Marty Nohe, chairman of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, said Northern Virginia is preparing an updated transportation program, looking forward to 2040.
The update, which he hopes will be ready for legislative consideration in the 2013 General Assembly session, will include possibilities for road projects to deal with the impact of the federal base realignments and look at further expanding the Metro system, among other things.
Regional planning will focus on improving transportation corridors, rather than on the needs of particular jurisdictions. New road and transit projects will be evaluated in light of their effect on how many miles we travel in vehicles, something that could potentially benefit other forms of transportation besides roads.
My take: Planners in and out of government are looking at what we need for the next several decades. They have lengthy lists of projects to consider but very limited prospects for raising money. Planners should focus resources on preserving what we have.
Richard Sarles, Metro’s general manager, is focused on guarding the D.C. region’s greatest transportation asset. He and his management team never tire of using the phrase “state of good repair” when describing their goal for the biggest maintenance program in the transit system’s history.
Highlights: Buy 428 new rail cars to replace the oldest ones in the fleet and provide for the new service on the Dulles line. Rehabilitate 100 buses a year for six years, and buy 100 new buses a year. Improve the Next Bus technology to give riders a more accurate reading on when buses will arrive. Upgrade stations, where platforms, walls and ceilings are deteriorating. Replace 60 miles of track. Comply with the National Transportation Safety Board recommendations on upgrading rail cars and track systems. Fix the escalators and elevators.
My take: Sarles is on the right track, but it’s not always obvious to riders. What’s obvious to them is that the stations are torn up for repairs and that tens of thousands of weekend riders are inconvenienced by station closings and single-tracking for maintenance. If there were ever a time for highlighting customer service and flat-out hand-holding, this is it.
Dale Zehner, chief executive of Virginia Railway Express, said a 10-year investment of $250 million has helped the commuter service in creating the “very good state of repair” for customers in search of a reliable trip to work, more reliable than what the highways are providing.
Investment in the stations has expanded parking, extended platforms and added second platforms, he said. The rolling stock includes 71 new rail cars and 20 new locomotives.