with their heart and then tries to justify that feeling with their head, he intentionally compares figures for this year on two massive highway projects with numbers set 18 years into the future for a small rail system on a local road.

      • drax

        Careful what you wish for – the numbers for any highway project will likely show massive congestion in 2030 and 26,000 riders on transit will look pretty good.

        • Zoning Victim

          I’m sure you’re right, but when trying to compare one type of transit system to the other, we need to be using fair comparisons. I’m just going to continue along with my pipe dream that we’ll stop trying to make everybody commute to the same area when many (possibly most) don’t really need to with today’s technology. If we don’t figure out something different before 2030, no amount of asphalt or streetcars will be adequate in this area.

          • drax

            How do much larger cities manage though?

          • Burger

            I don’t know…seems to me, in the past most subway systems were built by private enterprise – see NYC as a prime example (and ironically one of the reasons why there are so few crosstown lines).

    • Josh S

      Are you equally as skeptical when evaluating a proposed roads project?

      I ask because it is far too common for people to hold transit projects to a much higher standard when it comes to the cost-benefit analysis than they do road projects. For example – the calculation involving fares collected. I rarely hear the same questions being asked about the marginal revenue created by new or expanded roads.

      • Zoning Victim

        Josh, you’ve “known” me long enough that you should know that I oppose most massive transportation projects. I just think we have it all wrong the hub and sprawl approach. Without all of these massive transportation projects, companies would be forced to break their offices down into smaller regions or explore things like working from home because their people just wouldn’t be able to get to the DC area. Changing the way people think about working may be a pipe dream, but so is the though of ever building enough of a transportation infrastructure to allow everyone to drive to the DC area for their job.

  • Jim Webster

    One can quibble with numbers, but Miles Grant makes a logical case. We can never ease our transportation problems with only more pavement.

    • SomeGuy

      So numbers have no role in the logic here? Math only counts as a “quibble?”

      And who suggested that additional paving was the only answer?

      • Grognak

        It’s not a logical case at all. It’s subjective because the facts he presents are totally inadequate to support a logical conclusion. You’re confusing someone’s rationalization of their beliefs with logic.

    • Greg

      That’s logic? Is anyone proposing building an interstate highway down Columbia Pike? The debate is better bus service vs. street car. Miles Grant is just throwing up a disingenuous strawman.

      • SomeGuy

        Strawman. My thoughts exactly. No one seriously suggested paving over Columbia Pike with an 8-lane highway, so an article titled “Columbia Pike streetcar…versus new highways” doesn’t seem to address the real debate.

        • E2DAV

          If you’re reading the article that way, then you are totally missing the point. He acknowledges that it is an imperfect argument, but the point of “massive transportation infrastructure project versus massive transportation infrastructure project” is pretty dead on.

          • Burger

            Except, they are not building a massive transportation infrastrucutre project on Columbia pike.

          • Greg

            If by dead on, you mean worthless, then I totally agree.

      • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

        Bingo!

    • Burger

      You mean someone from GGW came out with a study that said the car was the devil and mass transit projects were the way to go…I am shocked, I tell you, shocked.

  • Matt Wavro

    According to the Streetcar proponents own numbers the street car will cost upwards of $43 Million (the total cost keeps growing) for every minute shaved off of current bus commuters while other studies show that it will increase total commuting times for bus and car commuters over the same distance by 20 minutes. The project has to be a good project based on sound principles, which it certainly is not, before we can start comparing it to other projects that decreased congestion and commuting times across multiple modes in other transportation corridors.

  • OX4

    +1 for the posted photo.

    That’s “+1″ as in please increase your exposure 1 stop.

  • KalashniKEV

    0bama vs. Mitt or Newt… HMMMMMMM….

    Looks like it’s going to be another write in vote for novasteve!!!

  • John Fontain

    I’ve got a really simple solution to the streetcar debate: Gather up all the people who think it will be a big success and have them pledge to collectively cover 50% of the losses the streetcar incurs if the project isn’t successful. If the proponents are so sure that the ridership numbers will be really high and this project will bring in enough revenue to fund itself, they should have no problem making this commitment.

    If you are sure that this project won’t be a perpetual money-loser, please sign up below this post.

    • OX4

      There’s an interesting discussion in the book “The Great Society Subway” about the conversations that took place during the design of Metrorail. Opponents made these same arguments — essentially that the transportation system would be a perpetual money-loser, so what was the sense of building the subway?

      The conclusion to the debate was that Metro is and never was intended to make money. It was designed to move masses of people quickly and safely and to provide a viable alternative to car-choked roads.

      The argument of profits falls down when the same criterion is applied to the paved roads that make up Columbia Pike right now. The street as it is makes no money. Therefore, we should replace the road with something that will make money. Right?

      • ArlingtonChick

        I drove down Columbia Pike earlier this week with one lane blocked due to construction. This was the middle of the day–so the traffic on the Pike was pretty light. It was AWFUL.

        I do not believe a streetcar will help the traffic in the area. If you reduce the Pike to one lane (which, let’s face it, you really do since the stretch of road between where it’s starting to where it’s ending is, what, 2 miles?!?!) the traffic will be as bad as 395 is going to be when that deathstar on Seminary opens up. Yeck.

        A streetcar WOULD make sense if it was a part of a greater good. All the board is doing is thinking how “cool” street cars are, and replacing perfectly fine buses with “cool”, extremely expensive street cars. Not worth it. Seriously.

        I know those of you who do not drive to work are just as excited as the board about the streetcar, but this is not metro. You still have to transfer. It really is the streetcar to nowhere, because it’s only serving a few miles and won’t really connect to anywhere. Please, explain to me the point?!?! There is none!! It’s just cool because SFO has it and H street will have it one day when heck freezes over.

        (And, for those of you who are going to call me a South Arlington hater, I live in South Arlington and love it. I just can’t see the “greater good” of a streetcar–because it will be more bad (drain money, more traffic) than good (move slightly more people)).

        • drax

          1. It would take cars off the street. You can’t compare it to today’s traffic.

          2. It would connect with Metro. Just like a bus or whatever. Transferring isn’t a big deal.

          • Went With The Breeze

            Buses already do both 1. and 2.

            And I think they are going to reduce the frequency of bus service if the streetcar is built. So you are just shifting people from buses to streetcars and I am not sure how you assume that takes cars off the road.

          • ArlingtonChick

            Exactly! There’s no reason to spend hundreds of millions of dollars for something that looks fancy when buses do the same job. Just use the double buses during rush hour. The streetcars have to follow the stoplights, just like buses do. So really, I don’t see how they are going to help, but rather, make more traffic (especially during the build out) and cost a ton of money.

        • Josh S

          I’ve been to SFO. I don’t remember ever seeing a streetcar there. They do have the coolest sculptures in the international departures terminal, though.

          The. Streetcar. Will. Not. Reduce. Columbia. Pike. To. One. Lane.

          The current plan calls for five miles of streetcar, not two. The eastern terminus will be the Pentagon City metro and western terminus will be the Skyline neighborhood (close to where George Mason and Route 7 meet) – which is home to a major shopping center, significant office and residential towers, and a community college, to name just a few. Calling it a streetcar to nowhere is more a little inaccurate.

          • Matt Wavro

            Josh S.
            The Trolly will bring back the Columbia Pike Slalom which was roundly disliked by everyone across the ideological spectrum.
            If Columbia Pike was as wide as the streets in San Francisco that currently have a streetcar this would be a much different proposition. The Arlington County Board has spent the last five years narrowing Columbia Pike and now they will slow it down even more by forcing slalom driving or effectively shutting down one lane to most sensible drivers.

          • South Arlington

            We already have to do the Columbia Pike slalom with the unpredictable and terrible drivers of the Metrobuses. At least the route of the streetcar is predictable.

          • Matt Wavro

            South Arlington,
            You should email Chris Zimmerman. He stated in a County Board meeting that he should get credit and is responsible for fixing the Columbia Pike Slalom. Was he mistaken or was he taking credit for something that he didn’t do?

          • South Arlington

            I’d be happy to, although I’m not really sure what he can do about bad WMATA drivers making erratic stops, swerving between lanes, and ignoring traffic signs. I really can’t see how the fixed route of the streetcar could be worse.

      • John Fontain

        Fair enough. I’ll modify to ask people to cover 50% of the difference between the net cost of (1) street with streetcar and the (2) street only.

    • drax

      Why would someone cover losses when they have nothing to gain?

      If you want to sell bonds, or stock in a company, where I stand a chance to make a profit, fine. I’m not going to take an extra risk for no gain. (That only works when huge companies want bailouts!)

      • John Fontain

        Fine, if you sign up you’ll get 50% of the net profit after all costs are covered (including financing and debt service).

        Any takers?

        • drax

          It’s going to make a profit? How much? You want to sell highways too? What about public schools?

        • South Arlington

          Do I get a share of the new personal property taxes, commercial taxes, development related fees, and construction/development profits also that are all going to be spurred on by the streetcar installation? If so, then yes, yes I’ll invest. As it is, the County will reap the windfall profits from all of those auxillary revenues brought in from the INVESTMENT in the streetcar operation/infrastructure.

  • Burger

    As an aside on PPP,

    It is run by Democrats so I would take any poll that shows Obama winning handily in Virginia with a giant grain of salt.

    The Democrats haven’t had their lunch handed to them in the last two elections (one only 7 weeks ago) and the electorate all into Obama.

    • Jim Webster

      From PPP’s analysis of the poll:

      Part of the reason for the state’s blue trending in the last decade is that it has seen an influx of settlers from other parts of the country, particularly in the D.C. suburbs. 34% of the state’s voters do not consider themselves Southern, and with those non-natives, Kaine has an enormous 61-29 lead over Allen. Allen is saved by posting a 47-41 edge with the two-thirds who do consider themselves part of the region. Both candidates grew up outside the state, but Allen has adopted the Southern heritage to fit in with the state’s largely white, rural Republican Party.

  • CrystalMikey

    Since we are all streetcar blah-blah-blah around here, I’d like to give some kudos to Linden Resources for the opportunities they provide. I didn’t even know they existed, but it was nice to read about them. Thanks ARLnow (and channel 9)!

  • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

    Those who do not remember history are destined to repeat it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Virginia_trolleys

    • South Arlington

      Good thing the situations in the 1930s and the 2010s are the same – same density, same traffic, same jobs, same populations, same technology, etc.

      • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

        Same transportation solution ideas.

        • South Arlington

          OK, what is the lesson from history from the Wiki article you posted? That people chose cars back in the 1930s that put streetcar companies out of business? The roads were clear of traffic back then. I’d choose a car also. Today is a completely different situation.

          • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

            “The roads were clear of traffic back then.”

            Apparently so were the trolley lines.

            The roads won’t be clear of traffic now, and the trolley is going to share the road. It isn’t worth the cost when a bus will serve the exact same purpose at lower cost. It’s just fru fru, and that’s all it is. Whether that’s enough to sustain the operation for longer than past trolleys will remain to be seen.

          • South Arlington

            I don’t think it’s just a traffic issue. I do believe the streetcar will entice more people to take public transit than buses, and I get that the streetcar will be bigger and might have a sensor that will ensure it doesn’t wait at lights. I think the bigger benefit is the business investment it will bring (and has already brought) to the Columbia Pike corridor. The increased tax revenues from new residents, businesses and development are the real windfall for the coffers, not the fare that people are paying to ride. They could let people ride the streetcar free and in all likelihood still make a huge windfall above and beyond the cost to install the thing.

          • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

            I really can’t agree with your logic about a windfall while not charging a fare. If that were true, it certainly would be true for metrorail as well. Look at the development it spurred along the Orange Line. Where’s the windfall? Metro struggles to maintain elevators, tracks, and is essentially near over-capacity. Even with fares, it struggles to make ends meet.

            Also, have you ever been caught up in the traffic mess created when an emergency vehicle uses the doohicky on-board to allow it to not have to stop for lights? Gridlock, because all the lights now function to stop cars to allow the vehicle to pass. So, the trolley will create gridlock with this doohicky. Plus, how would it work? The trolley shares the road……

          • South Arlington

            The windfall on the Orange Line is the hundreds of millions of dollars of real estate wealth created all along the corridor, the millions in additional taxes collected by the County, the millions in business earnings that come in from businesses/restaurants/bars that would not exist if not for the Orange Line related development. It’s small minded to think the finances of a transit system are tied only to the income from fares vs. the cost of operating the train/streetcar.

          • Josh S

            It’s not only small minded, it’s not how the costs are benefits are calculated. There is no way ARlington would be considering this streetcar if they didn’t think it would result in increased development and business activity along the Pike. I doubt there is a transit operation in the country that earns enough just at the farebox to pay all costs associated with it. Neither do fire departments earn money to pay for them. Nor libraries. Nor, for that matter, most roads. It’s absurd to try to hold a transit system to a standard that no other public service is held to.

          • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

            ok…so you are saying the trolley should be free to ride and the massive expense of the operation should be on the back of the taxpayers? And, the County and private businesses should benefit? All taxpayers, incluidng those who don’t use the trolley, should pay for it? That’s absurd. The reason there is a fare is to have the user help pay for the system.

            By the same reasoning, the County should provide me an automobile because I’ll travel to and from places of business, utilize local repair and muffler shops, and will generally add to the local economy because of my mobility. That’s just as absurd.

          • Josh S

            I’m not sure who OB’s most recent post is in response to. I certainly never said that the trolley should be free. What I did say is that to expect the revenues at the farebox to meet all the costs associated with the trolley is unreasonable and not generally how government provided programs operate.

            I’m not sure how the “County” benefits. Are you referring to the County government? How would the county government benefit from the existence of a trolley? It seems nonsensical.

          • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

            Josh, see South Arlington’s reference to the County tax benefit. The tree structure of the posts break down after a number of responses….

          • South Arlington

            It wasn’t a policy proposal. Obviously, they are going to charge a fare to help offset operational cost. It was merely a reductio ad absurdum. The main point was that the streetcar related development and the windfall it will bring with it for homeowners, business owners and the County itself is revenue/benefits that you aren’t taking into account in your simplistic analysis of fares vs. operational costs.

          • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

            My simplistic analysis also takes into account capital costs, which apparently are going to be significant.

          • South Arlington

            Of course, investments in infrastructure/capital costs are usually significant. A high price tag alone is not a reason to reject something. You measure the value of that investment. In this case, you’ve chosen not to address ancillary revenues that streetcar driven development would bring, not to mention millions and millions of dollars in increased wealth through appreciating property values thanks to improvements in the Columbia Pike corridor.

          • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

            No. I’ve not chosen not to address those revenues. They will exist. The disagreement is in the quanitfication of those revenues. I don’t believe a streetcar will bring those revenues in alone. And, I don’t believe those revenues can’t be obtained without a streetcar. The capital costs alone, while not a reason to reject a project, certainly tilt the economics negatively if you believe development won’t come or will come anyway without the capital cost investment. We just disagree on the outcome, but certainly the methods of analysis are the same.

          • South Arlington

            If you really think development would come anyways, that staying with the status quo would lead to the same result in the end, then more power to you. I give you credit for actually making points and having intelligent discourse (unlike the buffoonish Professor Periwinkle) I’ll still respectfully disagree. I don’t believe that the Ragtime folks would have invested 2 million dollars into their new restaurant without the streetcar (the same goes for Eamonn’s and Cathal Armstrong). I don’t believe the Siena Park building they are located in would have been built if not for the streetcar. I think they would have had more difficulty obtaining financing, and I think it’d be difficult to build a long term business plan with the rents they are charging without the assumption of the streetcar being built and justifying higher rents down the road.

            Your solution seems to be do nothing and stick more buses on the road (because somehow more buses won’t obstruct drivers more than having 5 or 6 larger streetcars on the entire stretch of Columbai Pike). I suppose you could hypothesize that this will eventually lead to the same level of economic development and investment (not sure if you are making this assertation), but I’d safely say that most evidence shows that this would not be the case, both academic and empirical.

          • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

            Certainly a lower capital cost would make the project much more palatable. Given the capital cost, I’d like to see the removal of the over head power lines. The nostalgia of a trolley that is attractive to some business is uglified by the overhead power lines, given that lines have fairly recently been buried. I’d also advocate, at the given cost, that an additional trolley lane should be created rather than utilizing an existing traffic lane. More throughput, of all transportation types, aids in the dense development and mobility in the area. We’ve certainly seen that demonstrated with over and underground rail.

            The commerical building industry currently is hurting as much or more than the residential. There are portions of this country where no development would occur even if you put in a trolley. Then, there are portions like the DC area, where developments thrives regardless. How did Tysons Corner get the dense development it currently has, from the farms of 35-40 years ago, without a rail? Developers were hardly scared away. When the commercial building economics turn, rail or no rail, in demand areas are going to thrive. If you think the price tag on the trolley is worth it to speed that process up by 5-10 years, then we will have to disagree.

          • South Arlington

            I think the overhead power lines are a matter of taste. San Diego is the most beautiful city I know of in the U.S. and I don’t believe the overhead trolley lines detract from the beauty or bay views. But again, different strokes. I’d prefer a separate lane as well, but I don’t see how that’s feasible without trading a traffic lane for a streetcar lane. If they can figure out a way to do it, then great. If they can’t, I still believe more buses will muck up traffic more than a streetcar. I also believe, like it or not, more affluent 20 somethings are more inclined to take a streetcar than a bus (and again, like it or not, those are the demographics of the people primarily moving into these new developments).

            Tysons development came about in a time when traffic was substantially better. The emphasis on the need for public transit wasn’t there. The existing road infrastructure was adequate, which it no longer is. The problem is we built and developed around that inadequate road infrastructure, making it difficult to build more without tearing down what has been built. I’m not sure where you got your 5-10 year figure. I still believe it is a much longer timeframe, and I still don’t believe the current developments that have gone in, nor the ones on the books (Rosenthal, etc.) would be moving forward without the expected increased demand from the streetcar.

          • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

            Tysons came about because of added transit volume: The Beltway. The Orange Line corridor developed and grew because of added transit volume: metrorail. In both cases, development happened around the throughput. For the good and bad, that is what happens because of a lack of limits and controls on transit/growth happening together.

            The trolley, on the other hand, will not be adding throughput. It is a glorified electric bus which will take a transit lane. Fossil fuel buses will be reduced, thus hindering throughput increases. Yet, development will increase only to be choked back by the realization that congestion is as bad as it ever was. All this coming at substatial capital cost. Look, I’m not against the trolley. I’m against the trolley as proposed at the large capital cost. If you going to spend that kind of money increase throughput so that denser development is appropriate. And, don’t sell me a goat and tell me it is a thoroughbred.

          • South Arlington

            I haven’t seen the data about transit capacity being reduced. I’d be interested in reading it. My understanding was that the streetcars were larger with more capacity than buses. I’d also seen the plan was 5 or 6 streetcars on the line – this seems like a number that could be increased if the demand was there (although I’m not a party to the engineering documents that would discuss electrical requirements and whatnot).

            In the end, you want transit throughput, I want economic development to be attracted to my neighborhood. Firmly, I do not believe more busing will achieve those goals. I do not believe laughable ideas like double decker buses will achieve those goals (let alone go under the Washington Blvd. bridge). I’d prefer Metro, but with that option being nearly impossible, I think efforts can be made to make the streetcar accomplish both goals.

  • charlie

    i’m fascinated about the cost per mile idea.
    shouldn’t it be cost per actual user?

    • Lou

      I would also like to see numbers for the Silver Line used in this comparison.

      • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

        You would have to compare the Silver Line costs to the costs of a trolley built in the same right-of-way (or at least serving the same service area).

        • Lou

          Well yeah, I guess that is where I was going with the suggestion. All of these comparisons are oranges to apples, which is why Grant’s analysis is terrible.

          • Professor Periwinkle

            The other thing he fails miserably at pointing out is that less than 25% of the Beltway HOT lanes cost is on Virginia taxpayers. The vast majority of the cost is being taken care of by the private investors through direct equity and private debt equity.

            So really, if he wants to use the $1.4 billion total project cost number, he would get just under $300 million in round numbers for the comparative cost to the taxpayer, to the streetcars recent estimate, which is still climbing. So for 20% more cost to taxpayers, the HOT lanes are 3 times longer and serve 150% more users.

            Got to love the math.

          • Josh S

            Yes, and the previous draft contract also stipulated that if the percentage of cars with multiple occupants using the HOT lanes (and thus exempt from the tolls) got too high, the state would be on the hook for “lost revenue” to the road’s operators. So to protect the revenue of the private corporation operating what would normally be viewed as a public good (a road), the state would have to take steps to discourage activity (carpooling) that would otherwise have public benefits (reduced pollution, reduced traffic, reduced oil consumption, and all the resultant benefits associated with those things).

            Making comparisons is an extremely complex thing. It is very difficult to know all the facts. Your math isn’t any better. (And unless your doctorate was in transportation economics or something like that, it is probably worse.)

          • Professor Periwinkle

            My math is based on his numbers in the GGW blog post and data in the public record about the HOT lanes. The streetcar cost is an estimate.

            So for starters the cost to the taxpayer is more than double per mile for the streetcar and it serves 60% less users than the HOT lanes.

            That’s a tough hole to dig out of, but I’m offering you a chance to fill in the rest of your numbers and show which is more expensive per user/mile. What ya’ got?

    • Burger

      Well, Mark Twain once said.

      “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”
      - Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review

      Hence, why someone that is pro-trolley is going to use statistics that support their argument. While a anti-trolley person will use others and simple note outside of very dense urban areas it is infinitely cheaper to build roads for people to use cars or busss on than hard lines.

  • MC

    The arguments for building a trolley are very sound. If you look at the 20 year forecast of population and job growth produced recently by GMU for the Council of Governments, you can see that the DC area collectively will be adding over a million new jobs and even more residents. To capture even a small fraction of that and not be let out of the growth, Arlington needs to promote commercial and residential density where it isn’t (e.g. Columbia Pike) while finding transportation solutions. The trolley moves volumes more people through Columbia Pike than current buses (they hold more people). You can’t put more cars on Columbia Pike in any scenario, so they should not be prioritized — they take up valuable space.

    • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

      But you can put more buses and not spend the fortune in added infrastructure.

      • South Arlington

        Which completely goes against the arguments from detractors that the streetcar will hinder traffic. Sticking even more buses on the road will hinder traffic more! The amount of buses we have on Columbia Pike now is already excessive and already slowing traffic.

        You’d also not get any ancillary returns from new development, new investment and new businesses with more buses.

        • Professor Periwinkle

          So, if you don’t get your streetcar, there will never be any new development, new investment or new businesses on Columbia Pike?

          • Josh S

            No one is arguing that.

          • South Arlington

            When I moved to Columbia Pike in 2003 until about 2009 when the Halstead building actually started construction, the Pike was stagnant. The closest thing to a new business was L.A. Bar and Grill converting form a Salvadorean restaurant to a dive bar. If you think the Halstead, Siena Park and Penrose Square would have happened without the streetcar plans, you’ve revealed yourself to be someone who has no working knowledge of commercial development or real estate.

            Businesses that are signing 10 or 20 year leases don’t go investing millions of dollars into new ventures that have uncertainties (like buses where schedules can be canceled or changed on a whim), and like it or not, the streetcar is far more attractive to developers that are investing hundreds of millions than buses.

          • Professor Periwinkle

            I’m pretty sure it is you who have no concept of real estate or development. You are actually implying that nobody ever signed a 10 year lease for office space on a street that only had bus service. You sound desperate.

            If you are at work right now, I bet there is not a streetcar servicing the front door of your office building. Now pause for a moment and think about how much money was invested in your building, from land acquisition costs, to design and engineering costs, to construction costs, to tenant build out costs for everyone who has ever occupied space in your building. And yes, all the lease payments over the years.

            How did all that happen without a streetcar at your front door?

            Seriously, give it some thought.

          • South Arlington

            Um, yeah, there’s not a streetcar (although the H Street streetcar isn’t too far a walk), but there’s a giant underground train at my front door.

          • Professor Periwinkle

            Was your building built after Metro? What was there before?

          • South Arlington

            I’ll also add that the very large building I’m in would not have been built were it not for transit access. Would any of the large development in Clarendon have been done if not for transit? Strongly doubt it.

            And please, point me to the all of the office buildings that have been built on Columbia Pike recently. The new businesses I’ve seen interviewed (like William Jeffrey’s) have explicitly stated that the streetcar was a primary motivator in them investing 2 million dollars into their new location.

          • South Arlington

            Periwinkle, yes, it was built well after Metro. It used to be a parking lot. Most high rise development in the area was done post-Metro (in most case replacing low rise development or open space)

          • Josh S

            Folks, I think you’re missing the point.

            Transit has clearly been shown to contribute to economic development.

            End of argument.

            One does not need to demonstrate that no economic development would happen without transit.

          • Professor Periwinkle

            That’s like saying the National Geographic building would have never ever been built without the Metro at its front door. Oh wait, it doesn’t have Metro right there. Using words like never will always get you in trouble. I could go on….

          • South Arlington

            1. I never used “never”. You are the only one to use the word “never”.

            2. Using semantics as an argument is a telltale sign of a terrible argument/arguer.

            3. Would investment on the Pike happen organically without transit? Quite possible, although probably at a much slower pace and to a much smaller scale. I’m not clear on what your point is. That the streetcar won’t have an effect on economic investment on Columbia Pike? If so, it’s a ridiculous argument disproven by decades of empirical evidence. It’s also disproven by current businesses that are investing millions in the area and cite that the streetcar was a key reason for their investment. It’s also disproven by the H St. NE corridor which has thrived during streetcar construction, and has continued to attract new investment in the area while increasing demand and property values of nearby housing (in what can best be described as a formerly depressed area).

          • Professor Periwinkle

            The new Arlandria development that is nowhere near Metro. I could go on……

          • Professor Periwinkle

            Everything in Shirlington Village.

          • South Arlington

            Once again, will investment happen sans streetcar? Probably, but again, on a smaller and slower scale. Would there be as much investment and economic development if we keep the status quo? No, of course not.

            Stating an unrelated development in another municipality hardly proves your point (if there is even a point to be made by your disjointed “arguments”). BTW, “nowhere near a Metro” is false, especially with the new Potomac Yard Metro station being built.

          • Professor Periwinkle

            So, you’re statement that “You’d also not get any ancillary returns from new development, new investment and new businesses with more buses.” is not entirely true? Shocking!

          • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

            The underground metro is fast and not car traffic dependent. It is added throughput compared to the roadway above. The trolley, however, will take a road lane and will be traffic dependent. In addition, the mobility of the trolley is limited to the track while a bus can maneuver around issues more easily.

            The trolley is not the same kind of transit as the metro rail.

          • South Arlington

            Buses also “take a road lane” and are “traffic dependent” except there are more of them on this stretch of road, drive erratically, require more overpaid union drivers, and carry less people. Both options annoy drivers – but one option drives investment into the area better. Obviously a streetcar isn’t the same as a Metro, but as we are already seeing, streetcar plans are driving big investment on the Pike already, which at least for my household, is already improving our neighborhood amenities and walkability.

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