Daisy Pease of Southeast said it rather directly:
"I don't drive, and I hate to insist that my children and husband drive me since they consider Wolf Trap a waste of their time.
"I can get to Tysons Corner to spend my money, but I can't get to Wolf Trap to enjoy the ballet. Maybe that's what's wrong with Washington, D.C., and why the younger generation feels that concerts are a waste of time."
Adds Nancy Pritchard of Northwest:
"Wolf Trap may be for all of us, but all of us cannot be for Wolf Trap --only those of us who have cars and can see to drive dark Northern Virginia roads. I find it interesting that a place sometimes called the national center for the performing arts is inaccessible by public transportation."
By implication, these two Washingtonians--and many others like them--are thumbing their noses at current efforts to raise funds for reconstruction of the Wolf Trap pavilion that was destroyed by fire several weeks ago.
Why should we give, they ask, when gasoline fumes and traffic jams are an unavoidable part of what ought to be an entirely outdoorsy, pastoral experience? And why can't there be public transportation to Wolf Trap once it's rebuilt?
I'm sure you've guessed the answer: money. Public transportation to Wolf Trap wouldn't pay for itself if it began tomorrow, and it's doubtful that it ever would.
"Remember, folks," says Cody Pfanstiehl, Metro's public affairs director, "when you ride one of the region's buses, your fare pays less than half--about 40 percent--of the actual operating cost. The other 60 percent comes from your local county or city coffers." In other words, all bus service, new or existing, must be subsidized.
Who could pony up that subsidy for Wolf Trap service? Pfanstiehl lists these possibilities:
"Fairfax County. The other local governments. Wolf Trap. The National Park Service. Uncle Sam. A merchant or generous citizen. The bus riders themselves. Or a combination of all or some of the above."
But none of these has come sprinting forward, and it would take a true long-shot player to expect that any of them ever would.
But let's assume Wolf Trap itself decides to sponsor bus service after reconstruction. From where would the bus, or buses, depart?
The debate would remind us of a robin's nest when Mama Robin returns with a worm. "Me first." "No, me." And so on.
Run a shuttle bus from the Ballston subway station, you say? "Okay for people . . . who live near one of the 44 stations operating today," Pfanstiehl says. "But . . . many people do not yet live close to a rail station. They would have to drive or take a bus to the nearest rail station, ride the train to Ballston, then transfer."
Pfanstiehl calls that "adagio travel when most people want presto or vivace."
A television script writer would have no trouble with this one. From out of the shadows, a man would emerge, holding an envelope. "My employer is a patron of the arts," the man would say, "and he wishes to see bus service to and from Wolf Trap." Then back into the shadows he would fade.
The real world is just a bit harsher. So much so that we must say to Daisy, Nancy and those like them: it doesn't look hopeful.