County Board Challengers Urge ‘No’ Vote on Streetcar

by ARLnow.com July 23, 2012 at 10:30 am 6,298 187 Comments

The Republican and Green Party candidates for County Board have both released statements calling for the Board to vote “no” on the Columbia Pike streetcar.

The controversial vote is scheduled to take place at tonight’s County Board meeting, which will start at 6:30 p.m.

Republican County Board candidate Matt Wavro and Green Party candidate Audrey Clement — who will be facing Democratic County Board member Libby Garvey in November — both say that the streetcar is a bad idea.

“We should not hamper the ability of our community to continually improve our plans and development decisions by installing an inflexible, impractical and egregiously expensive circulator trolley that many citizens do not want,” Wavro wrote in a statement, released last week. “Instead of a circulator trolley, I would promote and support enhanced bus service from Columbia Pike and Crystal City through Pentagon City and on into Rosslyn.”

In a statement, Clement said she also supported a form of enhanced bus service on the Pike.

“In addition to its exorbitant cost I oppose the Pike trolley because it would induce demand for housing, thus accelerating gentrification of the Pike,” Clement wrote. “I prefer compact double-deck buses, like those that are being introduced into service in London, rather than articulated buses, on the Pike’s congested roadway”

County staff is recommending the Board approve the streetcar plan, saying the streetcar “will best achieve the vision for the Columbia Pike corridor as a vibrant, diverse, and pedestrian and transit oriented community.”

The full statements from Clement and Wavro, after the jump.

From Republican candidate Matt Wavro:

The residents of Columbia Pike and Crystal City deserve a better plan for the future of our community than a blind rush toward the vanity project that is the planned circulator trolley. The current plan to spend what could end up being nearly half a billion dollars installing two trolleys is not the right plan for Columbia Pike, Crystal City or the region.

I think we all support the goal of a pedestrian friendly Main Street on Columbia Pike and an active, accessible Crystal City. The guidelines in place for such development – the Form Based Code on Columbia Pike and the Crystal City Sector Plan in Crystal City – are starting to change the development dynamic in these neighborhoods. Many, including me, did not agree with all of the underlying decisions of these plans, and we have all started to see the effects of these development guidelines. Some have even started to build ideas on how we can improve upon the current plans as the full effects of development are known.

Development in these areas will indeed have a significant impact on how residents, commuters and visitors traverse these communities. We should not hamper the ability of our community to continually improve our plans and development decisions by installing an inflexible, impractical and egregiously expensive circulator trolley that many citizens do not want.

The current adjustments to Metro rail – known formally as “rush plus” but often referenced as “rush minus,” especially by Blue Line riders – have undermined and complicated current transportation demand management efforts. This calls into question the extent to which any development in South Arlington can continue to be called transit-oriented development.

The vote that our current County Board members will cast on the issue of the Columbia Pike Trolley on July 23, will represent a stark choice. If the Board votes to approve the Trolley, we may lose the best opportunity we have had since the planning and construction of the Metro to better connect residents in South Arlington to the regional transit system. Approval by the County Board is widely expected. Arlingtonians should know that, were I a Member of the County Board, I would focus on transit projects and planning strategies that would support better transit connections and smarter development over vanity projects that don’t address regional issues.

Instead of a circulator trolley, I would promote and support enhanced bus service from Columbia Pike and Crystal City through Pentagon City and on into Rosslyn. This plan would address the mobility challenges of local residents without committing the taxpayers of Arlington to unnecessary future outlays of commercial property tax surcharges for a project that is not part of the solution to our regional transit problems.

For between a fifth and a quarter of the cost of the trolley projects, we can connect thousands of current and future residents to more transit options and maintain a funding source to continue to address transportation challenges throughout the county.

Connecting Columbia Pike and Crystal City to the Rosslyn Metro Station necessitates enhancing the current bus service by using articulated buses – those buses that appear to have an accordion in the middle – express service, and super stops to increase transit capacity and extend the bus service north to Rosslyn, a valuable connection to our regional transit system that no trolley can accomplish. These investments are needed even more after the June 18th service cuts to Blue Line circulation, which have reduced the mobility of South Arlington residents that move north and south along the Potomac to connect with other transit lines.

The $300 Million that the County Board would have Arlington taxpayers spend on vanity development projects such as the Columbia Pike trolley, combined with Metro rail service cuts that will already be in effect before the first shovel would hit the pavement, will set back worthy transportation projects across the whole county.

The loss of the South Arlington’s connection to transit due to Blue Line cuts and the current plan to install circulator trolley’s is bad transportation policy and an ineffective use of local, state and federal funds.

I invite Arlingtonians to stand up with me against the trolley and insist that we make smart development investments that will establish the connections necessary to create a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly main street on Columbia Pike and in Crystal City without putting an undue financial burden on the taxpayers of Arlington.

The residents of Columbia Pike and Crystal City deserve a better plan for the future of our community. E-mail the County Board at [email protected] to politely remind them that you expect a better plan and a better policy than the trolley.

From Green Party candidate Audrey Clement:

I agree with my Republican opponent, Matt Wavro, on the need to scrap the Pike trolley in favor of upgraded bus service. However, I prefer compact double-deck buses, like those that are being introduced into service in London, rather than articulated buses, on the Pike’s congested roadway. Moreover, in addition to its exorbitant cost I oppose the Pike trolley because it would induce demand for housing, thus accelerating gentrification of the Pike. What’s the point of transit subsidies in the form of the commercial real estate tax surcharge when they would be used to evict low income families from the Pike? That’s not only unfair to those earning less than the median income it’s also inflationary, and that can’t be good for the economy.

I am also concerned by numerous reports from other cities regarding the hazards posed by streetcars to bicyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicles. Streetcars are an inflexible mode of transportation, whereas buses designed in the 21st Century are both highly flexible and increasingly attractive to tourists and residents alike.

Expanding circulator bus service across Arlington County and providing increased bus service to and from the District to augment Metrorail should be our transit priorities. We don’t need, and can’t afford, an expensive vanity project that duplicates already good Metrobus and ART bus service.

  • jackson

    Well, I see what the topic of complaint will be on this site today and tomorrow…

    • Chimichanga

      “Enhanced bus service” just needs a catchy name, like say “Rush + “.

      That’s what it reminds me of and will end up being, a failed attempt to enhance an existing service.

      • Josh S

        Actually, several weeks on now, I believe I have noticed a change for the better on the Orange line. I’m getting seats at EFC much more often than I used to. We’ll really see what’s up in September, though.

  • JohnB

    Looking forward to the 5-0 yes vote.

    • Predictomatic

      Garvey will vote no. Possibly Tejada will also.

      • seejay

        Garvey may well vote no, although I have to wonder what her point would be in doing so. She was the democratic nominee for the board, it’s not like her constituency is the republicans. And it’s not like she’ll have a hard time getting reelected every time she wants to run, since she’s got the slot in the presidential year.

        • Mary-Austin

          I would say it is more of a have Garvey vote no and maybe Tejada so the CB can say it is not a monolithic bloc

          • seejay

            Since noone on the board supported Garvey’s run, I don’t think she’ll be inclined to follow their direction on anything.

        • Mick Way

          If Garvey strategically votes no it takes a huge issue off the table for November. She’d be a twit not to do so.

          • seejay

            There’s no way she doesn’t get reelected in November. Whoever has that seat has is for etrnity, theres no way a dem incumbent gets voted out in the year all the dems turn out to vote for president.

      • Bender

        Perhaps, is that because they know that there is otherwise a majority in favor? If theirs were the deciding vote to kill it, would they still vote “no,” or are they doing so because they know that it is effectively meaningless?

      • Better Transit

        Garvey’s a Southie. She’ll see the street car brought to the Pike.

    • Bender

      Yes, they will vote unanimously and claim that the entire County is 100 percent enthusiastically in favor of this when, in fact, there is substantial opposition.

      But even if there are two “no” votes and substantial opposition, as usual, there is no perceived need to get a wide consensus. Rather, they will be all too happy to ram this through even if it is by a 51-49 percent favorability. To be sure, they will ram it through even if it is 65 percent opposed by the people, so long as it gets that bare majority in the County Board.

  • meh..

    Personally…I’m ALL FOR gentrification of The Pike.
    Folks hide behind gentrification like it’s the most horrible thing on earth. Bring on the prosperity.

    • KalashniKEV

      The Pike will always be a slum.

      • Josh S

        I am having cognitive dissonance –

        I recall reading that you are in your twenties.
        My mental image of crackpots is of people in their 40s and above….

        • South Awwlington

          He just wants attention.

      • Ziv

        Kal, it wasn’t too long ago that my neighbors in Rosemont told me that DelRay was full of “riff-raff” and “cars on blocks”. Now DelRay is hotter than Old Town if you are younger than 50. Columbia Pike could be hot in 10 years. Heck, Rappahannack Coffee is a pretty good sign of what is going to happen to the Pike in the next 5 to 10 years. Thai Square and BKK54 aren’t bad neighbors to have, either.

        • KalashniKEV

          I suppose it’s possible, but the requisite displacement of >85% of the current residents and their replacement with more… prosperous individuals would be… “unpalatable” to the liberal sensibilities of our corrupt Democrat county officials.

          The streetcar will pass because it is the personal whim of more than one board member, and there will be an increase in QUAINT CHARM regardless.

          • Ziv

            “requisite displacement of 85% of the current residents”
            Kal, you are making this up as you go along. 85%? The trolley is good because it will encourage people that would never use mass trans to do so. Obviously, a fast bus system would be cheaper than a trolley, but white collar workers simply will not ride a bus. But if you put steel wheels on a bus and run it down a rail line, white collar workers will stand in line to hop aboard and tell you about the month they spent in Prague. This is how trolleys have improved property values in several locations here in the States and done even more good in Europe. Trolley’s make people want to live where their tracks are. How many fast bus services can say the same?

        • Del Ray is pretty hot for those of us (just) over 50 as well.

          • Ziv

            I am properly chastened! 😉

  • Oslo

    Vote yes please. A trolley sounds awesome!

  • Citizen

    I am a democrat, I live in Arlington and pay taxes. I am against the streetcar plan because of the costs and mostly agree with what Mr. Wavro stated above.

    • CP Neighbor

      Ditto. I’d also add that this is a vanity project imposed on S. Arl by folks who don’t even live here.

      • South Awwlington

        John, Jim, et al:

        One County Board member does live on the Pike. So do several Arlington County Government Staff members. When you are attempting to call people out, you should probably do so in name and not this passive aggressive BS “by folks who don’t even live here.”

        Thanks to this group, we are ALL aware where the County Manager lives.

        • CP Neighbor

          Fine – one does. But the staff to which you refer are not voting on this measure.

          • South Awwlington

            But they are. They are Arlington voters just like the rest of us (I’d hope we’re all Arlington voters arguing this issues), and they elect Board Members just like that rest of us. Melissa Bondi lost the primary because she seemingly support the streetcar, come h3ll or high water.

            Since that time, multiple reports have been issued and countless committees have convened. The evidence is now in favor of the Locally Preferred Alternative.

            Personal attacks on the County Manager, who is only supporting what the evidence suggests makes her look professional and undermines any legitimate concerns you may have. If you haven’t noticed Arlington shares its largest contiguous border with Fairfax County. To suggest that our concerns are not her concerns is ridiculous, does not share a regional goal and just wrong.

      • Bemused bystander

        “folks who don’t even live here”? Has Zimmie moved?

  • Elmer

    That magic word again: Vibrant!
    This assures its passage.

  • Josh S

    The problem with the Republican’s argument is that he seems to think that uncertainly will promote economic development when it is exactly the opposite. One only needs to note where the vast majority of the economic development in the region has gone over the last three decades – along the metro lines.

    (One also notes his use of language to trvialize the streetcar – calling it a “circulator trolley” – whatever the heck that is.)

    There may be arguments against the streetcar, but extolling the virtues of flexibility when NOT building the streetcar is not a good one.

    Clement argues essentially the opposite point of view, saying that the streetcar will cause *too much* development. This, of course, begs the question of what she means by “too much.” It also strikes me as a bit of a head in the sand approach. Development will happen. End of story. It’s just a question of where and when. If her concern is affordable housing, the Board has already made it abundantly clear that they are also concerned about this and have taken steps (many of them unpopular with the ARLNow crowd) to address the issue. Perhaps she should focus her energies on working on that issue rather than taking a stand that seems, on it’s face, to be counter to what the Green Party normally stands for – public transportation options that serve the needs of the 99% and are environmentally more friendly than individuals occupying cars.

    Seems like these two approaches leave a lot of room for the promoters to argue that the reality will end up be a version somewhere between these two predicted outcomes.

    • JohnB

      Usually when a proposal gets attacked by the left and the right for opposite reasons it means it’s a pretty good idea.

      • Aaron

        You mean like the farm bill or No Child Left Behind?

        • Josh S

          He did say “usually”…..

          • Speaking of vibrant

            The main reason it’s getting attacked is the same: cost. It’s a quarter-million dollar ride to the 70 million dollar pool.

    • Barry

      Massive Pike Development = Pike would become a canyon + neighborhoods along the Pike would be bulldozed for 5 story apartment and condo buildings like Clarendon.

      • Josh S

        Please provide a predicted date for such an outcome. A decade would probably be close enough.

      • Arlanon

        Sounds good to me. Bring it on!!

      • veeta

        You mean like the neighborhoods along Wilson Blvd?

        • bork-a-bork

          Dang I HATE that I can walk from my massively appreciated SFH in now nice but formerly ugly neighborhood to a zillion restaurants, public transportation, umpteen pharmacies and two grocery stores… it’s just horrible…. HORRIBLE I SAY!!!

          I’d MUCH rather have scrubby little strip malls and ill-kept houses next to car dealerships…

    • Id

      The gentrification has already started. Grocery stores and restaurants (William and Jefferies and Lost Dog Cafe’) have sprouted. Even if the streetcar is not built, I think the momentum has started.

      • AL

        The momentum seems to have started, but is fizzling out. The new Penrose Square apartments is pretty much completely vacant. They can’t command Clarendon prices for apartments without having the streetcar come in and make the area more desirable!

        • Josh S

          I wonder what the occupancy rate is. I’ve actually been surprised to see how many of the street level units on 9th are already occupied. I figured they’d be among the last to go.

          • JohnB

            Looks like from the craigslist postings they’re still giving away one month free so they’re probably not full but more full than when they were offering two months free at the outset.

        • Dee

          Exactly, Clarendon-level prices are the issue…why the prices??? It’s not like we are buying into an investment that will someday make it worth our buck.

    • sunflower

      back–with a vengeance!

      • inorite?

        I’m just grateful we had a good two weeks without his commenting not just on every article, but on every frickin comment, too. I was going to say he was on vacation, but maybe he actually got a two-week contract?

        • nom de guerre

          It was great while it lasted, wasn’t it. I thought he might have been pacing off the distance in Arlington’s longest block between the Water Pollution Control Plant and Harris Teeter.

          • inorite?

            nice one.

            I just had a thought, though. No posts from WQ today. Could WQ and JshS be the same person? they both have the same thing where they comment on practically every article and comment thereof

        • South Awwlington

          Isn’t dialogue good? Even if you disagree, it’s interesting to hear someone else’s POV.

          Unless you’re always right. Then I’m sure it gets annoying. 😉

          • inorite?

            I am all 4 dialogue, that dude just wears me out with commenting on every GD thing.

          • sunflower

            what disconcerts me are the DID posts

          • South Awwlington


          • inorite?

            What’s DID?

          • sunflower

            dissociative identity disorder—–multiple personality posts: or multiple posts by the same person under different names (or am i just paranoid?)

          • South Awwlington

            You’re not paranoid. It’s rampant here.

  • J

    There is no reason to vote, everyone in Arlington knows the outcome- 5 to 0 for yes. The Board does what they want.

  • Karen Pena

    I am a republican, I live in Arlington and pay taxes. I am against the streetcar plan because it is not needed and will cost too much!

    • drax

      But as a Republican, you’re probably against pretty much everything because it’s not needed and will cost too much.

    • Ken Schellenberg

      Well you’re entitled to your opinion. I think it’s a great idea – long overdue, and will help revive the Columbia Pike corridor.

      • John K.

        Right on, brah! Froyo, yoga, taverns and beige. Woooo!!!

    • that guy

      I am a republican, I live in South Arlington and pay taxes. I am completely for the streetcar plan! Provide the infrastructure and the private sector will fill in the gaps and make everyone in the area more prosperous.

    • Southie too

      +1 Karen!

  • South Awwlington

    Dear Matt/Audrey,

    Was Metrorail a bad idea too? If not, please elaborate.


    • SomeGuy

      Dear South Awwlington,

      Are you implying that Metrorail and a Columbia Pike streetcar are candidates for a direct apples to apples comparison? If so, please elaborate.

      Voter, Commenter

      • South Awwlington

        Dear SomeGuy,

        I am directly implying that Metrorail and Light Rail (for argument’s sake, Columbia Pike streetcar) Systems help to move large volumes of people through a region whose roads would otherwise be choked with an unsustainable amount of polluting vehicles, idling in traffic for hours on end.

        Metrorail and Streetcar options are more similar than any other option we currently have in the region. If your argument is against public transportation, we will never agree and we should stop this conversation now. If you’re advocating for Metrorail on Columbia Pike, the funding isn’t there and won’t be for another 20 years. This doesn’t mean we sit by idly as population is added to the Pike and are caught with our proverbial pants down.

        In short:

        1. People will ride rail (light or heavy) that WILL NOT ride buses.
        2. Added density on the Pike dictates that need for action
        3. Business will continue to invest in a region that has well planned and operated transportation options
        4. Increased commercial tax revenues will help support and pay for this project within ten years of its completion

        Taking decisive and progressive action on large infrastructure projects takes political nerve and a certain level of faith in the professionals and their expertise with whom you consult. It is time to defer to the knowledge of those people.

        This region will not survive in 2050 without the infrastructure to support it (mobility wise). Perhaps you have not read the population forecasts for the region going into mid-century, but even the notion of a conservative majority and cut backs in federal spending will not greatly alter our population growth in the NCR.

        I can’t imagine what my life would be like living here if our regional leaders (in the 60’s) didn’t have the resolve to get Metro built (and in Arlington’s case, underground also).

        I am quite shocked at the Fair Weather Friend support of by the Green Party for APPROPRIATE transportation solutions.

        As for the Republicans…well, never mind.

        • SomeGuy

          I have no objection to sensible public transportation investments.

          And I concur (generally) with most of your points about the need for an option on the pike. But aside from the astronomical cost difference, the only practical difference between a streetcar option and an enhanced (make it “luxury” even) bus service on the pike is your first point, “1. People will ride rail (light or heavy) that WILL NOT ride buses.”

          In other words, if you and I agree on pretty much every point you made, the only problem the county needs to overcome is people’s snobby perceptions. Therefore, I think a small fraction of the cost difference for these projects (which is in excess of $150 million), could purchase one hell of a SUSTAINED ad/publicity campaign to make people appreciate their new luxury bus line.

          Do you disagree?

          • JohnB

            We don’t question consumer preference in other choices, why should we question it in transportation? There are reasons people have a mode preference for rail over bus. Some of those reasons can be addressed, but not all. Calling people snobs for preferring an easier to understand, more comfortable transportation mode is not a solution. Steel wheel on steel rail is a more comfortable ride than rubber tire on asphalt and no ad campaign can change that.

          • SomeGuy

            I kindly disagree with you JohnB. I don’t support indiscriminate public spending to cater to the most refined of tastes, although your first sentence encourages me to not question it.

            “Steel wheel on steel rail is a more comfortable ride than rubber tire on asphalt…”
            Let’s say you’re right. The proposed streetcar route is about 5 miles in length, and I suspect that any decreased ridership due to subtle discomfort experienced by those public transportation riders with highly discerning butts (again, 5 whole miles) would be offset by the $150+ million in cost savings.

            “Some of those reasons can be addressed, but not all.”
            If you could enumerate the advantages of a streetcar that cannot be offset, I’m happy to keep an open mind.

          • JohnB

            While there is an observed preference for rail over bus there has not been extensive research on why. Most research to this point has focused on car vs public transit regardless of public transit mode. Here is one overview of why: http://www.nctr.usf.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/JPT15.1Scherer.pdf

            They specifically state, though, that the reasons for preference are influenced by location and culture and that the reasons for the preference in one area cannot be generalized. It does give about a 50/50 break down of the reasons for the preference between emotional and rational factors. I would list the emotional factors as the reasons that could be addressed and the rational factors as ones that could not, or would be more difficult to address. Addressing the rational factors would also probably cost a lot more money.

          • Southie too

            People who drive their benz and bimmers are not going to take public transportation – bus nor trolley. Keep tearing down houses and putting up $1-2M houses in place and $3K+/month apt. rents and you won’t see a lot of cyclists/public transit riders. No way – they do not care how much parking costs either, they probably get it as one of their perks.

          • dk (not DK)

            My reason for preferring rail over bus:

            Riding on a bus for any length of time makes me carsick. Riding rail does not.

          • South Awwlington

            As a daily Metrobus and Metrorail rider, the biggest problem with the buses is boarding and disembarking time limits. Also, they are running at or over capacity. An alternate bus plan may partially remedy this in the near time but won’t make the long term goal.

            We need to be able to more people via transit quickly and efficiently, maintaining capacity standards and also luring folks who are not as transit open onto in order to prevent our roads from becoming parking lots.

            As for educating people on buses, I do agree. My 16G bus is nothing but my neighbors. I don’t know why people would be afraid or intimidated to ride the bus. It is simply an extension of our regional rail service, much like the Streetcar will be with added capacity and speed in boarding, fare payments and disembarking.

          • JohnB2

            How would a streetcar make boarding/exiting faster? Busses and the admittedly few streetcars I’ve been on have very similar entry/exit modes.

          • JohnB

            Fare pre-payment and multiple door boarding. Pre-payment would be available under the TSM-2 option, but not the multiple door boarding.

          • South Awwlington

            @JohnB2 –

            Fares will be collected outside of the vehicle, at the station.

            The vehicle will have at least three, if not more, doors.

            All door boarding is typically available in these systems. We won’t be standing on the rain, half way around the block in down pour as the riders in front fidget for change through the single point of entry door system.

          • JohnB2

            OK. They would need to make sure the pre-payment system accepts the Metro SmartTrip cards.

          • South Awwlington


            SmarTrip is accepted on Metrorail, Metrobus, Montgomery County Ride On, Arlington ART, Alexandria DASH, Prince George’s the BUS and all Baltimore MTA services. Their Charm Card can be used on our systems and vice-versa. You can be assured, it will accept SmarTrip.

  • infoleaf

    Just add some express bus service. There’s no reason to have the 6 or 8 bus lines on the Pike and only have one express route.

    • Ken Schellenberg

      I don’t see how an express line actually solves anything.

      • infoleaf

        It will break up the bus traffic and speed up trips to and from Pentagon and Pentagon City during rush hour.

        • John K.

          Yeah, but that’s not VIBRANT.

          • Josh S

            Actually, I think express busses are awesome, but even all the way from Skyline is really not that far to operate an express bus.

          • John K.

            I like express busses, even the faux-express 16F. I support those. Apparently, those won’t attract the “right people” and add to the “vibrant and walkable” Columbia Pike.

          • sunflower

            i prefer my “busSes” to be slow…..

          • kisser

            tell me when and where, baby

          • Josh S

            I looked it up. Either way is acceptable in my dictionary.

          • not your bro

            Sure, now that people have been spelling it wrong for 60 years, dictionary editors have given up. Watch for new rules on possessives vs. plurals in 20 years, and “alot” becoming accepted, since a lot of people get those wrong, too. Proof of a vibrant, evolving language.

  • Lee-n-Glebe

    Shore up the power grid first. By the end of the summer, the outage will be forgotten . . . until the first heavy snow / ice storm takes out trees and power lines. Again. This problem is not going away.

    • that’s what she said

      Nah. When the power goes out, passengers will disembark (detrain?) and pull the streetcar behind them until power is restored.

  • Barry

    Know what the most pathetic part of this charade is? That no one is showing us what the alternatives would look like – double deck buses and articlulated buses and city buses – designed and put into service during the past five years. Nor will they talk about the derailments, vehicle accidents, and injuries to hundreds of bicyclists every year in cities like Portland and Toronto.

    • Josh S

      It’s a grand trolley conspiracy. Very hush hush and on a need-to-know basis only.

  • Becoming indifferent

    There is one problem with this statement about the trolley: “…will best achieve the vision for the Columbia Pike corridor as a vibrant, diverse, and pedestrian and transit oriented community.”

    Let’s be real–“diverse” needs to be removed. Once the trolley starts running, the only diversity left on the Pike will be yuppies and rich hipsters.

    • novasteve

      Don’t worry, the displaced people will get taxpayer subsidized housing to buy their votes.

    • John K.

      Not exactly true… they are wedging in some subsidized housing with the expectation that the currently market-based affordable housing will disapper with the onslaught of bros, brahs, and brosefowitzes.

      • Id

        and brown flip flops.

        • Hollywood

          or the Starbucks or the Starbucks or the Starbucks or the Starbucks or the Starbucks or the Starbucks or the Starbucks or the Starbucks

  • AL

    Let’s give these Columbia Pike residents who have paid for North Arlington’s lavish Orange Line lifestyle for decades ENHANCED BUS SERVICE! That will shut them up!

    What an insult.

    • SomeGuy

      How is enhanced service an insult? Or are you just being condescending toward buses?

    • ballsteve

      And here all along I thought it was high rent paying for the “Orange Line lifestyle.” Thank you for paying for me to live here.

      • AL

        You’re welcome. Now it’s time to reciprocate!

    • Bender

      Let’s give us Columbia Pike residents FREEDOM from this incredibly burdensome monstrosity that will clog traffic even more and be a sink-hole for money, all to satisify a juvenile desire for trendy toys — toys that were abandoned 100 years ago for good reason.

      • AL

        Good reason? Oh that’s right! GM wanted to sell all sorts of buses to every county, city and town in the country!

      • Josh S


        You’ve been drinking at the Tea Party trough for too long. Or was it the George Orwell trough? Not sure which….

        So full of certainly, indignation, and misplaced rage, you don’t even bother to get your facts straight. Streetcars were alive and well long past 1912. (And in some places never were “abandoned.”)

      • South Awwlington

        Did you abandon your car for jet pack sir?

        If so, how much did you pay?

        Surely a vehicle as old a Car should be abandoned too.

        As for the rest of the “Its old and dated crowd,” how many of you know the real reason the streetcars were removed from DC as well as many other cities?

        • sunflower

          some sort of lobbying/pressure from big, bad GM if i remember correctly

          • South Awwlington

            And modernization of bus technology of the time as well as a realization that a larger capacity subterranean option would need to be considered and planned for the booming population of the District.

            The coming of high speed heavy rail transit would reorder the entire rail system in the Region.

            Think of it this way, Metrorail is our spine. Now that we have that structure, we can enhance its ability to meet ridership demands in localized neighborhoods through light rail and bus service.

            Unless you’re a bug, your skeleton (Metrorail) is on the inside. Now is the time to add the muscle and the cartilage (Light Rail).

            PS- Don’t forget about the lobbying efforts of AAA.

          • Josh S

            I love the “unless you’re a bug”

            Gold star.

  • Citizen

    Why is growth and development the desired outcome? Why is it always the better option?

    • AL

      Without it, Columbia Pike will further deteriorate into a cesspool of crime and filth!

      • CP Neighbor

        You don’t live along CP, do you? BTW – if you read the crime reports, they’re usually in N. Arlington or by PC Mall.

        • sunflower

          to paraphrase dillinger: because thats where the money is?

      • John K.

        Seriously? Cesspool? Even when I first moved to the Pike in ’03 and there was a murder right outside my building… it was hardly been a cesspool. Undesirable at times? You bet. Cesspool? Hardly. Get out more.

      • AL

        Certainly over the last month or so, there have been plenty of incidents on Columbia Pike–many close to or directly outside of where I live. 1.) Pedestrian killed by Four Mile Run, 2.) Drunken idiot impaled on pool fence, 3.) Drunken stabbing on S Scott Street with beer bottle with blood everywhere, 4.) Stabbing on Harrison South of Columbia Pike. Anything else I’m forgetting? To me this is an acceptable level of commotion/violence, but if it’s going to get worse, I’d be somewhat disappointed!

    • Josh S

      These are excellent questions.

      Frankly, I think the world would be a better place with about three billion fewer people.

      But they are here. So now what? That’s pretty much what government is for. The private sector doesn’t much care one way or the other, as long as they make money. It’s a tremendous motivator, and government should try to shape that motivation in a way that benefits us all. Even if the streetcar does nothing more than shape development so that more of it happens along Columbia Pike rather than in Sprawlsville, Northern Virginia, we are collectively better off.

      • AL

        Agreed 100%. Getting development to happen in Arlington is better than having it develop on the outskirts of town, where commutes will be longer and use more energy and cause more pollution, not to mention headaches!

  • Jim

    And they want to curtail ART routes for lack of ridership. Their heads are not in the sand, they’re up… The trolley is a ridiculous proposal for a high cost project that will serve a small segment of the people who are actually paying ARLINGTON taxes. For the most part, landlords pay real estate taxes along the Pike, not individual citizens.

    • AL

      The cost of the property taxes to the landlord is reflected in the rent that they charge. And renters who own vehicles pay personal property taxes on those as well, just like everyone else.

      Don’t act like renters are just freeloading.

  • KalashniKEV

    Common sense urges NO vote on Trolley Folley.

    • Josh S

      Can we just call you the Sloganmeister from now on?

  • South Arl

    I live in the Pike corridor and I support the streetcar. “Enhanced bus service” is not an upgrade to the infrastructure. It’s shortsighted to just keep up with population growth without taking steps to actually improve and INVEST in the infrastructure. I think the cost is worth it. There are a lot of people (people with $ to spend) who won’t ride buses but would ride in a streetcar.

    The county’s longterm plan for the Pike corridor addresses many of the negatives people have raised. The plan calls for setting aside affordable housing and for a bike corridor.

    The biggest negatives I see are the cost and the fact that the trolleys are confined to tracks–they’re vulnerable to breakdowns/traffic backups and power outages. But I think these downsides are worth the benefits. Bus service, whether an articulated bus or “compact double decker” (I would NOT ride in one of those!) really isn’t as good.

    Bring on the streetcar & more yuppies!

    -Homeowner & voter

    • AL

      I would love to see a doubledecker bus try to go under Washington Blvd… HA!

      That is what it boils down to. Do you want to invest in Columbia Pike or not? North Arlington says no…

      • Wayne Kubicki

        Those of us who oppose this have a variety of reasons for doing so.

        Personally, I think that if the Pike streetcar was in a dedicated right of way (i.e., had its own lane), the issue would be quite different, and one I might well support.

        I think that as proposed this is a bad idea primarily because I don’t think it’s going to work.

        I also see issues with on-going operating subsidies, because I haven’t read anything on the fare collection issue. With multiple doors, it will be very difficult to monitor.

        The Portland streetcar is always held up as the poster child for the Pike proposal. No one mentions the fact that through the downtown Portland area, the streetcar there is FREE.

        • AL

          We can make it free here, if you like!

        • JohnB

          What do you mean by “I don’t think it’s going to work?”

          • Wayne Kubicki


            I simply don’t see it as a appreciable improvement over bus service (particularly “enhanced” service that could be much more easity initiated).

            There will still be buses on the Pike after the streetcar service begins. The streetcar will get stuck in traffic, get caught behind buses, and will be totally at the mercy of any lane blockages.

            The comparisons to the Orange Line just aren’t valid, IMO, in any respect.

            As I stated above, I question the revenue numbers.

            As a development enhancer, if you research the Portland story, the new development along the Portland streetcar line did not occur until after the city of Portland gave massive taxbreaks to developers to spur new construction.

          • confused

            ive heard that before, but when I google on portland tax breaks, the only thing I see that looks comparable is a limited affordable housing tax break. Could you provide a link to a reliable source detailing the tax breaks?

          • confused

            okay, so no reliable source links to any Portland subsidies other than for affordable housing?

            I ask cause Ive seen that claim made elsewhere. Interesting if its an OToole meme based on the affordable housing program.

          • JohnB


            The streetcar will provide more transit capacity than TSM-2 and can be scaled up as needed where as TSM-2 cannot be scaled up.

            I question the revenue numbers as well. I think they are too low because the FTA model only allows for a 5% mode preference for rail over bus when observation and survey data indicate that it is much higher.

            I question the difference in capital cost and think that TSM-2 is not comparable because it does not account for the increased paving frequency of Columbia pike that will be necessitated by the heavier articulated buses. That cost will be covered by general revenue while the reconstruction of the roadway for the streetcar is included in the capital cost in the FTA AA/EA.

            I question the operating cost differential between TSM-2 and the streetcar in the FTA AA/EA because buses, especially articulated buses, do not last as long as streetcar vehicles, and require a tear-down rebuild much earlier in their life cycle than street car vehicles.

            As a development enhancer I think you’re wrong as well and I’d love if you provided a source for your tax break claim as requested by confused.

          • Wayne Kubicki

            Here’s one link:


            Have no way of knowing whether this fellow had a personal ax to grind or not. But the piece seems to be well-referenced & researched.

          • Josh S

            The author is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and his other books include one about how the government is destroying Americans’ ability to enjoy the American dream.

            Methinks if it was a private sector built and operated streetcar, he’d be all for it…..

          • Wayne Kubicki
          • Wayne Kubicki

            Sorry – not the best of links. Here’s the NYT story from the beginning.


          • JohnB

            With all due respect, Mr. O’Toole sounds like a wacko.

          • JohnB

            Just looked into Mr. O’Toole’s sources (citation 19) and confirmed that the tax abatement he sites as being needed for development was specifically targeted to affordable housing. Not exactly a shocking revelation that below market rate housing needs a subsidy.

    • Elle

      @South Arl – Well I live along the Pike and I oppose the streetcar. We have a well-utilized bus system and the current plans serve all proposed modes of transportation inadequately. Bicyclists get tossed onto 9th and 12th Streets, cars have to run a gauntlet between left-hand turns and right-lane trolley stops. It seems to me “short-sighted” is to deploy a costly, dated, overly “quaint” streetcar system. I have read neighborhood comments by people who say they’d “never” ride a bus but would love to ride a streetcar. I think those same people will take one charming trip and then blanch at the bus people on their precious trolley. Meanwhile the displaced bus riders and other taxpayers will pay for this folly in time and dollars for many years beyond it’s “usefulness”. -Also a homeowner & voter

      • South Awwlington


        Have you read the Columbia Pike Multi Modal Study or any recent articles regarding lane normalization along Columbia Pike?

        From your posting, I would guess not.

        Maybe you would like to come up to speed regarding left hand turn lanes, medians, etc.

        Please do so at http://www.pikemultimodal.com/ –> About Thie Project –> Project Documents.

        The sooner we stop arguing about non-starters, the better.

  • novasteve

    This really revolves around these idiots on the board wanting to pretend they’re in Europe.

    • Southie

      Yes, but Europe is charming and we all know that Arlington is not.

  • Electricbill

    Gentrification is NOT a bad thing. Bring on the streetcar.

  • Arlingtony

    Wavro: “I oppose the Pike trolley because it would induce demand for housing.”

    Let’s just sit back and examine that sentence coming from a candidate for elected office.

    • novasteve

      Obama believed there were 57 states. Obama also told people to seek medical help from Paralegals who fainted from swooning over him.

    • JohnB

      Clement said that.

  • ColFor

    As a republican, Arlington tax payer, Columbia Pike corridor resident and someone who has lived in virtually every neighborhood of Arlington over the last 15 years I fully support the trolley. It is time for south Arlington to benefit from in many of the ways north Arlington has for decades. Gentrification is not a four letter word and is not to be feared as long as affordable housing remains along the pike, which it will. The north Arlington residents who do vehemently disagree with the rail coming to south Arlington need to open their eyes a bit realize how much sense this actually does make for our area and stop denying south Arlington the same benefits they have enjoyed for so long.

    • novasteve

      I’m not going to get any handouts, but a decent size of my monthly income goes to rent, and it will only go up. What happens to people like me?

      • South Awwlington

        Buy on Columbia Pike before its too late?

      • Glen Carlyn NOW

        If gentrification means you’ll get pushed out of Arlington, then I’m all for it.

        • South Awwlington


    • AL

      Hear hear!

    • Bender

      By all means, north Arlington should not have any greater benefits than the south.

      Accordingly, let’s run that streetcar down Lee Highway and Williamsburg and Yorktown and Old Dominion. Let’s stick some of that hyper-density and 20-story buildings up in that One Percenter north Arlington.

      • Thes

        While I think the streetcar is being associated with only 6-10 story buildings (the 20-story ones go where we have full metrorail), I’m not sure that one day extending the streetcar network along Lee Highway would be such a bad idea. There are already plenty of mid-rise buildings on or along Lee Highway, and they could probably use the better infrastructure (and there’s probably more room there to have a dedicated lane for streetcar, as well).

  • Replicant

    Want ‘Vibrant’ ???

    turn it into a pedestrian mall like Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado.

    That place has thrived for 30 years without any autos.

    I challenge Arlington to achieve something as iconic as Pearl Street Mall.

  • ArgumentsAgainst

    1) It will be a waste of money because it will not lead to enhanced investment and payback due to increased tax revenue

    2) It will be very successful at attracting investment and therefore lead to the genetrification of the Pike and loss of affordable housing

    Are there any others ?

    • Yogi Beara

      I think you have accurately captured the gist of the arguments – in a nutshell, the trolley will be such a massive failure that everyone is going to want to buy property next to it.

  • Sam

    I live a few blocks off of the Pike and am in favor of the streetcar. I understand the arguments against it, but feel that the larger picture and experience make it a good option for the community. Try telling someone in the District that they should come out and visit or shop and that it is easy to get to with frequent bus service. That is just a non-starter. Imagine if you could tell them to come out on a new streetcar. No one talks about the great bus service in Portland, OR but we all know about their great streetcar service.

  • Buckwheat

    My first reaction and quick research indicates that many major cities have a history of streetcars and trolleys. Other than San Fran and the tourist factor, most of these streetcars are history. They stopped operating over 50 years ago replaced by more cost effective and modern modes of mass transit or buses.

    My next thought was, has this been studied for the cost and the economic benefit? It has, but many more questions are raised versus being answered.


    From the study:
    “The literature indicates that streetcar projects that connect underdeveloped or underutilized area with the larger
    region offer significant opportunities for redevelopment, property premiums, and increases in property tax
    revenue receipts.”

    Sounds like a lot of “what-ifs” to achieve. Add the complexity of inter-county agreements and intra-county policies, can we afford this huge investment in infrastructure when there are lower cost alternatives.

    Why don’t we optimize the bus service to initiate new development and re-visit the streetcar issue when the economic climate improves and the ridership has been proven?

    • Chimichanga

      Go check out melbourne australia. Works pretty well. I was on it myself.

    • not your bro

      Re: your first paragraph –

      The streetcar network in San Francisco, MUNI, is extensive, and is not there for the tourist factor. Sounds like you’re thinking of the cable cars, which have very limited reach and are a tourist draw. Here’s a map of SF’s light rail. As you can see, it’s big. The T line is the most recent addition, which has greatly helped revitalize an area of the city which was isolated and blighted. http://transit.511.org/static/providers/maps/SF_712200722226.pdf

      Cleveland has had a light rail system for nearly a century, it was never dismantled. It has expanded over the last twenty years, and is a big factor in getting people from the wealthier suburbs to come downtown.

      Portland, San Jose, St Louis, Denver, Minneapolis, etc. etc. – the list of American cities with light rail is long.

      • FrenchyB

        The new Tide Light Rail in Norfolk has also been a big success.

      • Josh S

        Baltimore, Houston, San Diego….

        My question for Buckwheat – will you make the same argument tomorrow?

        • Buckwheat

          I hope I can stay consistent.

          I don’t trust government projections for costs and revenue. History does not demonstrate a good track record.

          It is like Popeye and Wimpy – “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today”

          • not your bro

            and rather than government projections, we’re supposed to trust your assertions . . . like “many major cities have a history of streetcars and trolleys. Other than San Fran and the tourist factor, most of these streetcars are history. They stopped operating over 50 years ago replaced by more cost effective and modern modes of mass transit or buses.”?

            What’s your “track record” comment based on? The same kind of cursory “research” into streetcars that produced the above?

            Governments incur debt. Arlington has a AAA bond rating, despite the economic downturn. I think we’ll be fine.

    • KeynesisnotTHATdead

      “re-visit the streetcar issue when the economic climate improves ”

      yeah the best time to build infrastructure is when labor is scare and interest rates are high, not when labor is cheap and interest rates are low.

      • not your bro


  • confused

    let me get this straight

    The GOP is against the street car because it will NOT induce new development, and so will not pay for itself

    The Greens are against the street car because it WILL induce new development.

    • AL

      Yup. You can’t make everyone happy.

      • confused

        I mean its okay for folks to oppose something from two opposite directions. It happens.

        But it would be nice if the folks involved would at least acknowledge there is an empirical question at issue. Like if the particularly vociferous GOP opposition that thinks the cost benefit doesn’t work, would see that they are counting on the support of people who fear the changes that the GOP denies the street car will bring.

        Of course since they are folks who are happy to say “the majority dislikes Obamacare” without acknowledging that that includes supporters of single payer, I guess I should get used to it.

    • Oliver

      At least those two political parties, while disagreeing with each other, are internally consistent. The most ridiculous opponents of the streetcar are the ones who simultaneously make both of those arguments, not realizing that they are contradictory.

  • AL

    One of the biggest problems now with the busses is that they stop for too gosh darn long. I’ve never seen a bus stop for less than 30 seconds if someone is getting on or off. Perhaps this is a tactic for keeping the timetables uniform (stop busses from bunching up). But more likely, it’s because it’s too hard for people to get on and off the bus

    I wonder if the streetcar will help with any of this. I imagine it would, with more doors and whatnot.

    • Josh S

      ^^^ Desperately needs to ride transit more often.

    • AL

      Haha, I must’ve stopped typing halfway through my thoughts. I meant to say it’s too hard for people to get on and off the bus when there’s old people getting on and off, people getting off the bus out of the front door while people are trying to get on at the same time, people asking the operator questions, people scrambling to pay the fares, etc. Waste of time!

  • btw

    I think the GOP opposition is in line with Pike Spotter’s opposition. Specifically that the Form Based Code is the policy that will induce development not the trolley.

  • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

    Can we all just get along?

    I like to think of the trolley as a thank you gift from the Board to South Arlington for allowing them to put all the affordable housing, shelters and clinics in our ‘hood.

    • Courthouse Res

      there’s a big shelter 2 blocks from my condo now, and in a year it’s going to be next door.

  • DB

    I occasionally read to my son the book, “Maybelle the Cable Car” by Virginia Lee Burton.

    Ironic how the book was written exactly 60 years ago and we are still arguing about the same things today…bus versus trolley.


  • “We should not hamper the ability of our community to continually improve our plans and development decisions by installing an inflexible, impractical and egregiously expensive circulator trolley that many citizens do not want,” “….I am a citizen and I want it. Should have been already installed but greedy GM wanted the monopoly on transportation. Columbia Pike needs something besides buses.

  • Frank

    I live in S. Arlington near the Pike. If I have to pay for county rec centers that I don’t use, swimming pools for other people’s children, etc. then I don’t think it is too much to ask that I be provided with a good transportation option.

    • Trolly Troll

      Good point, if people had their facts straight they would know the streetcar system will cost arlington county the same as the proposed aquatics center ($47mil) and indoor soccer field ($80mil).

  • novasteve

    So the end result will be, to the proponents of this, that South Arlington will turn into a place with hipsters and every bar/restaurant is called the something Tavern that serves wraps, excotic salads and an extensive beer list?

    • SoArl

      And, that would be a huge improvement.

    • Frank

      One can hope! It would be great for my property value. The thrift store and laundromat aren’t doing much for it.

  • If the county is going to spend this kind of money the trolley should at least go into DC. Then it would improve the Pike, bring tourists, improve commutes etc. But for this short distance it seems a colossal waste of money. The idea of something else “fun” or different from a regular bus would be the double decker. Tourists and kids would love it, and it would take up less space than a trolley or articulated bus; and it can pass broken down cars.
    I agree with Elle that people who aren’t riding the bus now aren’t riding it because driving is easier. One ride on the trolley car will be a short-lived thrill – and then what? Change to a bus, a metro or just turn around and go home?

    • novasteve

      It’ll be even more Mickey Mouse than Buffalo’s light rail. The funny thing will be on the first week if not day when this castastrophe opens, there will be an accident that it can’t get by that a bus would have been able to get by.

    • not your bro

      You hit the only thing that bothers me about this project: why no hookup to a metro station? It gets so close to Pent and Pent City, but not close enough.

  • Mc

    I love how Wavro, whoever he is, just makes up numbers out of thin air. If he wants to join the debate and be taken seriously he needs to offer some credible figures based on an engineering evaluation.

  • b0rk

    This project just still doesn’t make sense. So you give people on one road (Columbia Pike) a street car, that goes up and down said road. What is it connecting to of value, that wouldn’t be accessible by a short walk? Why clutter up the lanes of an already crowded and hard to navigate road with tracks? Why make it more dangerous for cyclists? Why give the idiot drivers around here something else to get confused by, and cause accidents?

    If the trolly connected to a Metro stop, then, and only then, would this be smart. Right now it’s a pie in the sky pipedream. Oh boy, let’s connect a luxury apartment building with Bob & Ediths! Great use of taxpayer money.

    I get that the idea is to “stimulate” growth, but what practical purpose does it serve other than to draw hipsters to the area? If its only purpose is to draw people in, that is a supreme waste of tax dollars, in my opinion of course.

  • South Awwlington

    You: “If the trolly connected to a Metro stop, then, and only then, would this be smart. ”

    Me: “It will. Pentagon City.”

    Me again: Comments like this only galvanize my argument all along. Half the people against this project KNOW NOTHING about it. How can you have an opinion on something you know nothing about?

    Hello!!! Bueller, Bueller. Has anyone seen Ferris?

    By all means, have an opinion! But PLEASE know what day of the week it is first!


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