The problematic expansion of D.C.'s Metro train system into suburban Fairfax County, Va., has encoutered one more obstacle as the new Silver Line plans to open in 2013: How will the riders actually get to the new line? From today's Washington Post:
When the four stations open in 2013, none will have parking and only the Tysons East and Tysons West stations will have kiss-and-ride drop-offs. Some of the 100,000 people who work in Tysons will ride Metro there, and developers are seeking to add bridges, new doors and plazas connecting stations to their businesses.
But it will take time before the shopping and employment center redevelops into a mixed-use downtown with a mass of residents who can walk to the stations from home. For now, residents of nearby neighborhoods are accustomed to driving, and there are few firm plans for how people will actually access the stations.
According to Leonard Wolfenstein, a Fairfax County transportation planner, the apparent goal of the parking lot-less stations is to have "as many options as possible that are alternatives to driving," including walking, biking, and transit buses. It's one more example of how government is trying to get people out of their cars. But will it work?
Many Fairfax County residents that the Silver Line is supposed to attract live in areas that won't be in walking or biking distance of the four new Metro stations, nor do those areas currently have much access to bus routes. Is it conceivable those commuters will be willing to walk to a relatively distant bus stop, take a long bus ride to get to a Metro station, and then take another long train ride into D.C.? Perhaps, but if the trip takes as long or longer than sitting on a congested highway, those people are likely going to stick to their cars. As Fred Barnes pointed out earlier this month, the simple fact is that our cars are more convenient than mass transit. Metro and Fairfax County are just offering more proof.