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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com August 4, 2011 at 8:26 am 3,807 67 Comments

Happy Birthday, Mr. President — Last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting included a special birthday tribute to President Barack Obama, who turns 50 today. ACDC members sang a rendition of “happy birthday” and then chowed down on slices of birthday cake.

Suspect Eludes Cops, Helicopter — A man suspected of an unspecified crime in another jurisdiction fled from Arlington police just after 10:00 last night. The man took off on foot during a traffic stop on the 1700 block of N. Quebec Street, just north of W-L High School. Police set up a perimeter, called in K-9 units and requested assistance from the U.S. Park Police Eagle 1 helicopter, in an effort to find the man. The search was called off around 11:30, but all was not lost — police were able to nab the three other suspects in the vehicle.

Stolen iPhone Dealers Busted in Pentagon City — Two cellular phone kiosks in the Pentagon City mall have been busted by Metro Transit Police for allegedly selling stolen iPhones. The illegality was discovered while police were investigating “the theft of a large number of electronics equipment from Metro riders in early 2010.” [Washington Examiner]

Arlington’s Low Transportation Costs — Rent and real estate costs in Arlington may be high, but the average cost of transportation is relatively low. According to a new study, transportation (car and transit expenses combined) costs Arlington residents about $975 per month. The regional average is $1,246. “Transportation costs in Arlington County are significantly lower than the regional average due to high levels of transit connectivity and job access,” the report says. [Center for Neighborhood Technology, DCist]

  • Lee-n-Glebe

    That cell phone business was a small business supporting the economy!

  • Stringfellow Hawke

    That chopper pilot got punked!

  • CW

    Why are OUR police and OUR K-9 units not setting up perimeters and calling in air support when OUR banks, whose taxes pay THEIR salaries, get robbed on a daily basis??!

  • James

    I enjoy when actual crime happens in Arlington. It means I can wake up the next morning for work without 8 parking tickets on my car……..

  • Steve

    Ah, so that’s why that helicopter was keeping me up last night.

  • billj

    Who knew Brian Johnson liked cake?

  • Southeast Ben

    Arlnow Oddsmakers:
    17:1 of an Arlington Bank Robbery today
    13:1 of an Arlington Bank Robbery by Saturday

    • Richard Cranium

      Can I get odds on a flash flood / earthquake / plague of locusts in Donaldson Run?

      • Josh S

        Apparently, they’re all in Tblisi….along with snakes and withering heat….

  • GreaterClarendon

    We knew something was up near Hayes Park when police cars were driving slowly down the street and the helicopter passed overhead every couple of minutes for nearly 2 hours.


    How much would transportation costs calculate to if taxes for public transit were factored in?

    • RosRes

      Then we’d also need to factor in taxes for public roads…

  • kfranw

    I was wondering what the helicopter was all about. My dog was going crazy beacuse it kept circling our block with the searchlight – pretty freaky!

  • Josh S

    I wonder about the methodology that results in an area average of $1,200 a MONTH for transportation. I mean, yeah, if you’re in Fairfax, you’re definitely paying more in gas than if you’re in Arlington just cause distances are greater, there are many fewer opportunities to walk, etc. But so that means you’re paying $120 a month in gas instead of $60-70. Where does the other $1,100 come from? Insurance? OK, that’s another what – $100 a month? Let’s say you ride Metro all the way from Vienna every day and it comes out of your pocket, it’s not a federal benefit. What’s that, another $150-200 a month? How does it add up? Especially to result in an AVERAGE of $1,200 a month?

    • normal

      Too bad there isn’t a link to the study so you can see for yourself how they did the calculations.

      Oh, wait, there is.

      See page 11 of the report, it gives an example. Remember, this is per household, so the average household (in Fairfax at least) is going to have two cars with two drivers. That’s two car payments (averaged out, remember – some cars are paid up, some aren’t), and two insurance bills and two gas and maintenance bills. From the report:

      “As an example, a household owning two automobiles (at an average annual cost of $5,598 per auto), driving a total of 20,000 miles annually (at an average cost of 5.5 cents per mile), and never taking transit has average annual transportation costs of $12,296. Compared to this, a household owning one automobile, driving 10,000 miles annually, and spending $100 per month on transit has annual transportation costs of $7,348, or nearly $5,000 less.”

      • Josh S

        Wouldn’t be ARLNow if someone couldn’t answer a question without throwing in a little snarky dig…..

        • normal

          It’s the Internet – snark is mandatory.

      • Burger

        Does it take into account high mortgage payments or rent?

        • ZoningVictim

          Seriously guys, read the report. Dishing out the information in the report one singlet at a time in response to questions posted here is unnecessary since all of these questions are answered in the report. It’s actually very interesting.

        • OddNumber

          There are so many costs interwoven that the analysis isn’t trivial, and they did a nice job of pulling it together. But many factors were ignored that drives up costs in the most densely populated areas: property tax on vehicles (I am unaware what other jurisdictions impose this tax), parking fees (garage spaces, meter fees, etc), and other transit methods (cabs, zip car, bikeshare, etc). Not to mention higher prices at retailers, restaurants, etc. The report also ignores tolls and the opportunity cost presented by your time commuting long distances, so maybe the analysis gaps aren’t so one sided now that I think about it.

          I am always a bit put off by these types of analysis as they look at total cost, as opposed to cost per square foot. $400k buys completely different types of properties in Arlington than it does in Culpeper (1bdrm condo versus enormous single family home).

      • I’d like to know if it takes into account the cost of the numerous pairs of brown flip flops each person goes through each month walking to pizza and cupcake joints.

        • normal

          Read the report for yourself. Look under “flip-flops, brown” in the index. Jeez, people.

    • jan


    • david

      I don’t get it either. Even if you factor in depreciation, replacement tires, oil changes, filters and other general maintenance it would be hard to reach $1200 / month.

      • RosRes

        Not if you include car payments as many people either lease or make loan payments on their cars.

      • ZoningVictim

        Except that you haven’t purchased anything to drive yet (a $25K car at 0% interest for 5 years is still going to cost around $415 a month in payments) and you guys are only considering driving to work, which is only one part of a person’s transportation costs. Many people in the city don’t own a car at all, which brings the average transportation costs down significantly.

        • ok….assuming you walk or bike. If you take a bus or train you are paying. You are also paying if you put a dollar value on your time. Let’s say the value of a hour of your time is $40. That adds up very quickly if you are taking extra time to ride public transportation or walk.

          • Anon

            Lets see which orange line gets to metro center/K street faster during rush hour – someone on the metro or someone in a car.

            Avg wait for a rush hour train 3 minutes, 12 minute ride…I have no idea how long it takes to drive but I doubt its quicker than that.

            If they accounted for time in this study I’m sure the stats would be worse for the suburbs. 1hr+ commutes are common and 10 hours of travel time a week easily offsets any weekend waiting a person on foot/bike/public transportation does.

          • Dead on if you are going into the city. That is what metro was designed for. But, if you are going anywhere in the burbs directly not on a short hop metro rail line, good luck saying public transportation is faster. No dice.

          • madisonmanor

            AND only if you live AND work right above the metro station – otherwise you have to factor in the walking time to/from home & station

            AND they should factor in the cost per rider of the metro cars and buses and escalators and maintenance to be fair, but I don’t think being fair was part of the point of the report.

          • CW

            But then they’d have to factor in the cost of roads per driver…would that include the cost of the HOT lanes project? This is getting ugly.

          • Anon

            “But, if you are going anywhere in the burbs directly not on a short hop metro rail line, good luck saying public transportation is faster. No dice.”

            Uh I didn’t say it was. My point was if you live near the metro the time you save on your daily commute makes up for the longer travel time when you have to go somewhere in the burbs.

            And accounting for the cost of time spent traveling won’t necessarily favor one location over another. Although I will say I’m hard pressed to remember the last time I was in a car for more than 30 minutes traveling somewhere in the metro area and I’m sure most people in the suburbs spend at least that long getting to work everyday.

          • Anon, my point was that if your daily commute is not into the city it is less time consuming to drive.

          • normal

            Then there’s driving to park at a Metro station…

          • ZoningVictim

            True, but what I’ve read of the report (the “Executive Summary”) doesn’t take that into consideration (although I’d argue it should). Even if you figured it at $15 an hour, which is what it would cost to pay someone else to do your chores you’d be doing if you weren’t rotting in the car, it adds up fast.

            At 5.5 cents per mile, the report also uses a much lower cost per mile figure than the federal reimbursement rate of 50 cents per mile. If someone drove 18 miles each way to work and their average cost per mile was really 5.5 cents, they would only be spending $39.60 a month on per mile expenses. I drive 9 miles to work each way, and my actual fuel-only costs just to drive to and from work are $77.14, so I’m not sure where they are getting that figure from.

            Either way, the affordability of city housing as outlined by the report relies on not owning a vehicle in the first place, which is not feasible for a lot of people. Furthermore, it really doesn’t matter if you can’t qualify for the city housing on your current income.

          • madisonmanor

            I believe the difference between the 5.5 cents/mile and the 50 cents/mile are because the government’s 50 cents factors in wear & tear and maintenance. Those factors are covered under the $5598 annually per car in the report.

          • ZoningVictim

            Yeah, that makes some sense, except I can’t imagine how someone is driving for only $0.055 per mile even when you only factor in gasoline. The average mileage of a vehicle can’t possibly be 30 MPG, and if you take 20,000 miles per year (the amount used in their example of someone living further out) and divide that by 30 MPG, you’ll end up needing a devilish 666.666 gallons of fuel to cover that distance. At $3.75 per gallon for regular unleaded, that’s $2,500, when you round up, that you’ll need to cover that distance just in gasoline alone.

            Using their calculation, it only costs $1,100 to go that same distance. Something about that doesn’t make sense to me. What am I missing?

      • normal

        That’s for TWO cars, which is the average for a household.

        So that’s $600 per car, which is the average payment over the ownership life of the car, insurance, gas and maintenance, and don’t forget the car tax!

  • John Fontain

    “ACDC members sang a rendition of happy birthday”

    I understanding liking the president, but I find it a bit odd to sing happy birthday to someone who isn’t actually present.

    • normal

      So you don’t celebrate Christmas? 😉

      • Arlwhenever

        Forgot. Obama’s a religious experience.

        • normal

          No, but Christmas is a birthday, duh, and you sing songs. But I guess Jesus is there. He’s “with you always.”


          • John Fontain

            I don’t know anyone who sings happy birthday on Christmas.

          • normal

            Yet I knew I could quickly find someone who does using Google, and sure enough…

            “Late in the afternoon on this particular snowy Christmas day, after our children had worn themselves out playing with their “Santa Claus” gifts, and had finished their usual afternoon naps, Emily appeared at our apartment door with an invitation. We were invited to a “birthday party” in their apartment, a birthday party for Jesus.

            With the excited glee of Jo and Bill we accepted, and about supper time went to celebrate with a cake and candles, the singing of “Happy birthday to you . . .”, and the eating of a light supper and birthday cake. It was indeed a memorable occasion.”


          • FrenchyB

            What about Drill Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket?

    • Theakston

      I always wondered what happened to that band

      • Josh S

        I think they also occasionally make new songs that go straight to video game soundtrack…..

  • Rick

    “ACDC members sang a rendition of “happy birthday” and then chowed down on slices of birthday cake.”


    • Cubmaster

      1. a performance of a musical composition, dramatic role, etc.
      2. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) a translation of a text
      3. the act of rendering
      4. (Military) Archaic surrender

  • How do put a dollar amount on the value of time? I easily save a half hour each way if I drive rather than metro. And, I’m able to park for free. Is the incrimental cost of gasoline and the car worth an hour a day to me? Many days, it is. If you put a value to that hour equal to my hourly working rate, I’m well ahead driving.

    • RosRes

      Bully for you. I save mucho time taking the metro, and also save on parking (it’s not free in DC) and the headaches of traffic. So I’m well ahead not driving plus I save time over driving as I am door to door in 20 minutes. The point you ask? When one is looking at an average, by deifinition everyone falls somewhere above, below and in between. Example, when one says everage income that does not mean everyone makes that income exact income. So, on average transportation is cheaper if you live in Arlington because on average you do not drive as much or as far or need as many cars.

      • Yep. If I had to go to DC I’d be on a train quite a bit probably.

        Thanks for your tutorial on averages. I don’t think I could have figured it out otherwise.

      • david

        While I agree with your point, you (and a lot of people on this blog) seem to think that there is nothing outside of the Blue / Orange lines in Arlington. While it’s great for those of you who live along the metro line, for a lot of people in this county public transportation is not a viable option. I tried my commute one time on the bus / metro and it took a good 50 minutes longer than if I hopped in the car. There is no one size fits all approach to transportation.

        • Ali

          It’s the reverse for me – I live near Metro but Metro doesn’t go near my office in DC. It would be a train ride and then at least 2 buses for me to commute vs. a 20 minute drive.

        • normal

          Yes, for many, transit just isn’t an option.

          But dont’ forget that transit is more than just the Blue/Orange lines. There’s buses too. And there are other alternatives.

          And of course, in the long run, more and more of Arlington will be concentrated around the Metro stations, by design, for just that reason.

          • Yep, and the more density they put around existing Metrorail infrastructure the more undesirable it becomes to use it. Crowded cars, delays….. there are only so many tracks and bridges. We see how good Metro is doing with maintainging it all already.

          • normal

            “and the more density they put around existing Metrorail infrastructure the more undesirable it becomes to use it”

            Still beats highways.

            It’s a city, it’s going to be crowded.

            That said, thanks for pointing out the need for more transit capacity. See you on the streetcar!

    • Reginald Winterbottom IV

      Driving definitely takes less time than taking Metro. That said, you do have to (usually) pay for parking. But some people who work in DC get free parking. Then again, some get free Metro.

      Ignoring the freebies in either case, Metro is on average about $6 round-trip from Arlington to DC during rush hour. Driving in a 20-mph (city) car is at worst a gallon, or $3.75, RT. You can get cheap parking at the Kennedy Center ($150/month) and then walk to most places downtown pretty quick from there. That’s about 220/month vs. 120/month for Metro.

      So on that point, Metro is slightly cheaper.

      But when you add up the costs of the cabs and Zipcars that most non-car-owners sometimes use, I’m guessing it evens out a lot.

      And as others have noted, driving is usually faster and more comfortable. And no one will steal your iPod.

      • normal

        By far the biggest savings for our family by using alternative transportation is simply owning one less car. No car payment, no insurance, etc. Much bigger savings than simply owning a car that you leave at home.

        • Own an older car if you need one but don’t use it much. You can get them cheaply, insurance is low, taxes are low. Maintenance could be an issue, but if you handy and know a little bit about cars it ends up being a dirt cheap option to get around for short periodic trips.

          • normal

            Still alot cheaper to just not own one at all. Insurance isn’t cheap, even liability-only coverage. But that’s another option. We just went down to one car. We always have Zipcar in a pinch. In any event, you get the point – the savings can be big if you eliminate more than just the cost of gas.

      • normal

        “Driving definitely takes less time than taking Metro.”

        Not for me. It would be about the same.

  • So, the phones were stolen in early 2010 and in mid-late 2011 they are making a bust. Llllleeeeetttttssssss nnnnnnooooootttttt wwwwwooorrrrrrrkkkkkk tooooooooooo fffffaaaasssssttttttt.

    • Rick

      They had to take metro there…

  • Roquer

    Do us all a favor. Don’t report junk like Obama’d BD along w/important stuff like suspects escaping from police.

  • ArlForester

    So they sang songs to a man who wasn’t there for his birthday? Yep, he really is the new Jesus.


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